In the process of thinking about topics for posts to this blog, I’ve been considering some discussions of major database functions in ChessBase 11 – the kind of functions that can make major changes to your databases. I’ve realized that I need to cover one topic before we cover those kinds of functions: the procedure of making database backups.
If you’re an experienced computer user, I don’t suppose I need to discuss the importance of backing up your data. Hard drive crashes do happen (after more than fifteen years without a major mishap, I suffered two hard drive crashes in less than six months a couple of years ago). Data corruption is far more common than complete drive crashes, and is more common even than many people realize; over the last two decades I’ve had more mishaps involving corrupted data than I can remember.
So if you’ve put a lot of work into maintaining a chess database (be it a large master database of millions of games, a small database of your own tournament games, a repertoire database containing your favorite opening variations, etc.), you owe it to yourself to take a small bit of time and an extra measure of trouble to make a backup of your unique databases.
It’s important to note here that ChessBase databases are composed of multiple files; the .CBH file you see in many of ChessBase’s game saving and replacement functions is just one file of many. ChessBase format data is split across multiple files: some files contain game moves, some contain the header information, some contain game indexes. This is designed specifically to speed search functions (functions which, by the way, I’ve been discussing in USCF Sales’ YouTube videos; please have a look if you’ve not already done so); the software needs to search just a portion of the available data rather than every last (literal) bit.
When you back up a database in ChessBase 11, the software will bundle up all of those individual files into a single archive file which ends in the extension .CBV; this archive file is similar in concept to the .ZIP or .RAR files with which you may already be familiar.
It’s very easy to backup a database using ChessBase 11. You simply right-click on the database’s icon in ChessBase’s database desktop, go to “Tools” in the popup menu, and select “Backup database” from the submenu:
Next you’ll see this dialogue appear:
This gives you the option of password protecting your archive file. Unless you’re a top-level tournament competitor who needs to protect valuable opening novelties in your personal theory database, there’s really no reason for you to password protect your data. The practical reason why I advise against “crypting” (as the dialogue calls it) your data is because no one at USCF Sales or ChessBase can “hack” an encrypted, password protected database in the event that you forget your password. If you mess up and lose, misplace, or forget your password, there’s no way you’re ever going to be able to uncompress that archived database to get to your data.
So please select the default of “Uncrypted” unless you have a very good reason for doing otherwise.
After you select “Uncrypted”, you’ll see the standard Windows file select dialogue which lets you pick a folder in which to store your .CBV archive file, with the default filename being the same as that of the database:
Note that the default folder will be the same one in which the database itself is stored. My personal preference is to store all of my archived databases together in a separate folder (imaginatively named “Archives”). When/if I select a .CBV file in ChessBase 11, the individual database files will uncompress into the folder in which the .CBV file is located; if I leave the .CBV file in the same folder with the original database and would accidentally open it, my current database files would be overwritten by the older archive files, potentially erasing changes and additions I’ve made to the database in the days or weeks after I archived it.
Next you’ll see a status bar showing you the progress of the archival process:
The process will take anywhere from a few seconds (for small databases) to several minutes (for large databases). When the process is complete, another dialogue will pop up to tell you that the program is finished (and you’ll need to click an “OK” button to clear that dialogue).
Have fun! – Steve Lopez
Copyright 2011, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.