When using cloud-based programs, data is stored on a remote server to be retrieved at the convenience of the user. Whether you’re using Dropbox, Google Drive or your cloud-based practice management program, all of these systems work the same way – allowing you to upload your data and access it through the Internet. While this type of data storage may feel new, but the technology has been used for years. Email providers like Google, AOL and Hotmail used cloud storage long before its abilities were extended to other applications, including legal-specific programs.
Traditionally data is stored on your computer’s physical hard drive or on the firm’s internal server located in the office. With this type of storage there are disaster recovery concerns and the risk of data loss, as well as the costs and time associated with managing these in-house systems. Cloud-based storage offers a more secure alternative, with options for firms of all sizes.
Physical location of data
Cloud-based programs store data offsite, on remote servers than can be as small as a single server or as big as millions of servers spread out across multiple locations. Many times these servers are part of a larger data center, which typically offers features such as redundant backups and physical security, including security cameras, restricted access and mantraps. The extensive security and backups, along with 24/7 management, offer a much more secure option for ensuring data protection.
Storing data through cloud-based servers offers several advantagesincluding:
- Ability to create redundant backups so data is protected in the event of a natural disaster or data corruption at a particular data center location
- Remote mobile access
- Ease of sharing documents
- Additional security, such as encryption during transfer and while at rest
These data centers can be located anywhere in the world, so it’s important for law firms to research where their vendors are housing data in order to maintain compliance. Dropbox, for example, stores their data on servers based in the United States, making it a common choice for law firms. Even if a vendor doesn’t appear to be directly related to document storage, it’s still necessary for firms to ask where their data is stored if it is a cloud-based program.