Wild Turkeys

I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Living around farmers reminds one that life is an ephemeral thing, something that waxes and wanes with nature’s rhythms (today’s pig is tomorrow’s bacon) but, for the vast majority of us these small reminders are merely items of interest and not something that we focus on (the chicken that provided the eggs for your breakfast was interested in it, the pig that provided the bacon was really focused on it). Yet, when a friend’s holiday letter mentions they’ve been diagnosed with a stage 4 glioblastoma a few weeks prior, I find myself becoming a bit more focused, so this Thanksgiving, I find myself a bit more thankful for my health, my friends, and my family. I also find myself reviewing my office’s “in case of …” kit.

My “in case of …” kit is basically my backup system for me. Basically, it’s a set of documents that provide a quick guide to my filing system, mission critical software, and basic procedures so that my backup attorney has some rudimentary grasp of how to either run my practice in the short term or close it down if necessary. Ideally, I would review my kit on a regular basis (hey, I back up my computer daily, I should at least back up myself every few months), but the reality is that it takes life handing me a good swift kick before I get the impetus to block out the time. This year, it looks like I have something to do on Black Friday other than being mauled at the mall.

Happy Thanksgiving and Slàinte mhòr agus a h-uile beannachd duibh (’cause gaelic makes a nice change from latin).

It went bump in the night

Well, I knew that one day I would lose a disk, but I really didn’t need it to happen today, I really didn’t need to lose the disk with my database on it, and I certainly did not expect a 2 month old disk to pack up and go south. The cool thing is that I was down for less than 90 minutes and half of that was spent running to the local big box computer store to get a new drive.

It took all of 3 mouse clicks and less than 45 minutes for CrashPlan to do a complete restore from my on-site backup. Had I not wanted instant gratification, I could have restored from my off-site personal cloud in little over 2 hours. Had I ever wondered about justifying the cost of having a highly redundant back up system, today put all my doubts to rest. Rather than spending countless hours rebuilding my contact list, document database, forms, etc. I went to lunch while my hardware and software did their thing.

Salve Veritate

Perhaps the reader may ask, of what consequence is it whether the author’s exact language is preserved or not, provided we have his thought? The answer is, that inaccurate quotation is a sin against truth. It may appear in any particular instance to be a trifle, but perfection consists in small things, and perfection is no trifle. — Robert W. Shaunon

Talking about backup systems is a bit like talking about wills – its the last thing you want to think about ’cause my data is safe, secure, and sitting on my laptop’s disk. Well the truth of the matter is that one of these days your computer is going to get hit by the electronic equivalent of the 3:30 cross-town bus and you’ll be sending lilies to your data’s next of kin. Continue reading

Metrics That Matter: Data Loss

It is estimated that data loss costs U.S. businesses average $12-418 billion per year and, on average, each hour of downtime costs $50,000. The average cost to re-enter 20 megabytes of data is between $17,000 and $19,000 and takes between 19 and 21 days[i]. The cost to recreate data from scratch is estimated to be between $2000 and $8000 per megabyte[ii]. A data loss event can be catastrophic occurrence; 60% of companies that lose their data close within 6 months of the event and 72% fail within 24 months[iii].

The leading causes of data loss are: hardware or system malfunctions (40-44%), human error (29-32%), software corruption (13-14%), computer viruses (6-7%), theft or data breach (9%), hardware destruction or natural disasters (3%)[iv]. The leading causes of data theft are: attacks from external sources (73%), theft by business partners (39%), and attacks from internal sources (18%)[v]. It estimated that: 1 in 5 computers will suffer a fatal hard drive crash within its lifespan, 15% of laptops are stolen or lost (approximately 2000 per day), and, on average, a hard drive fails every 15 seconds[vi]. Continue reading

Online Backup Services

If the first rule of the digital age is “save early, save often” the second has to be “backup your data daily” and unless you are an ubergeek with a home-brew 18 server complex with Raid 5 disk arrays capable of doing disk to disk mirroring build into your hall closet, online backup services like BackBlaze, Carbonite, iBackup, SugarSync, or Iron Mountain may be a solution to a problem you hope you never have.

However, not any on-line backup solution will do for the paperless law office (or for that matter, a law office that maintains any electronic client information). After all there is an ethical duty to protect client data and maintain client confidentiality. So before running out and signing up for the cheapest on-line service out there be sure that the service provides an automatic, encrypted backup service that gives you exclusive access to your files (or at least a written statement that files are kept confidential). Then, periodically check your backups by doing a file restore – remember doveryai, no proveryai (trust but verify)

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