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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. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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