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Comment: Re:Just buy a NAS (Score 4, Informative) 272

by rawket.scientist (#42426669) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Easiest Way To Consolidate Household Media?
This! I Asked Slashdot about cloud storage for our small office a while back, and we ended up getting a four-bay QNAP NAS. That's probably overkill for home use, but we've been completely satisfied, and I'm seriously considering a lighter-weight edition for personal use.

Comment: Re:AD Domain Services (Score 1) 227

Does your law office have any ambitions to grow?

Not exponentially, at least in terms of staff. I don't expect us to top 20 bodies at any time during the useful life of this hardware. But I do expect more and more courts to go the way of the federal system with PACER/ECF. In fact, one of our local jurisdictions is already e-Filing. And we are increasingly able to get, say, squad car video in digital formats. So I do expect our data volume to increase at a rapid clip. We're at ~100 GB now; I don't want anything less than 2 TB of storage room.

Comment: Re:Software that needs a server? (Score 1) 227

We've played with Amicus, which is server based, but not been thrilled. We do a lot of contingent work, so the hourly billing features aren't so important. We also do a lot of travel, so the ability to check the office calendar on a smart phone, or copy a client's file onto a USB stick, is indispensable.

Otherwise, we're too small for Sharepoint and one person handles our books with a local install of QuickBooks.

Comment: Re:Cloud... (Score 1) 227

Call us cousins up here in tornado alley, and on the floodplain of a major river. I am very, very interested in using cloud-based services for offsite backup - the further from our next federal disaster declaration, the better.

That said, I'd rather get a dropbox or carbonite style service but work off of local copies for our hour-to-hour needs. We're on a DSL connection and I have not been delighted by any cloud-based word processor I've tried.

Comment: Re:Why host internally? Move data into the cloud. (Score 1) 227

3. Legal documents are written using serious software, not trivial web apps. They have numerous technical requirements and typographical conventions that must be strictly adhered to, in some cases to the point where courts will specify the precise font you must use for all submissions, for example. You don't write this sort of thing in Google Docs, where the concept of a cross-reference has yet to appear and the numbering styles available are one small step past "numbered" and "not numbered".

This!

We have fifteen years worth of investment in carefully styled MS Word documents. Format matters, not just for courts, but for clients who expect a certain level of professionalism and consistency. Telling a client, "Yeah it looks all funny because we decided to start using iGoogleBook's TweetDocs and haven't got it all figured out yet," does not inspire confidence. Also, our best typists are 80 wpm and/or using keyboard shortcuts as a matter of spinal reflex. Cloud document services just aren't there yet.

Comment: Re:AD Domain Services (Score 1) 227

We have a very binary approach to data access. Everyone in our small office needs to be able to see all of the client files. No one outside of our office needs to see a blinking thing. So by one-size-fits-all, I mean that our receptionist has access to the same file set that our senior partner does - she has to, if she's going to be able to tell a client when his next court date is.

Comment: Re:What skillset do you have? (Score 2) 227

At this point, I've flushed about two days of what would otherwise be billable hours in trying to nurse our old server back to health, and now I'm here on Sunday trying to figure out where to go next. You're right that the process would have been worse if I hadn't been able to look up and quickly decipher a few key error messages online, but I regard a certain amount of time as the price of doing business.

With Windows, I'd call myself a power user, but I'm no full fledged network admin. I'm not intimidated by a CLI and a bit of a learning curve, but I don't have commands memorized, either. With *nix, I'm only slightly more skilled than a monkey banging on the keyboard at random.

Comment: Re:NAS (Score 1) 227

I'll readily concede that I cannot root-proof a NAS device on my own, or anything else for that matter. I'm pretty limited in my ability to troubleshoot a mis-configured firewall, too. But we have to have something, and I'm mainly wondering if a NAS device is inherently more vulnerable or more buggy than a full-on file server.

Clients emphatically do not have access to our file server. Quite a few of them are facing very serious criminal charges, and a certain number might even be guilty. Frequently a client will want to send us files; we accept those by e-mail or physical media. Occasionally a client will ask for a copy of his file; we're pleased to burn that to CD-ROM.

At present, we do not have an FTP server. We'd had a fairly hefty network (for a business of our size, at least) set up back in 2008, but I'm not married to anything so long as we can get access to our files at off hours and on the road.

Comment: Re:I'm not sure what your goal is. (Score 2) 227

Agreed that RAID is a must, as is independent backup. At present, we have a tape drive. Sometimes the secretary remembers to run it, sometimes she doesn't. But even when she does, she keeps the tapes on site and close by "so we don't lose them". One small fire, one small flood, one pissant vandal, and *shudder*. I know the cloud backup providers will surrender to subpoena power without a fight. But I also know how to get a protective order on attorney-client privileged files after the subpoena is issued. As I see it, there's no way to keep any kind of record, ever, without risking an outsider discovering it. But if cloud-based backups (especially automated, encrypted cloud-based backups) let us mitigate our disaster risk and cut out the oops-forgot-to-change-the-tape factor, they're the lesser of two evils.

Right now, we're a two attorney firm (me and my boss, who's very game but a little green when it comes to tech), looking to hire a third. We also have a pool of about five support staffers. We all have to be able to access one another's files - I'll write a memo to file, which Boss will review, the he'll dictate a letter for Paralegal A, who asks Paralegal B to help her find the recipient addresses and print off the enclosures, and then back to Paralegal A who scans and files the outgoing letter to our correspondence. The paralegals are high turnover, and prone to downloading scamware. I do what I can viz education and virus removal, but there are limits. We also travel cross-country with a specialty arbitration practice we have, and need to be able to access client files from the road.

As to what our server doesn't do, we POP into our e-mail, use Google Calendar for our scheduling, and have our simple little WordPress website hosted offsite. No real reason to change this at this point.

I'm not OK with former co-workers making backups and carrying them off; no attorney is. But I'm even less OK with trying to parcel out file access on a case-by-case and employee-by-employee basis

+ - Ask Slashdot: Stepping down from an office server to NAS-only

Submitted by rawket.scientist
rawket.scientist (812855) writes "I'm a full time lawyer and part time nerd doing most of the IT support for my small (~10 person) firm. We make heavy use of our old Windows Server 2003 machine for networked storage, and we use it as a DNS server (by choice, not necessity), but we don't use it for our e-mail, web hosting, productivity or software licensing. No Sharepoint, no Exchange, etc. Now old faithful is giving signs of giving out, and I'm seriously considering replacing it with a NAS device like the Synology DS1512+ or Dell PowerVault NX200. Am I penny-wise but pound foolish here? And is it overambitious for someone who's only dabbled in networking 101 to think of setting up a satisfactory, secure VPN or FTP server on one of these? We've had outside consultants and support in the past, but I always get the first "why is it doing this" call, and I like to have the answer, especially if I was the one who recommended the hardware."

Comment: Re:This is good (Score 3, Informative) 527

by rawket.scientist (#33844644) Attached to: Facebook Billionaire Gives Money To Legalize Marijuana
California already does defy federal law by allowing medical marijuana by prescription. Technically, all the producers and consumers could be busted on federal charges, state legal or no. But as a practical matter, the Feds rarely if ever prosecute "legal" users.

* IAN Your Lawyer. Do not take legal advice from strangers on the Internet.

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