Protecting Today’s Data Dependant Firm


Protecting Today’s Data Dependant Firm
By Bud Stoddard, President & CEO, AmeriVault Corp.

Most everything that is done in a law firm today, from email to preparing court documents to billing clients and keeping their information current, requires the use of the computer through which electronic data is generated.  Just as malpractice insurance is an important part of protecting a firm, safeguards must be put in place to protect electronic data and to ensure that a firm is back up and running quickly following an outage.

The means by which most law firms today protect their data is through tape backup.  Because tape backup has been around for years and on the surface it may seem inexpensive, most law firm IS/IT personnel see it as the most effective backup solution.  But, for electronic data dependent law firms today, it is frought with inefficiencies and multiple points of failure which could have a negative impact on the future health and wellbeing of a firm. Let’s review:

    • Tape backup requires personnel and human intervention which can mean success or failure – think about the last time Bob forgot to put the backup tape in.

    • Once the backup is completed, is the tape transported to a secure offsite location? And no, Tim’s sock drawer is not exactly secure.

    • Is the data quickly and readily available in the event a restore is necessary? Does someone have to drive an hour to pick up the tape or, do wait hours for a courier service to deliver it?

    • Equipment malfunctions are common with tape backup so what safeguards are in place to ensure a complete and accurate backup?

    • Although seemingly inexpensive tape backup can involve the high cost of human resources, hardware (tapes, drives, etc.), software (licenses, maintenance, etc.), courier service fees and off-site storage and recovery efforts.

A cost-effective and not so new technology that is beginning to gain speed within the legal community is online backup and recovery.  A process that occurs automatically and according to the firms needs, it recognizes and captures changes to files (at the block level), encrypts the data for enhanced security and compresses it to minimize transmission time.  Retrieval can be accomplished online, real-time from the firm or remotely and is ideal for firms who do not have technical personnel or those who have multiple branch or satellite offices.

One thing is for certain, there are a number of new backup and recovery technologies on the market today.  Law firm technology personnel should choose a solution according to their needs and wants.  But, for many, tape backup is not a viable solution and other solutions such as online backup should be examined.  It just makes good business sense.