A good backup strategy can be a real lifesaver. Imagine the impact that losing critical data like a donor list would have on your campaign! However, not all backup strategies are equal and they're not all secure.
Here we will outline a robust backup system that protects your data from both accidental loss and malicious theft. Getting your backups set up will take a bit of time, but then they'll take care of themselves.
What is a backup?
Backups are a copy of your computer's data that you can use to recover files in case of human error or malicious attack. They’re equally helpful for computer crashes, lost or stolen computers, or ransomware attacks, for example.
There's a common backup strategy called 3-2-1 that we recommend. That means you have 3 copies of your data in 2 places and 1 of them is off-site. The first copy is your original files on your computer.
For a second backup, we recommend an external hard drive with automated backups enabled. This local copy is great to get you quickly working again after a problem. Follow the instructions for using Windows File History or macOS's Time Machine (be sure to check "Encrypt Backup Disk" option) to get yours setup. If you're using Windows, you'll need to encrypt your backup disk separately.
For your third copy, we recommend a cloud backup service. Having a copy off-site, on someone else's servers in this case, means that you can recover your data even after a catastrophe like a fire or theft that makes your local copy unavailable. Reputable companies have the expertise and resources to provide a higher level of security for your information than you are likely able to maintain on your own. Data that is stored in the cloud isn’t at risk of being lost if an individual device is misplaced or stolen, and most cloud services keep backups or archives of your documents. Since you will log into your cloud-based services through a website or app, be sure to create your password with a password manager and set up 2FA on your account, as we discussed in security prep.
Which cloud service should I use?
We recommend Backblaze. It’s cloud-based, has a really easy process to restore files from any time in the past 30 days, and supports 2FA. You can optionally set your own encryption key (which is just a passphrase), making it so even Backblaze cannot see your data on their servers. We recommend this option, but you need to know that if you forget your encryption key you will not be able to restore your data.
How to verify your backups
The final part of your backup strategy is verification. You should regularly check to make sure that you can access the files in your backup. Far too often folks find out that something wasn't working correctly only when they need to use their backup. We recommend checking a few files every week.
To verify your Windows 10 File History is working, right click on a file you want to check and choose "Restore Previous Versions". You should see a list of versions to restore. You don't actually need to restore one and if you do, you'll lose any changes you've made since.
To verify that Time Machine is working on macOS, click on the Time Machine icon in the menu bar (it's a clock with a counterclockwise arrow around it) then choose "Enter Time Machine". You'll see a Finder window with all the previous versions stretching back through the past. If you're seeing previous versions, it's working.
To verify that Backblaze is working, go to their website where you can browse your saved files.
Remember, security measures are important pieces to protect against unknown or uncontrollable events like computer crashes or breaches. Preparation is key and back-ups can be a useful tool in regaining information and continuing your campaign with little delay. Use this guide to get started with a strong back-up system or follow our tips to make sure you have the best methods in place.
If you have any questions about back-ups or more, ask us! Campaign Helpdesk is here to provide support and answers.