Whatcha Gonna Do With That Big Fat Butt (or hard drive)? (wigglewigglewiggle)

Scan everything!

It's easy now. You can stick an affidavit or a summons in a scanner with a barcode or twain-capture it real fast with the touch of a button its attached to the job it belongs to.

If your server quits or loses the documents, you don't have to go to your client and look bad or pay a bunch of $$$ at the courthouse, you could just reprint it. Some high volume clients want you to scan the file-stamped summons and complaint and have your software automatically FTP it over to them - or other fancy stuff that we're happy to set up for you.

For me, getting a customer set up for this involves the following steps:

1) We advise Amazon S3 (http://aws.amazon.com/s3/) for document archiving. Every 20 mins, your program sends a bunch of your freshly scanned documents to s3 and deletes them from your server - but retaining the pointer information to S3. Why would you want this?
    a: S3 handles all the redundancy and distributes them over a lot of machines. You don't have to back them up.
    b: Since the pointer information is retained, when your clients (or you) want to see those documents, they are fetched from Amazon's high speed servers and using their high speed bandwidth. It's very fast and it doesn't slow your web site down any.
    c: LoyalDog deletes the document from your server (or ours) after a successful upload to S3. This saves ALOT of space.
    d: Its cheap. Like 10 cents per gigabyte per month.

2) Customer says they'll handle it themselves and have their computer guy do the backups. Hey we're not trying to sell you anything, Amazon doesn't give us one red cent if you sign up with them!

3) First disaster or network saturation involving 50+gigabyte backup and restoring it changes customer's mind. Consider the points below:
    a: The external hard drive you think you're going to do your backups to really isn't that reliable.
    b: If you want to backup a whole lot of documents remotely, you will saturate your internet. If that backup is to another machine in your office, you will saturate your own network.
    c: RAID controllers fail too.
    d: It takes a LONG LONG time to restore a 50+gig database! Things can go wrong during that time too and you might have to start all over again a few times.

4) Customer finally takes our advice and moves to S3 storage for their documents.

Once you start scanning everything and dealing with photos and/or video, it is mind-blowing how fast your hard drives want to fill up! Make sure you have a good plan for how you will handle all that data and how you might handle a disaster.

Get a few opinions from other computer guys. As a general rule, Programmers Are Flakes. That means that the guy who knows how your stuff works and how to take care of it just might go off to Australia one day and pursue a career in cooking!

Make sure your people are committed to you and consider S3 for your document storage needs. LoyalDog transparently integrates with it and its easy to set up.

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