Maintaining backups has become a popular practice for one main reason: It’s better to be safe than sorry. You should definitely backup nonprofit data.

These days, cybersecurity statistics bear witness to the fact that safety is a real concern. Hackers are attacking more frequently than ever, and the unfortunate truth is that most nonprofits aren’t well prepared – which leaves them, all-too-often, sorry. A serious nonprofit cybersecurity plan should involve backing up systems to reduce risks.

If you don’t have a backup plan in place, here’s why you should implement one – and an outline of how it should work.

Why should you back up your nonprofit’s data systems?

At a high-level, as we’ve noted, the answer to this question is to protect your organization. But this can be broken down more granularly into a few main benefits.

1. Backups help to avoid data losses.

This is the basic function of backups; when systems are compromised, you can revert to backups and avoid losing valuable data.

Data can be lost in a number of scenarios. Hacks can corrupt data, making it inaccessible or unusable. Ransomware, in particular, locks systems down until a fee (or ransom) is paid for its release. While good network hardening tactics can reduce the likelihood of a hack occurring, backups can ensure that if a hack does occur, data won’t be lost.

Hacks aren’t the only cause of lost data, though. Natural disasters can also wipe out on-premises data. If there’s a fire, flood, or lightning strike and your systems are destroyed, having backups off of your premises can ensure that your data is still available.

2. Backups can minimize downtime.

Additionally, backups can minimize the amount of time your systems are down and allow your employees to get back to your mission more quickly.

While there are a number of estimates as to the true cost of downtime (with most studies concluding that each hour costs thousands of dollars), there’s no denying the fact that it’s expensive. Even if nonprofits are not directly losing revenue during downtime, you’re certainly losing productivity toward your mission, and the longer systems are down, the more expensive they’ll be to restart.  Also, since nonprofits work on well-defined budgets, any downtime is bound to throw your financial picture off track. Managed backups allow quicker recovery to prevent high costs and keep your people on-mission.

3. Backups can benefit your reputation.

This benefit is a bit less tangible, but it’s still valuable. Any organization that mismanages data is at risk of damaging its reputation. Reputations are valuable assets for nonprofits; in the court of public opinion, if you aren’t trustworthy with data, your operations may not be trustworthy, either.

Maintaining good backups ensures that your organization’s data is more secure – which is a step toward maintaining your reputation and protecting your funding so that you can pursue your goals.

How should you back up your nonprofit’s systems?

With the importance of backups clarified, let’s take a look at how nonprofits should implement effective backup processes.

1. Backups should be made frequently.

First, backups should be made often. You can’t afford to only back up your systems once a week; too much changes in the interim. Best practice is to have backups created on a daily basis, at least – and we generally recommend having the process working even more often, if possible.

2. Backups should be automated.

Obviously, if backups happen daily or more often, the process should be automated. You can’t expect to manually manage (or have someone else manage) the process every time it’s carried out. Automating will make it consistent and give you peace of mind.

3. The backup process should be monitored.

Speaking of peace of mind: The backup process should be monitored. This should involve automated monitoring and manual monitoring.

Automated monitoring can pass notifications when backups are completed to keep admins apprised. It should also alert admins to any significant changes (such as database updates outside of normal operating protocols) and to any errors (such as broken connections).

Manual monitoring can be done less frequently, but it’s best practice to ensure that backups are being completed successfully. Manual inspection may uncover errors that the automated monitoring missed.

4. Backups should exist in multiple locations.

Ideally, your nonprofit should have multiple instances of backups so that your systems have multiple redundancies. If your backups are only stored on-site and there’s a natural disaster, you will lose all of your data. At least one of these instances should be stored off-premises in the cloud.

5. Backups should be easily retrievable.

Finally, your backups should be easily retrievable (and easy to implement). If they aren’t, you’ll face greater amounts of downtime and higher costs of recovery when you need to access them.

Your organization should periodically test backup nonprofit data recovery to ensure that you can quickly revert if you do face a cybersecurity incident.

Looking for help with nonprofit cybersecurity?

Backups are important. Backup nonprofit data according to these guidelines, and you’ll go a long way toward reducing your cybersecurity risk.

And if you need help implementing backup processes, get in touch with us.

At Community IT, we’ve found that many nonprofit organizations deal with more cybersecurity risks than they should have to after settling for low-cost IT support options they believe will provide them with the right value. The problem is that these options don’t understand or address important vulnerabilities. As a result, cyber damages are all too common.

Our process is different. Our techs are nonprofit cybersecurity experts. We constantly research and evaluate new technology solutions to ensure that you get cutting-edge solutions that are tailored to keep your organization secure. And we ensure you get the highest value possible by bringing 25 years of expertise in exclusively serving nonprofits to bear in your environment.

To increase cybersecurity preparedness with an intelligent approach to managed backups, get in touch with us today.