Avoiding the Acute Pain of Lost Information – Data Backup Best Practices for Nonprofits

Imagine losing all of you financial transactions for the month, or worse for an entire year. Imagine losing all the data associated with online giving, pledge information, or donor information. Imagine losing employee history and payroll information. This mental exercise is not intended to be sadistic (though it’s painful to dwell on) – but rather to underscore what a nightmare lost data is.

www.xanegy.comAt Xanegy, we believe that nonprofits should have a documented routine for regular data backup that should be executed according to the schedule. We recognize that earnest reminders to routinely backup your data often has all the appeal of a dentist urging a patient to floss more – but failing to do so can be devastating.

Your financial, donor and employee information are precious assets. When it comes to organizational data, we strongly encourage you to live by the adage ‘hope for the best but prepare for the worst’.

Did you know that 25 percent of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster (according to the      U. S. Small Business Administration)?

While a major disaster includes much more loss than just crucial business data, not having access to your data can cripple a nonprofit as dramatically as a commercial business. We understand that this is a worst-case scenario.

Even if there isn’t flood water rushing through your office or fire spreading from floor to floor, consider how losing all of your current and historical data would impact on your nonprofit organization and your constituents?

Here are four steps that you should take to protect your data:

1. Backup everything you need.
What programs and data do you access on a daily basis? Make sure that your back ups include everything you need to get up and running again. Interruptions in operations are bad enough. But discovering that your back up only has a portion of what you need to become 100% operational is frustrating to say the least.

www.xanegy.com(Spoiler alert: If you manage your data in the cloud – all of this is handled for you through your subscription. But if your systems are not hosted in the cloud, please read on.)

2. Make sure you have the right backup software.
This is little more involved and therefore there’s not a one-size-fits all recommendation. Here are some questions you should consider: Is it easy to use? Does it work with the software and servers you have? Will it meet your backup needs? Does it offer automatic indexing? Will it handle the backup of locked files? If these questions are making you glaze over – we understand. But they must be considered if you are going have a secure backup process.

3. Make sure that you can restore your backup.
Media goes bad. Hard drives die. Often, back ups are incomplete because the database may be in use while the back up is being performed. Are we suggesting that you do a test backup in order to test the backup media? Yes, because there’s no point in going through the process routinely without knowing if you will be able to restore the back up.

4. Store the backup data offsite
If you back up everything you need, determine and acquire the right backup software, test your media and confirm that you can restore your backups – but then keep the backup onsite – the same tornado/flood/fire/etc. that destroys your system will also destroy your back up. Your backup process should include finding and utilizing a place (other than your office) where your backup can be stored and accessed in the event of disaster.

Your software publisher might be willing to be your offsite resource – especially when disasters are forecasted – for example, the likely path of a hurricane, or progression of wildfire and there may be time for your organization to react.

5. Consider moving mission-critical systems to the Cloud
The alternative title for this article could have been: “Four Things You Wouldn’t Have To Do If You Had Cloud-Based Nonprofit Solutions”

If you’re looking at steps 1 through 4 and feeling a little overwhelmed – it may be time to begin considering moving your mission-critical systems to the Cloud. Let’s say you had your fund accounting data in Intacct, your grant information in Amplifund, and so on, steps 1 through 4 are taken care of for you as part of your monthly subscription fee.

More powerful security
Another benefit of cloud-based solutions is that in addition to handling backup procedures, your solution and data enjoy state-of-art security. The cloud is simply a facility housing servers. However, that facility is climate controlled, physically guarded, digitally guarded, monitored 24 hours a day, and provides you with guaranteed up time. It’s a level of security and performance that most of us could never afford to duplicate.

It’s one of the reasons we’re so enthusiastic about cloud solutions – they deliver so much more by leveraging the latest technologies, economies of scale, and help to automate those activities that we all need to do, but would rather not.

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ERP professionals providing insight and advice for not for profit organizations.