Bar News - June 21, 2013
Tech Talk: Backing Up in “The Cloud”
By: Rob Howard
Streamlining office processes increases productivity and profitability. In this periodic column in Bar News, I will be sharing some of my experience in practice management and some of the technological tools I have found useful in making my practice run more efficiently. I am interested in hearing about what technology you are using to make the practice of law easier or more profitable. An exchange of ideas and tips can help us all become more successful and improve outcomes and satisfaction for our clients.
I have chosen to start with a critical aspect of the practice – backing up your computer files. Next month’s column will have a section for your thoughts on that topic and a section with a new topic.
You must back up your data. Hard drives crash at the worst moment. A virus, a theft, or a fire will cause major problems for obvious reasons. Once upon a time, a daily tape backup was the way to go. This could be supplemented by an external drive mirroring your server. Of the many solutions, I have been happy for 10 years with online backup. The ethics opinion printed in the March 22 issue of Bar News provides a useful checklist of appropriate online security measures.
There are a number of online services that meet these standards, but I would avoid the free ones, such as Google, Carbonite and Drop Box. I will explain the service that I use, but it is only one of many.
Mozy.com, professional level, provides whatever amount of storage you need. My office, two lawyers, is using about 35 gigabytes of the 50 gigabytes I rent at $20 per month.
I downloaded the “free” program to try for a month. I subscribed after two days. The first backup is done at the end of each day and takes a couple of hours. After that, incremental backup occurs twice a day (my choice) in the background, so you never notice it. I have chosen what files I want to backup. It won’t work for programs, only for data, such as all client documents, accounting, information, calendars, contacts and so forth.
The program encrypts the files at a very high level on my computer and beams the encrypted files to storage. They keep all backups for the last few months. That way, if I suddenly discover that a virus has been eating up my files for the past week, I can use Mozy Pro to restore the files to the way they were before my computer became infected. It’s a good idea to practice restoring a single file or subdirectory, to see how easy it is, and to make sure that you can do it. The online backup program emails you a weekly report to show success (or failure), and they have good tech support.
Any good software will have a lot of helpful information on its website. Many allow you to run a trial version before buying. The peace of mind is worth a small initial investment of time and money.
If you have another program you use for this purpose or would like to contribute another tech tip for inclusion in this column, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rob Howard operates an efficient, two-attorney civil law practice in Henniker and serves as treasurer of the NH Bar Association Board of Governors.