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Restoring a backup means replacing your entire database (all years of data) with what is in the backup, which is what was in your database at the date and time that backup was created.
If you ever do have a problem and need to restore from a backup directory on your hard drive, CD, USB memory key etc., it is very easy.
Note: Users of the Local Network Client version of ACCOUNTS cannot restore backups - that must be done from the Local Network Server version♦.
Restoring a backup to the same computer it was made from should only be done if you have had your computer or hard drive die, and thus lost your database, or you have taken some action in ACCOUNTS that you need to reverse, there is no other way to reverse that action, and your backup is recent enough that you are willing to go back to it.
The other time you might want to restore backups is if you have ACCOUNTS on multiple computers, with copies of the same database, and you are transferring that database between those computers. For some users of the Standard version this may be a common occurrence, if you are sharing a database between multiple computers. If that is a regular requirement, though, please consider the Cloud Storage Service which automates that process. With this Local Network versions, this will not come up unless you have to change which computer is running the Local Network Server version of the program.
Normal backup files (made with the program's Backup/Restore ⇒ Backup Database menu option) are usually named OrganizationName-YYYY-MM-DD.HH.MM.SS.S4ABackup or OrganizationName-YYYY-MM-DD.S4ABackup, where the OrganizationName is your File Name from the Maintenance ⇒ Organization Info window, YYYY-MM-DD is replaced by today's date, in that format, and HH.MM.SS is the time.
Emailed backup files (made with the program's Backup/Restore ⇒ Email Backup menu option) are usually named OrganizationName-YYYY-MM-DD.HH.MM.SS.S4AEncryptedBackup or OrganizationName-YYYY-MM-DD.S4AEncryptedBackup. (That's the same as regular backup filenames, except with the file extension S4AEncryptedBackup instead of S4ABackup.)
Both types of backup file can be restored by using the instructions below.
The Backup Filename must match the Current Database Filename
You can only restore a database backup when the OrganizationName part of its filename matches your current database's filename from the Maintenance ⇒ Organization Info window, or when you are initializing a new empty database for the first time. (See Startup Options for how it works in that 2nd case.)
If the filenames don't match, you will get an error message if you try to restore it. You then have three options for how to do the restore:
1) Use the Database ⇒ Delete All Data menu option if there is really nothing in your current database and you want to replace it with the contents of the backup, or
2) Use the File ⇒ New Database menu option to create another database, and restore your backup to it.
Either of these first two options will take you to the Startup Options window, where you can select the 2nd radio button, "I want to start by restoring a database backup ..." and restore the backup.
3) Rename the backup file so that the initial OrganizationName part exactly matches the current File Name shown in Maintenance ⇒ Organization Info.
This third option allows you to follow the instructions below, which assume you are restoring a backup file where the OrganizationName part does match your current database's filename.
If you are viewing a backup file in My Computer, Computer, Windows Explorer, or as an attachment in an email program, you can double-click on the file (or right-click and pick "Open" or "Restore to ACCOUNTS" from the popup menu). That will then start ACCOUNTS, or activate it if it's already running, and prompt you to confirm that you want to restore the backup file.
Note: If you are restoring from an attachment in an email program such as Outlook, when ACCOUNTS prompts for whether to restore the file, the filename may have been modified somewhat. That is normally not a problem - you can restore it anyways.
(Prior to release 2.20 of ACCOUNTS, the program also had to not already be running for this to work. Now that is not a problem.)
Standard Way For Any File
Select Backup/Restore ⇒ Restore Database. It will prompt you with a "Restore Backup File" dialog box, where you select the backup file and the directory it is in. As explained above, to restore on top of your current database file, the file has to have the same base filename as your current database file, with the backup file extension ".S4ABackup" or ".S4AEncryptedBackup" for emailed backups. So if your database has the filename OrganizationName.S4A, then the backup file to be restored will usually be named OrganizationName-YYYY-MM-DD.HH.MM.SS.S4ABackup or OrganizationName-YYYY-MM-DD.S4ABackup (though you could optionally have renamed it to anything.S4ABackup when you did the backup). Once you select the file to restore, just follow the prompts, and it will do the restore.
The restore is done by completely replacing any existing database file matching the backup file with the restored backup file. Once this has been completed, it will restart the program so that it can use the newly restored database.
The "Restore Backup File" dialog box will always initially display the last drive and directory from which you did a backup using Backup/Restore ⇒ Backup Database.
Restoring Emailed Backups
If a backup has been emailed to you, it will be called OrganizationName-YYYY-MM-DD.HH.MM.SS.S4AEncryptedBackup or OrganizationName-YYYY-MM-DD.S4AEncryptedBackup. That can also be restored with Backup/Restore ⇒ Restore Database. (You can also double-click an emailed backup attachment to open it.)
The only difference in this process is that you will be prompted to supply the Backup Encryption Password that was used to create that emailed backup. See Restoring Emailed Backups for fuller details on the encryption password.
Warning about Using Standard File Copies
Although you can also successfully back up and restore your database file (OrganizationName.S4A) just by using standard file copying methods (for example using My Computer, Windows Explorer, or the COPY command in a Command Prompt), or via specialized backup software, do not do this while you are running ACCOUNTS! That can lead to your database becoming damaged and unusable.
Doing Temporary Database Restores
In some unusual cases you may just want to look at an old backup of the database, without switching to it permanently. If you want to do that, first make a backup of your current database and save it carefully. Then restore the older backup that you want to look at. When you are done with it, restore the new backup.
Restoring Older Backups
If you select a backup to restore that is older than your current data (i.e. you have entered further transactions, with later dates, since that backup was made), the program will give you a very explicit warning about this, and ask you twice to confirm that you really wish to do this. That's because doing such a restore will cause the more recent data, entered since that earlier backup, to be lost!
Restoring from Network Drives and Paths
Backups can be restored from mapped network drives, and also from what are known as UNC paths (\\servername etc.).