Data Backup Best Practices

I’d like to point out the need to set up a protocol to check what’s on the backups since there are common errors.  Obviously, you should have backups both on-site, for fast local restore, and backups off-site, for ‘geo-redundant’ safety.  Sometime the data files you need to backup are not really where you think they are.

1.1 SQL databases aren’t being properly backed-up – sometimes there is no .bak file available.  If you just copy files when backing up, the file may not be there to backup.  A SQL script is necessary to write the secure data inside the SQL database to an external .bak file.

1.2 The SQL backup (.bak files) are stored on the same disk drive as the SQL database. When the drive fails you also loose the backup.

2. Archived data is taken off of the cloud.  For example, even though email may be hosted ‘ in the cloud’ it may have substantial archived data located only on the local user PC.  Last week we know where a firm had five PC’s stolen including a user whose PC had 9GB of email and attachments archived i.e. only stored on her local PC.
Fortunately the PC was imaged and the data was recovered, but most firms don’t image their PC’s.

Maybe the formula for backup is best expressed as:  DD + I = S@N   (Where DD is  Due Diligence, I is + Insurance = S@N is Sleep at Night)

Here are some best practice suggestions for your backups:

Designate one person to check for the presence of a reasonable quantity of files, monitor total GB being backed up, look for the critical .bak for SQL databases and keep several recent backups plus monthly and yearly backups in case to go back to a prior point in time.  If possible, have your backup protocol include the forwarding of a daily email status report to a designated individual(s).

For additional peace of mind ‘image’ PC’s and the file server(s).  Software to do this includes use of of Microsoft’s VSS (volume shadow service), or Apple’s Time Machine.    I know the Windows image approach only stores the same file one time, even if it is on ten PC’s, so it is very efficient.  An advantage of imaging is if for example a hard drive failed the image can be used to restore data and it will actually re-install all of your programs too.  That can save a ton of time. (Note: Imaging should not be used as a replacement of on and off site backups.)

Some practice management programs let you create a clone file or an automatically synchronized second database that replicates all of your critical calendar, contacts, matters, and related records including email, notes, documents, phone and billing records and related files (such as .pdf, .xls and .anx).

Check your insurance to see how much coverage you have for the next time you have an event –  fire, flood, theft, malware, malcontent, solar flare etc.

When it comes to backups you really do need a plan a, plan b and maybe a plan c.  Hopefully these suggestions will help you identify what the right backup protocol should be for your office.

Tom Caffrey
Premier Software
www.premiersoftware.com

By |2018-01-14T08:40:44+00:00July 2nd, 2012|Software, Tech Stuff|0 Comments

Lawyers Who Talk about Client’s Confidential Information on the Phone Won’t Use Automated Cloud Backup Services Because Fear of Hackers

Yesterday I saw the following on a lawyer list serve:

“I’m still concerned about the security of the information.  Anything involving software can be hacked. Although I freely admit to a tech deficient mind, still I have not seen any info which demonstrates that cloud computing is less risky than not using cloud computing.”

I responded to this message with this text:

“Which is easer to hack:

 1.  The hard copies of your documents in your office that a burglar could steal by breaking into your office or that might be destroyed if your building burns down, or
2.  The encrypted files on Amazon’s servers where our Jungle Disk auto-cloud system backs up our data every night without any human involvement?

P.S. If you use the highest level of Jungle Disk’s encryption it can’t be hacked and if you lose your key you’ll lose everything.”

A retired USAF guy answered me with:

After flying fighters and doing intel stuff, I served as the first squadron commander of a combined space test and aggressor squadron in the USAF. Space work has a lot of crossover with information security…hacking. I can promise you that anyone that thinks a piece of software is unhackable has spent little time with very bright millennials who may or may not have training with the “big boys” (the military or NSA) and who can crack almost anything…and if that individual cannot do it, they know someone who can.

We are deluding ourselves to think that our security is unhackable, anymore than a door is unbreakable. We have to simply trust that for the most part, we’re all too small for anyone to care about what is on our server, so the hacker doesn’t target us.”

The guy’s response kind of rubbed me the wrong way so I responded:

“YGBSM.  Typical wing puke who can’t see the forest from the trees.  I flew the F-4 Phantom in combat in Southeast Asia and taught very bright USAF pilots to fly the Phantom at an F-4 RTU for three years.

I don’t know computer security, but I do know that anybody who is afraid of state of the art cloud back ups or storage but uses the extremely low tech and highly vulnerable telephone to talk about client stuff while their office can burn to the ground (server destroyed) or be broken into (server stolen and then hacked) does not appreciate which threats have the greatest risk of occurring.  I personally know attorneys whose offices were destroyed and they didn’t have copies of their client files stored off site.  Oops!  When that happens all client info is lost.  I don’t know any lawyer whose encrypted data was hacked, nor have I read about it happening.  If you know about a lawyer or law firm whose encrypted data was hacked please tell us about it.  There are reasons hackers want to attack top secret U.S. and military databases and systems, but those reasons don’t apply to you and me and our data.  Bright millennials are not going to waste their time on either of us or any lawyer on this list serve.

The issue in not whether encrypted data can be hacked (the trees), but which threats have the higher risk of actually occurring (the forest) and which threats have a sufficiently high risk of occurring that justify using your resources to protect against?  When I was flying combat missions over Route Pack 6 in North Vietnam in 1972 I got a lot of threat information from the RHAW (radar homing and warning) gear, the mod 1 eyeballs and the radio.  Red Crown broadcast the location of all MiGs airborne over North Vietnam and warned flights when a MiG got close.  I had to analyze the threats and determine which threats, if any, were the highest threats and take action accordingly.  For example, when the azimuth/section light (fondly called the “ah shit” light) illuminated, the launch light flashed on and off and I got a loud missile launch tone in my headset I knew my biggest threat that required immediate attention was the 32 foot long supersonic flying telephone pole that was tracking my airplane.

I agree that a thief may exist who is a very bright millennial who could hack into my encrypted cloud-based data, but I have a better chance of wining a Powerball jackpot than that happening.  I’m much more likely to lose everything in a fire, natural disaster or a hard drive crash.  The latter is the biggest threat all lawyers and law firms face.

You said “We are deluding ourselves to think that our security is unhackable.”  When I said my encrypted cloud backup system couldn’t be hacked I meant it could not be hacked in the real world you and I live in.  Nobody is going to use the resources necessary to hack into data that you or I encrypt.  It is delusional, however, to fail to create an automated data back system that stores your data off site and that makes automatic daily backups because the biggest cyber threat that every lawyer must protect against is the crash of a hard drive that causes data to be lost because of no backup or old and cold back ups. Yes I know of lawyers who lost data because they didn’t properly backup or didn’t back up off site at all.  I met yesterday with an Intel engineer who has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering who told me he was backing up all of his home computer data “every once in a while” to an external hard drive that just crashed and caused him to lose 350 gigs of data.

P.S.  I’ve been 100% paperless since 2004 – 150,000 plus documents on my server that I can access from anywhere in the world using my browser and an internet connection.  Yes a hacker dude could bust into my system, then again I could be killed by a shark that falls out of the sky and lands on me.”

What  do you think?  Leave a comment.

By |2018-01-14T08:40:44+00:00June 29th, 2012|Ramblings|2 Comments

Lawline Offers 1,000+ Hours of Free Continuing Legal Education

“The value of legal education is higher than ever, unfortunately so is the price.  But with the relaunch of its website, Lawline.com has set out on a mission to provide legal education to all those eager to learn, for free. With over 1,000 hours of content available, Lawline has recently enabled users to have free access to its entire course library.  What started as free mobile-phone access and the original free content website Learn.Lawline.com, has evolved into a completely new education tool for attorneys, professionals and avid learners everywhere.

While those who seek CLE and CPE credits must pay for the certification, every course can be viewed, with full access to written materials, course notes and discussions, without purchase.  Viewers are given the easy option to view for free or purchase for credit.

One of the most beneficial tools of Lawline.com’s new website launch includes a completely revamped course center, allowing attorneys and other users to make the most of their easy learning experience.  CEO David Schnurman emphasizes the best aspect of the course catalog, “SmartNotes” as a crucial tool in Lawline’s educational reach.  “SmartNotes” enables the user to enter and record notes at any point during the course.  The notes are archived and can be later accessed bringing the viewer to the same point in the course at which the note was taken.

Schnurman’s overall goal is to cater to the “lifelong learner.”  By opening access to Lawline’s courses and even making it a point to continuously add non-CE courses, he has begun to do just that.

For more information please visit www.lawline.com or Robert Ambrogi’s recent blog article “Lawline Opens its Full CLE Catalog to Free Access.”

This article was written by Stephanie Paeprer.  Contact her at stephanie.paeprer@lawline.com

By |2018-01-14T08:51:54+00:00June 27th, 2012|Ramblings, Tech Stuff|1 Comment

How to Use the New Facebook WordPress Plugin: A Complete Guide

Facebook recently created a WordPress plugin that  allows your WordPress website or blog to interface smoothly with Facebook.  I recently installed this free plug in and it looks great.  I had been using a third party plugin to send content from my websites to my Facebook business page, but for some reason Facebook terminated that plugin’s interface with Facebook, which caused all content put on my Facebook page by that plugin to disappear.  The experience soured my on using a third party WordPress plugin for Facebook.

Now problem solved with the new Facebook WordPress plugin.  It looks great and I can’t wait to get it up and running after reading “How to Use the New Facebook WordPress Plugin: A Complete Guide.”  The article begins with:

Facebook has released a highly comprehensive plugin for WordPress. With the new plugin, you can perform sophisticated auto-publishing to your Timeline and add many Facebook features to your blog. This makes advanced Facebook social sharing features accessible to everyone. This detailed article tells you how to install and use this powerful plugin.

By |2018-01-14T08:40:44+00:00June 27th, 2012|Facebook, WordPress|1 Comment

iLawyer: What Happens When Computers Replace Attorneys?

The article linked to below discusses a topic I have been preaching for years.  I tell all my lawyer friends, especially young lawyers, that technology has changed and will continue to change the practice of law and you must embrace it and use it to your advantage or your revenue will decrease.  What do you think?

The Atlantic: “After decades of killing low-end jobs in retail, software is finally doing the people’s bidding by creating a world with fewer lawyers.   In the end, after you’ve stripped away their six-figure degrees, their state bar memberships, and their proclivity for capitalizing Odd Words, lawyers are just another breed of knowledge worker. They’re paid to research, analyze, write, and argue — not unlike an academic, a journalist, or an accountant. So when software comes along that’s smarter or more efficient at those tasks than a human with a JD, it spells trouble.   That’s one of the issues the Wall Street Journal raised yesterday in an article on the ways computer algorithms are slowly replacing human eyes when it comes to handling certain pieces of large, high-stakes litigation.”

By |2012-07-16T19:03:12+00:00June 21st, 2012|Ramblings, Tech Stuff|0 Comments

The Ultimate Guide to the New Google Analytics Social Reports

Kissmetrics:  “Social media brings us free traffic, scales well, and requires zero up-front investment. There’s just one problem: tracking social media would make a coal miner weep.  I’ve got good news. Tracking social media just got a LOT easier. Recently, Google Analytics received a whole new batch of social reports that break down your social traffic so you know whether or not your social media marketing is working.  I’m going to walk you through each new report so you know how to use these puppies. By the end of this post, you’ll be completely comfortable using the new Google Analytics social reports.”

By |2018-01-14T08:40:44+00:00June 20th, 2012|Google|0 Comments

Google+ Is No Longer Optional For Law Firm Marketing

Law Web Marketing:  “Google has once again changed the rules for law firm marketers. What does that mean for your Web strategy? Google+ and Google profiles are a must for collecting positive reviews that show up in Google’s local listings.  In the latest change from the online search engine giant, Google accounts and reviews from clients are now firmly linked. Anyone who wants to leave a review for your law firm must have a Google+ account.”

By |2018-01-14T08:51:54+00:00June 20th, 2012|Google|0 Comments

How to Promote Your Blog With Social Media

Marc Pittman on Social  Media Examiner:  “Are you looking to use social media to promote your blog?  Sharing your blog posts on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and even Tumblr can help your content gain significant exposure.  But each social media platform is distinct with different benefits and abilities. You need a simple process to tailor your social sharing to generate as much engagement as you can on each of these platforms.  Here’s a process you can use to ensure your posts get maximum mileage. Consider these steps and adapt them to the social platforms where you find your customers.”

Marc’s article explains how to take advantage of:

  1. Tumblr
  2. Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn
  3. Google +
By |2018-01-14T08:40:44+00:00June 19th, 2012|Facebook, Google, Marketing, Social Media, Twitter|0 Comments

Are You Struggling To Get More Business From Your Website?

Legal Marketing Mavens:  “Are you driving regular traffic but it feels like no one is taking the next step to pick up the phone and call? . . . A great way to neutralize the overwhelm and capture a prospect’s information anyway–even if they aren’t quite ready to call–is to implement a strategy of lead generation.  Effective lead generation is the process of offering something of value to the prospect in exchange for their contact information.”

By |2012-07-16T19:08:11+00:00June 11th, 2012|Blogs, Marketing|2 Comments

25 Awesome Free Google Tools for Marketers

Kissmetrics:  “Whether you love Google or love to hate Google, you have to admit one thing. Google offers a lot of free tools to use with the convenience of being able to access them with one login.  Marketers in particular should take advantage of these tools to get more out of their search engine and social media marketing experience. The following are some of the top Google tools marketers should embrace from A to (almost) Z!”

By |2018-01-14T08:40:45+00:00June 6th, 2012|Google, Marketing|0 Comments

Top 6 Marketing Mistakes Lawyers Make On Their Websites

Stephen Fairley of the Rainmaker Institute:  “Websites are an essential part of a law firm’s success when it comes to reaching and converting prospective clients.  If you don’t market your law firm, few will know you exist. Your law firm relies on quality prospects and returning clients.  Let’s get clear about the challenges we all face.  As you know, the legal industry is evolving more rapidly than ever before. Competition, technology and consumerism seem to be taking huge bites out of our business possibilities.   Not to mention the challenges of not being able to reach our desired prospects. We’re working harder, feeling more stressed, and not yet seeing the results we want. We are afraid the old answers to building and sustaining our law firms just don’t seem to be working any more.   Whether we like it or not, it’s time to take action and re-engineer our marketing efforts and our law practice  – or risk our futures.   With this in mind, let’s talk about the most common law firm marketing mistakes many lawyers make on their websites and how to correct them.”

By |2018-01-14T08:51:54+00:00June 6th, 2012|Marketing, Websites|0 Comments

Copywriting Tutorials for Crafting Effective Copy

Copyblogger:  “Copywriting is one of the most essential elements of effective online marketing. The art and science of direct-response copywriting involves strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action. . . . This tutorial is designed to get you up and running with the basics of writing great copy in ten easy lessons. Afterward, you’ll get recommendations for professional training, plus links to tutorials on SEO copywriting and writing killer headlines.

  1. Don’t Read This or the Kitty Gets It!
  2. To Be or Not To Be?
  3. How to Write Headlines That Work
  4. Why Writing Headlines Deserves a Second Installment
  5. The Structure of Persuasive Copy
  6. Now Featuring Benefits!
  7. “Kids Eat Free” and Other Irresistible Offers
  8. This Article Rocks. . . I Guarantee It!
  9. The Long and Short of Copywriting
  10. The #1 Secret to Great Copy Is. . .
By |2018-01-14T08:51:54+00:00June 6th, 2012|Marketing|0 Comments

More Email Signature Block Spam

I have a new contestant for the worst email signature block spam of the year.  I got an email message today with the following text after the sender’s name:

This e-mail transmission contains information that is intended to be privileged and confidential pursuant to the attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine. It is intended only for the addressee, or the employee or agent responsible for delivering it to the intended recipient. If you receive this e-mail in error, please do not read, copy or disseminate it in any manner. Please reply by e-mail and delete or discard the message. Your assistance in correcting this error is appreciated.

Although this e-mail and any attachments are believed to be free of any virus or other defects that might affect any computer system into which it is received and opened, it is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure that it is virus-free.

If your e-mail contained a question, the above response to your question is based solely on the information contained in your message. I would likely need to know more facts and possibly conduct research before giving a response on which I would expect you to rely in the conduct of your affairs. There also may be exceptions to the general legal principles that are discussed in this response. This response is based on my knowledge of Arizona estates and trust law only, and not any other state.

No information contained in any e-mail is a substitute for a personal consultation with an attorney. This message is not intended to provide legal advice, imply an attorney-client relationship, nor be deemed to contain the signature of the sender nor any other party. The sender takes no responsibility for reliance on this message by anyone without specific, actual and not implied, independent authorization by the sender to so rely.

Pursuant to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, nothing contained in this communication was intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose. No one, without our express prior written permission, may use or refer to any tax advice in this communication in promoting, marketing, or recommending a partnership or other entity, investment plan or arrangement to any other party.

Do you have any examples of signature block spam in an email?  Add a comment if you do.

By |2018-01-14T08:40:45+00:00June 4th, 2012|Ramblings|0 Comments

The Beginners Guide to Twitter

Kissmetrics:  “For a company diving into Twitter for the first time, it can be a little intimidating. Where do you start? How do you get followers? How are you supposed to get customers? These are just a few of the questions that arise for businesses that are beginning their Twitter efforts.  In this post I’ll address some of these questions and give some advice for making sure you have an effective Twitter account. But before we begin, and just in case you don’t read anything beyond this point, please always remember this:

The key to remember with social media is that it’s about engagement.

It should not be looked at as a place to advertise your products. It should be looked at as a place to have meaningful conversations with people important to your business.”

By |2018-01-14T08:40:45+00:00June 2nd, 2012|Marketing, Social Media, Twitter|0 Comments

Why Facebook Is Letting You Promote to Your Fans and Why You Should

Duct Tape Marketing:  “Facebook recently added a new ‘promoted post’ feature that makes it dead simple to promote individual status updates to you existing fans for a fee. This will be one of the more lucrative features that Facebook has created and comes as a sign that Wall Street needs them to ‘show me the money.’  First off, this move clearly highlights what many have been saying, but until now few could quantify. Facebook uses various signals to determine which of your fans gets to see your status updates in their timeline. If you have lots of fans, but little interaction with those fans, you can bet only about 10% of your fans actually ever see your updates. . . . With the new ‘promoted’ updates feature Facebook spells out to page admins exactly how many fans are seeing each post. Admins are then offered the ability to buy more impressions for $10, $20 or more.

By |2018-01-14T08:40:45+00:00June 2nd, 2012|Facebook, Marketing|0 Comments

Facebook to Marketers, It’s Time for a Click to Action

Brian Solis:  “Marketers must now rethink their Facebook strategy to define click paths and results. As Josh Constine recently reported, Facebook is now giving advertisers access to its API to improve post-click actions. In his post, Constine walks through a series of various scenarios for brands, developers and also local businesses to take advantage of the new Ads API. Here, we’ll talk more about how to start with strategy.  With the updated Ads API, advertisers must now think beyond the ‘Like.’ Facebook’s Ads API will allow advertisers to present ads most likely to take specific post-click action such as content sharing, in-app purchases, Facebook Offers, among a list of other actions (see below). In the great pursuit of ROI, Facebook is also taking a lot of the guesswork out of ad campaign development and deployment to enhance desired performance. The new improvements give Facebook advertisers an unprecedented opportunity to connect with specific market segments based on intelligence to introduce more informed campaigns that trigger relevant clicks, conversions, and return.”

By |2018-01-14T08:40:45+00:00June 2nd, 2012|Facebook, Marketing|0 Comments

A Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Insights

Kissmetrics:  “Facebook Insights is a pretty powerful tool for those wanting to track user interaction on their Facebook Fan Page. Facebook Insights can be seen by all the admins of your page and it can help you track the number of active users to better understand page performance.  By using Facebook Insights you’ll be able to determine the best time of day to post, the best day of the week to post and what type of content is most popular. It is important to note that the Facebook Insights tool is constantly updated to reflect your page’s developments and any patterns that may form. So you’ll need to keep checking back to keep in the loop.  Here are some useful steps for individuals new to Facebook Insights:”

By |2018-01-14T08:40:45+00:00May 31st, 2012|Facebook, Social Media|0 Comments

DYMO LabelWriter 450 Turbo Printer

All  attorneys need to put USPS postage on letters, envelops and packages.  Most lawyers and law firms need to print labels from time to time.  The two most common types of labels are file labels and shipping labels.  The DYMO LabelWriter printers are made specifically to print labels of all kinds, including USPS postage stamps.  The printers are tiny and do not use toner.  They use thermal printing technology that causes the content or image to be zapped onto the label paper.  You buy rolls of paper for the type of label you want to print.  The rolls contain 500 labels or 200 postage stamps.

Every secretary and legal assistant and some lawyers in my law firm have connected to their computer one of two little printers, the DYMO Label Writer 450 Twin Turbo label & USPS stamp printer or the DYMO LabelWriter 450 Turbo High-Speed Postage and Label Printer for PC & MAC.  These great and inexpensive little printers make printing shipping and file labels and postage stamps a breeze.

Both of these printers will print USPS approved postage stamps that you can peel and stick on letters, envelops and packages. You purchase postage online using supplied software after you open a postage account.  We use the DYMO Label Writer 450 Twin Turbo label & USPS stamp printer to print both shipping labels and postage stamps because it holds two rolls of paper, one for shipping labels and one for postage.  Because it is a pain the neck to change the label paper you will want this dual purpose printer unless you never plan on printing anything other than one type of label or stamps.  We only have one dual paper roll printer.

Printing one or more stamps is a piece of cake.  You just go into the DYMO software, select the price of the stamp you want to print, select the quantity of stamps then click on the print icon.  The printer immediately prints the designated number of stamps.  You peel off the paper then peel off the stamps and place them on an envelope or package.

Except for the one person in our office who has the dual roll printer, everybody else has the single roll DYMO LabelWriter 450 Turbo High-Speed Postage and Label Printer for PC & MAC loaded with shipping label paper.  When I need a shipping label it takes a few seconds to copy the entire name and address from a Word document or from Time Matters, our contact management database.  I then click on the DYMO label icon in Word, paste the name and address into the DYMO software then click on the print icon.  A nice high quality shipping label prints with our firm name and logo above the address.  Lastly I peel the label off and stick it on the big envelope.  The whole process takes about 15 seconds.

I have used a DYMO label printer for many years.  It is a great little label printer – a must have item if you print labels or if you want to avoid going to the post office to buy stamps.

By |2018-01-14T08:40:45+00:00May 31st, 2012|Hardware, Stuff We Recommend|1 Comment