Q: Rose asks:
The accounting firm I work for converted to digital document management ten years ago. For the most part, things have been going well; however, with the advent of cloud computing and third party IT support, we’ve run into a situation that I need help resolving.
When a drawer goes corrupt there are only three resolutions – restore from backup, rebuild from paper documents, or a combination of both. The real problem for us comes when the paper is gone (because you converted it to a digital document, verified its integrity, digitally filed it, and shredded it), and the backup is corrupt.
When I was in charge of backup, I kept a backup from three points throughout the year. These backups were destroyed according to our records retention policy. Backup is no longer in our control.
What procedures do you have in place to ensure you can retrieve corrupt documents/drawers?
A: It sounds like you are facing a challenging situation where you no longer have access to the paper copies of documents and the digital backups are also corrupt. In order to address this issue, there are a few steps you can take:
- Review your records retention policy: It’s important to ensure that your records retention policy is up to date and takes into account the possibility of digital backups becoming corrupt. This may include provisions for keeping additional copies of important documents, whether in paper or digital form.
- Implement a robust backup strategy: It’s important to have a robust backup strategy in place to minimize the risk of data loss due to corruption. This may include using multiple backup methods (such as both on-premises and cloud-based backups) and keeping copies of backups at multiple locations.
- Consider implementing a disaster recovery plan: A disaster recovery plan can help you quickly and effectively recover from data loss due to corruption or other disasters. This may include procedures for recovering from backups, as well as procedures for recreating lost documents using alternative sources (such as client records or copies of documents held by other parties).
- Seek the assistance of IT professionals: If you are unable to recover corrupt documents on your own, it may be helpful to seek the assistance of IT professionals who have experience with data recovery. They may be able to help you recover your data using specialized tools and techniques.
Overall, it’s important to have a plan in place to minimize the risk of data loss due to corruption and to have a process in place for recovering lost data if it does occur. By following these steps, you can help ensure that your accounting firm is able to continue operating smoothly even in the face of unexpected challenges.