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IT in practice: Save the data

Every Issue

Cite as: Jan/Feb 2015 89 (1/2) LIJ, p.82

Here are some common IT problems practitioners need to get to grips with.

Am I exposed if I don’t upgrade my Windows XP computers?

Absolutely. Windows XP was a wonderful operating system however no more updates or security patches from Microsoft means that the operating system becomes more vulnerable to attack or malicious code every day. Don’t let your data or systems be compromised.

How do I know if my backups are working?

A high percentage of practice managers don’t know enough about their backups. It’s one thing to say the IT guy takes care of it, however actually knowing whether your data is backed up, and even recoverable, affords a good night’s sleep. Any backup software will support notifications so don’t leave it up to the IT guy to tell you when something goes wrong. Make sure you receive a notification on success or failure of your backups.

Can I be productive with a tablet?

There are definite benefits when using a tablet, but you need to make sure that a number of points are addressed. As most practice management applications will only run on a Microsoft operating system, make sure you try Windows 8 before making the investment as it works very differently from Apple’s iPad for example. If you don’t mind the different user interface, next step is to make sure your applications actually support Windows 8. Finally, I always recommend selecting a tablet that supports a docking station, which allows you to connect your tablet to a larger external monitor and devices when back in the office.

What is Cloud?

Cloud is quite simply a large number of powerful computers connected to each other delivering services via a network or internet connection. Common examples of these services include email, internet banking and even video conferencing.

Is my data safe in the Cloud?

The answer to this can be found in the terms and conditions of the service provider engaged to provide the Cloud service. As the Cloud has exploded into every industry, there are many service providers looking to benefit from its growth with a generic offering that may not be suitable for a firm’s specific requirements. Also be aware that a lot of providers don’t even have their infrastructure located in Australian data centres and are subject to different privacy and security regulations.

More storage, again? Managing data growth and security

A technology side effect we continue to see is the amount of data that is created every day, whether from documents, large digital scans or enormous file and email databases. It is becoming rare that data is deleted or even archived, so it becomes very easy for the amount of information available to actually become a problem. Servers have a finite amount of space available when compared to Cloud offerings. If you find that you need to keep all of your information, consider archiving or moving your data to a Cloud service that is secure, easily accessible and that you are comfortable with.

Why use the Cloud instead of a file server?

There are many different ways to answer this question, though cost and convenience tend to be the two main factors that influence the decision on which direction to take. As a file server can cost you thousands of dollars to purchase, maintain, support and upgrade, considering a Cloud service starting at around $100 a month (depending on data and users) is an excellent alternative. Cloud also offers many benefits that would normally cost you a significant amount to achieve should you have your own file server including offsite backups, fast and easy access from any location and device along with high levels of data protection and security.

Is the paperless firm just a myth?

While it can certainly be challenging to completely remove paper from any firm, there are definitely methods to capture existing physical files for secure digital storage along with reducing unnecessary printing and paper and print wastage. These include follow-me print where a user must swipe a card at the printer before the job is completed, stopping “forgotten” prints and making sure sensitive documents are only available to those who printed them. Finally, complete Scan to Cloud and even Scan to Matter solutions are also available for document capture including automatic Cost Recovery.

My IT costs are out of control, what can I do about it?

Look around, ask what other firms are doing with their IT. As technology continues to become more flexible in terms of delivery to applications and data from any location and device, operating costs are also beginning to drop. In a few years, spending thousands on a server will be a thing of the past and a majority of services will be stored and secured in data centres. Consider adopting a fixed cost model per user for all services from desktops and laptops to cloud services, offering an easy to manage head count cost for all hardware and software utilised by the practice.

How can I keep up with technology?

Consider renting technology so that it can be refreshed and upgraded easily without any capital outlay. As law firms tend to be slow when refreshing their hardware, staff productivity can be affected very quickly, thus reducing their efficiency in simple day to day tasks as they wait for an application or information to respond.


NICHOLAS CARR is managing director of BOAB IT (www.boabit.com.au) which is part of the LIV Member Benefits Privileges Program.

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