Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : October 2005

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 TECHNOLOGY TALK:

BY JOHN ANDERSON  

"Off-site Backup and Recovery"
By John Anderson

We often take the information stored on our computers for granted; as long as it is always there when we need it, we don’t put an extra thought toward what we would do if all of a sudden it wasn’t there. It is not until we get a virus or our hard drive crashes that we realize we need to back up our data. Even those who do back up their data can suffer from lost tapes or irregular backup schedules, leading to recovering data that is out of date or missing the most recent changes.

Data recover
is an essential consideration when developing a disaster plan, which seems to be a requirement for business owners today.

One of the most common methods of backing up data is recording it on a tape drive. This is very good method of backing up your data. Care has to be taken with where the tapes are stored after they are used. Keeping the tapes next to the computer will make it more convenient if you need to restore data after a virus attack, but both your computer and backup data will be destroyed if there is a fire. Tapes should be kept either off-site or in a fireproof box in a different area of the building.

Of Course, There is a Better Way...
Off-site data recovery is becoming a safe and reliable method of backing up your information. These data recovery companies have been making many improvements to their services over the years and they have become a very user-friendly and easy-to-use service.

Using an off-site data recovery service in the past often meant having to initiate the process yourself while retrieving your information in the event of a problem frequently took a long time. Now, it is pretty much a “set it and forget it” procedure. Information can be continuously sent to the off-site storage service via a secure Internet connection and retrieved instantly in the case of a problem.

That’s Great for a Big Company, but What About Me?
There are a handful of services that can affordably protect the data of individual computers, small and medium-sized businesses and help them recover it when bad things happen.

The company Live Vault (www.livevault.com) has an automated InSync service where backup data is stored at Live Vault’s off-site facility. They also have an upgraded service called InControl which allows data backup from multiple offices in a centralized location.

InSync costs $300 to $700 per system per month, and the license for InControl starts at $25,000, but there are no monthly service fees.

This may seem like a lot, but when you are faced with the loss of financial information or confidential customer information it should be regarded as an investment; it is life insurance for not only your PC but for your practice, as well. The cost of hiring a data recovery specialist, while being well worth the peace of mind you get from knowing that your information is safe and secure, would be far more expensive. Moreover, data recovery cannot always recover all of the original data.

The company Connected DataProtector (www.connected.com) offers an automatic data backup and user-friendly data retrieval. Their website showcases the number of customers and lists some impressive companies that could easily afford to staff and equip their own data recovery solutions if they wanted. Live Vault’s approach more resembles the message displayed on the sign outside the “Golden Arches” fast-food joint, advertising on their website the number of files recovered by people using their service. This drives home the point that, while bad things do happen, such companies can and do help make things better. In the process, they answer the question of what exactly you are paying for (you are not paying for them to store your data, but rather to replace your data when you need it).

LiveVault offers a complete and fully-automated data protection system that automatically and continuously backs up business server data, using a secure Internet connection to store the data off-site in the corporate datacenter or in a Live Vault facility where it is available for immediate recovery in the event of a system failure, virus, human error or other disaster.

I unexpectedly found out that Kroll Ontrack Inc. offers two major services: Ontrack Data Recovery (www.ontrack.com) and Kroll Ontrack (www.krollontrack.com). Ontrack Data Recovery offers data recovery services and software products to recover lost or inaccessible data for businesses and individuals while Kroll Ontrack provides electronic evidence services to law firms, corporations, and federal agencies.

Security
The other benefit of off-site data storage is that the information may be more secure that on your own system. The data is not only transmitted using a secure Internet connection, but it is also encrypted while being transmitted and stored. Sites like Live Vault must have the most reliable security available, for example, in order to comply with the new HIPAA Medical Records requirements.

Picking Up the Pieces
There are many reasons to use this service, many of them no more serious than accidentally deleting an important file or replacing files corrupted by a computer virus. Data recovery is also an essential consideration when developing a disaster plan, which seems to be a requirement for business owners today.

When a serious disaster does strike it is nice to know that you will be able to pick up and carry on where you left off. A disaster can destroy many valuable things; this is one way to keep your business information from becoming one of them.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: October 2005

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