Data Protection: Mission-Critical Priority for Nonprofits
By Steve Snyder

Steve Snyder
Steve Snyder
With nonprofits facing growing demands from funders and members for accountability and assurance of privacy, protecting data—arguably an organization’s most precious asset—has become a mission-critical priority for all, regardless of size.

Data, the foundation of every nonprofit, is under near-constant threat. As a result of looming disasters (i.e., erratic weather and terrorist activities), pressure resulting from government regulations, viruses, and equipment failure, data protection has become a critical component in a business’s disaster recovery plans.

Today, every nonprofit needs uninterrupted operation and immediate recoverability of data. Faced with "zero tolerance" for disruption, many have concluded they need to look outside the box for recovery solutions.

With its ability to quickly and efficiently perform backup and recovery, online backup is responding to the demands of today’s businesses in uncertain times. The uncomfortable reality is that many businesses suffer from insufficient backup procedures—backup that isn’t done every day, tapes that are left exposed.

Robert E. Boose, executive director of the Massachusetts Dental Society, makes the case: “We in the dental profession clearly recognize the critical nature of our patient and practice data. Hurricane Katrina and natural disasters closer to home remind us how crucial data protection and recovery is for our membership.”

Mark H. Alcott, president of the New York State Bar Association, notes, “Since almost all documents today are created electronically, data protection, business continuity and disaster recovery planning are absolutely essential.”

World Wide Web Enabled Online Backup

Online backup (or electronic vaulting as it is often referred to) entered the market in the mid-1980s, but didn’t launch until the World Wide Web phenomenon took off. Only then did it catch the attention of information technology professionals responsible for safeguarding mission-critical data.

Online backup eliminates many typical backup headaches by doing local backup and offsite protection simultaneously. The ability to automate your backup and immediately send the data offsite to a secure vault with a click of a mouse is now a reality and the most innovative, cost-effective, and reliable solution on the market today.

Whenever an innovative idea threatens to replace the status quo, myths evolve. Here are three.

Myth 1: Online backup is too expensive.

Initially it may appear that this technology is costly; however, by comparing it to a tape backup scenario it is cost-efficient. While online backup costs are decreasing thanks to the declining cost of storage and telecommunications, significant hardware, software licenses, tapes, off-site courier and tape storage service, personnel and routine human error, all add to the cost of traditional procedures. Online backup eliminates all of these traditional cost factors.

Myth 2: Data is not secure over the Internet.

Online backup utilizes the most secure, commercially available encryption technology. Encrypted data is sent over the Internet during backup or restore transfer. While stored, the data remains encrypted until deciphered on the client side. And online backup provides more security than does storing unencrypted data tapes in a remote vault.

Myth 3: Online backup can't handle large amounts of data.

Handling large amounts of data over relatively small bandwidth is a popular feature of online backup. After an initial backup of your data is made, only the changed portions of existing files and new files are subsequently backed up so that continuous back-up is quick. Large-volume, highly redundant disk storage systems store the data online, securely in remote data centers. This means most data can be recovered quickly online, while very large data sets can be shipped to the user on a mobile vault within a few hours time.

Despite myths surrounding online backup, it is fast becoming the backup standard, having proven to be a fundamental component of business continuity and disaster recovery plans. As a result, organizations are re-tailoring their plans to include online backup.

Disasters and loss of data are inevitable, as is online backup. Organizations that wait until disaster strikes to implement more efficient means of backing up their most valuable asset, could find their existence threatened.

Steve Snyder, vice president at Waltham-based AmeriVault Corp., works with businesses and nonprofits nationwide, providing data backup, archiving, and recovery solutions. Call him at 781-839-7803 or email