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When the server crashes, will you be prepared?

We live in a digital age. This is not news to anyone. In fact, if you’re reading this, you are visiting the online version of The Daily Record in lieu of the traditional newsprint form.

Of course, with the digital age comes digital problems. I arrived at my office a few Monday mornings ago to the ever-welcome news that our server’s firewall had been breached and a pirate of the Internet seas had himself or herself a Friday evening of merriment deleting many of our files.

Fortunately, our server has an automatic backup and our files are encrypted. Although the automatic backup is supposed to be continually running, realistically it backs up about once per day. Therefore, my colleagues and I only sustained a loss of some of the files that we had saved to the server that Friday. The encryption protects data in these files from exposure. Most importantly, we actually have somebody in our office who knows how to access and reboot the server and implement the backup program.

As lawyers, we hear much about file security, data management, and the importance of having backup systems in place. This is an essential part of practice management. But, if you are like me, you likely find yourself more concerned about those issues of your practice six inches in front of you, instead of taking time to think about the hypothetical, “am I prepared?”

So, having just come out of a crisis situation, to quote Internet meteorology sensation Frankie MacDonald, “BE PREPARED!” Have your server backup plan ready. Understand how your server backup works. Check to make sure that your server backup is actually backing up as it should be. If you are using cloud-based software for emails and billing, check to make sure these programs are backing up as they should. If you have an IT person on staff or on contract with your firm, it probably wouldn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with what the safeguards are to protect and restore your online files. Volumes of ethics opinions have been written about the duties of attorneys to understand and secure their electronic data and to understand what actions to take if and when the server is breached.

As for me, all I can say is that if our server had not backed up properly, I probably wouldn’t be able to write this. I’d be curled up in fetal position with my malpractice carrier on speakerphone.

And to all of my readers, I wish you all a very happy new year! I’ll see you in 2016.

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