Top Nonprofit Tech Challenges: Data backup and continuity solutions

In its (11/1/12) article, "5 Unusual Ways Sandy Victims are Charging Their Cellphones," The Blaze reported "A Blaze reader from Hoboken, N.J., sent us this photo of a makeshift charging station outside someone’s home."

In its (11/1/12) article, "5 Unusual Ways Sandy Victims are Charging Their Cellphones," The Blaze reported "A Blaze reader from Hoboken, N.J., sent us this photo of a makeshift charging station outside someone’s home."

This is the fifth in a series of articles addressing top technology challenges facing nonprofit organizations. If you have a suggested topic, please email us, and we will try to address that topic in an upcoming article!

Business continuity planning includes developing policies and procedures your organization can use to mitigate risk and ensure that your operational work can continue should there be disruption to your technology solutions, whether it's caused by human error or natural disaster. An important part of business continuity planning is identifying which operations are essential and to map out what technologies must be set up through back-up plans or redundant systems to enable your work to continue.

As an example, in 2012, the Northeast, including New York City and New Jersey, was faced with the worst disaster in over a century. Many nonprofits whose very mission was to assist those affected by Hurricane Sandy were disrupted by the flooding, electrical outages, and lack of public transportation caused by the storm. For those organizations that housed their data and IT infrastructure in-house and did not have cloud backup solutions, remote access was impossible and precious constituency and donor data was, in many cases, lost. Even though some of our customers were without power in their physical locations for three weeks, and we were out of power at the Sinu offices here in Tribeca for nearly a week, our customers did not lose data and they remained connected to their emails and other mission critical services. If they could charge their devices and get online, they could continue to function. It was during this disaster that our nonprofit customers truly understood the value of business continuity planning.

The cornerstone to preserving business continuity is to create and deploy data backup protocols for your daily operations. Below we have outlined some information about online backup services to help support business continuity and data security.

What is online file backup?
Online file backup is the process of storing the contents of your computer's hard drive, such as your important documents and media files, through the Internet using a third party online backup service. If your hard drive crashes, your computer is stolen or damaged, you accidentally erase important information from your computer, or you otherwise lose access to important files, online backup services give you the ability to quickly restore any lost information.

Is online file backup secure?
Yes. Online backup services utilize the same security measures that financial institutions use to protect sensitive data. This means that the data you store with an online backup service is as secure as your bank account or credit card account information.

How do online backup services work?
Online backup services allow you to download a small computer program on your laptop or desktop computer. This application will allow you to select which files you would like to backup and set-up automated scheduled backups of your files. With Sinu, we take care of all the logistics for you and your employees.

How do I restore my files using an online backup service?
The process of restoring lost files differs depending on the service provider. In most cases, it is as simple as accessing your online account and downloading the files you have backed up. The amount of time it takes to download your backed-up files varies based on the amount of data you have stored with your online backup service. It can take anywhere from a few hours if you have a small number of files backed up to several days if you have many large files to recover.

Isn’t in-house backup safer than the cloud which I hear is getting hacked all the time?

No. Small businesses and nonprofits just don’t have the resources to invest in securing their data the way the large cloud data storage do. These cloud service providers spend millions of dollars to provide safe backup and data storage and their very reputation and revenue depend on it. Breaches in security would seriously harm their reputation, as well as that of the industry itself. As such, they have considerable incentive to ensure the protection of their client information through security investments, expert talent and fast adaptability protocols. 

Don’t forget your laptops!
Most organizations regularly backup their servers, but do not have a system to backup data from the laptops that are increasingly being used in the workplace by employees. Because people using laptops often store data on the local drive rather than on the server, mobility poses a data security risk if not mitigated. We recommend an online file backup solution for each laptop.

The cloud has made disaster recovery a natural extension of data management by making online backup services accessible for most organizations. At Sinu, our goal is to make data security and data backup seamless for our clients and their employees. We automate virtual data backup, ensuring your staff can stay focused on the mission critical services your constituents need. Should Mother Nature strike, your operational data will be secure and accessible when you need it.