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The Worst-Case Scenario Can Happen to Your Law Firms Data

The Worst-Case Scenario Can Happen to Your Law Firm’s Data
Original article by Gina F. Rubel, The Legal Intelligencer
December 16, 2015
Imagine that your law firm's offices have just been destroyed by an overnight fire. Nobody was hurt but everything is gone. Every desk, stapler, office chair, telephone, filing cabinet and computer has been burned to a cinder.
Can your law firm continue to exist after a major loss in data?
If the answer is, "yes," the main reason is likely because you recently made a backup of your firm's most important data, and that backup is stored in a secondary location that was not affected by the fire. If that doesn't describe the situation you would be in—which is too often the case for small and mid-size law firms—this column is for you.
The "worst-case scenario" can and does happen to businesses of all types, every day. Just think back to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Some of you may also remember the One Meridian Plaza fire in 1991 on the corner of 15th Street and South Penn Square in Philadelphia. Many law firms and other businesses were destroyed and never recovered.
Do you have a disaster recovery plan that includes backing up your law firm data?
I hope your law firm has a disaster recovery plan and that you're doing something to back up your firm's data. If you're not, and you haven't yet suffered any consequences, consider buying a lottery ticket on your way home this evening, because you're very lucky !
And if you're not backing up your data, you may even be in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or violating the ICO's Data Protection Laws
As any information technology professional  will tell you, the question is not if you will need a backup system, but when you will need to recover data.
Even if you are backing up, though, it is possible that you are not doing it adequately.
Backing up on a monthly or weekly basis is inadequate; if your backup takes place on the first Friday of the month and your file server suffers a hard drive crash on the fourth Tuesday, you've lost weeks of data and (in the case of a larger firm) perhaps millions of pounds' worth of work product and documentation of billable hours, among other valuable information.
Are you conducing file-level backups daily?
"At the very least, a file-level backup should be done each day," said Jeff Shaw, a senior support specialist with Systems Solution, Inc., a cloud services and IT support provider. "File-level backups excel for minor data loss scenarios, such as when you accidentally delete or overwrite a file. A file-level backup can restore the file easily and usually within a few minutes."
Shaw characterizes a daily backup schedule as a bare minimum.
"Conducting a file-level backup is even more effective when you run that backup multiple times during the day, or even on a continuous rolling basis, in which any change to any file on the system triggers an incremental update to the backup copy."
But companies back up their data at different levels for multiple reasons, Shaw said.
For our hypothetical fire scenario, a file-level backup is better than no backup, but it's not the best possible solution

What is the best data backup system for a disaster recovery scenario?

"For a disaster recovery scenario, a block level or image level backup is a better solution than a file-level backup," Shaw said.
While a file-level backup is a collection of copies of each individual file and folder that comprises your data, a block level backup pays no attention to individual files on your system. Rather, it essentially creates a clone of the entire disk where your data resides. A block level backup can restore not only your data files but the complete computing environment of the system on which they resided at the time the backup was created.
That's the kind of restoration ability your law firm needs when disaster strikes.
There will always be at least a couple of firms tempting fate by thinking something like is never going to happen to them.
Maybe they're right (Lets hope so !)  but disasters come in many forms some very much more common than others- accidental delete of a directory structure ; physical loss of a disk or server through age, malfunction, power surge ; flood causing loss of access to your premises ; major flood such as those in recent months in Cumbria, England.
Gina F. Rubel is an integrated marketing and public relations expert with a niche in legal marketing. The owner of Furia Rubel Communications, Gina and her agency have won national awards for law firm marketing, public relations, websites and strategic plans. She maintains a blog at www.ThePRLawyer.com, is a contributor to The Legal Intelligencer, Avvo Lawyernomics and The Huffington Post. You can find her on LinkedIn.