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Start Page: 5 tips to better manage your digital data

Kim Brand
June 20, 2012
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Kim BrandYou are a digital pack rat. You have no shame when you admit you have 100,000 emails in your inbox; in fact, you say it with a sense of accomplishment. You keep thousands of Word Perfect documents for clients whose names you don’t remember, even though you no longer use Word Perfect.

According to IBM, 90 percent of all the digital data existing today was created in the last two years. Good news: Hard drive capacities are expected to grow to multiple thousands of gigabytes (1000 gigabytes = 1 terabyte) in the next few years. After that, new technologies are expected to allow dozens of terabytes of storage on your laptop; enough storage for digital copies of every book, movie and song ever made.

Bad habits usually have bad consequences. But the consequences of mismanaging unfathomable amounts of data may be hard to, well, fathom. So allow me to scold you for your bloated inbox, chaotic file system and unkempt photos before you suffer the consequences of your untidy ways.

Here is five-step plan to manage lots of data:

1. Segregate active data from archive data

Many businesses employ accounting systems that accumulate data over years. Email is commonly ordered by the date it was received (and kept forever). But lots of data that is important today may become less important in a few years. Design your digital file storage system to separate information that is routinely accesbrandtip01_062212.gifsed from that which is used less frequently.

Outlook has a very useful ‘archive’ feature that can automate the movement of older email to archive folders. Allowing email to accumulate in your primary mail folder can lead to data corruption that can result in the loss of all your email. It also makes it very time consuming to find anything, back up or restore.

2. Isolate static data from dynamic data

Most hard drives are filled with a mix of data that you can’t change: the operating system, drivers, programs, etc. and the data you can change: documents, databases, etc. It is common to back up everything at the same time – but you don’t need to. Give higher priority to what changes and is irreplaceable if lost. You can always get another copy of Office from Microsoft.

If data changes often you’ll want more backups. Static data only requires one.

3. Outsource data management – use ‘hosted’ solutions

One of the best ways to manage data is to let someone else do it. Hosted email systems place the burden for backing up and managing critical email data on the provider. Microsoft now offers hosted Exchange for only $4/mailbox per month.brandtip02_062212.gif

Many online backup systems are suitable for photos and other files. You may not care to back up confidential client data in the cloud. In a well-designed system, you can specify groups of files that are important to keep, but not a killer if compromised.

4. Avoid copies of copies

One of the most useless wastes of storage space – and sources of confusion – is making copies of the same file in multiple places. This occurs when attachments are distributed to several people in the same firm. Instead: send a reference (a ‘link’ or just a description) to where the file is.

Transferring files to a server from a PC about to be replaced is another example. When the new PC gets installed, the files get transferred to it from the server, but the files remain on the server forever! Catch that mistake and you could save money by avoiding an upgrade to your backup system or lowered offsite storage charges.

5. Get good at searching

It’s no wonder that Windows 7 replaced the ‘Run’ command with the ‘Search’ tool on the start menu. Search will be more important than ever when we have millions of files at our fingertips.brandtip03_062212.gif

Remember: It is much faster and easier to find something if you put it in the right place. Mom was right.•

__________

Kim Brand is a technology expert, author and president of Computer Experts, Inc.  In addition to the Indiana Lawyer, he writes for West Publishing, the ILTA and the IL Bar Association. Kim also contributed to the ‘On-Premises’ section of the recently released ILTSO.ORG legal technical standards, and he is the inventor of the FileSafe Server. You may reach him at Kim@ComputerExpertsIndy.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.
 

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  • manage your documents
    A good way to manage your documents is to use document management software. Such software (e.g. Globodox) lets you convert your hard copy documents into digital formats and helps you manage all digital documents in efficient ways. You can index, secure, organize, search and collaborate on documents. If you need advanced capabilities, you can use Globodox to automate document based business processes, keep an audit trail etc. It also lets you back-up your documents online.

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  1. File under the Sociology of Hoosier Discipline ... “We will be answering the complaint in due course and defending against the commission’s allegations,” said Indianapolis attorney Don Lundberg, who’s representing Hudson in her disciplinary case. FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW ... Lundberg ran the statist attorney disciplinary machinery in Indy for decades, and is now the "go to guy" for those who can afford him .... the ultimate insider for the well-to-do and/or connected who find themselves in the crosshairs. It would appear that this former prosecutor knows how the game is played in Circle City ... and is sacrificing accordingly. See more on that here ... http://www.theindianalawyer.com/supreme-court-reprimands-attorney-for-falsifying-hours-worked/PARAMS/article/43757 Legal sociologists could have a field day here ... I wonder why such things are never studied? Is a sacrifice to the well connected former regulators a de facto bribe? Such questions, if probed, could bring about a more just world, a more equal playing field, less Stalinist governance. All of the things that our preambles tell us to value could be advanced if only sunshine reached into such dark worlds. As a great jurist once wrote: "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." Other People's Money—and How Bankers Use It (1914). Ah, but I am certifiable, according to the Indiana authorities, according to the ISC it can be read, for believing such trite things and for advancing such unwanted thoughts. As a great albeit fictional and broken resistance leaders once wrote: "I am the dead." Winston Smith Let us all be dead to the idea of maintaining a patently unjust legal order.

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