For reasons of data protection, the parts of Beacon described below are generally only available to the Site Administrator and key post holders.
This facility is provided to allow u3as to download their data for use in external applications, reporting tools, etc. and also so that they can keep backups of their own data locally. A backup can also be used to re-build something deleted in error such as a Group.
Select Data export & backup from the Home Page.
Data can be downloaded in either of two formats: Excel or CSV.
According to the format you select, a different list of downloads will be displayed. You can download the same data in either format, but whereas Excel can contain related data on different worksheets within the same spreadsheet, CSV files can only contain one kind of data. There are therefore more options when selecting CSV.
There is one additional option under Excel: Backup all data. If this is selected, all the data that can be downloaded individually by the other options will be downloaded as a single spreadsheet. This is therefore the best option for backing up all data.
Depending on your browser, you will be given the choice of Opening the download or Saving it in your default download (or other) location. For Opening the default application on your computer for .xlsx or .csv files should be invoked.
If you keep downloads with personal information then they should be encrypted. This can be done with Excel (usually File > Info > Protect Workbook) or with a tool such as the popular 7-zip.
Guidance on interpreting backups
The majority of the sheets, and their .csv equivalents, have columns that are self-explanatory, or can easily be deduced by referring to your data on various Beacon screens.
For those with a value 1 or 0, e.g. sheet "Venues" columns "private" and "accessible", then 1 means yes/true/applies and 0 or empty means no/false.
The less obvious are columns mainly aid with linking the data in individual sheets reliably.
|A unique internal number for the member. In rare cases where there are duplicate member numbers this will enable the records to be distinguished e.g. identified in the Audit log.
|A unique internal number for a postal address. By sorting on this column member pairs who share an address (partnered) can be identified.
|custom1 - 4
|Custom fields exist whether or not they are made visible to a u3a on the Beacon screens. If the columns are not blank they would have been used in the past.
|1 = hide member contact details from the Group Leader
|1 = cheque, 2 = cash, 3 = PayPal, 4 = standing order, 5 = direct debit, 6 = BACS (Faster Payments, inter-bank transfers), 7 = credit card (for payments)
|Links a ledger entry with the next sheet "Detail"
|The name of the first category the amount was allocated. With more than one category for the amount use "tkey" against sheet "Detail"
|For each transaction gives the amount allocated to a category. Where an amount goes to more than one category there will be additional rows with the same "tkey"
|Use to link "Group members" to a group. Also "Group Ledgers" entries.
|Links the 1st Leader to sheet "Members"
|1 = Active 0 = not active
|The names of up to two leaders in alphabetical order.
|Link to "Venues"
|Use to identify the members of a group and also all the Leaders (if there are 3 or more).
|Links to "Groups"
|Links to "Members"
|Links the sheets
- The whole Beacon database for all u3as is backed up nightly and stored off site. However, there is no capability to restore an individual u3a's data from either this backup or a "Backup all data" as descibed above.
Reference to Beacon User Guide removed
|Updated guidance for new format.
clarified use of backup