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Small law office

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Last response: in Systems
November 30, 2010 12:54:33 PM

I work for a small law office (4 attorneys and three admins currently) and we don't have any type of networking or much of file backup.

I want to do a complete overhaul of our technology, to do the following:

file sharing
printer sharing
information backup
fax receipt/convert to pdf/send to general email
host website and email in house (currently hosted offsite with a peicemail IT guy), with sync between blackberry and outlook (need a BES i suppose)
and maybe use VOIP for an upgraded phone system

My computer experience:
not much in the way of networking. website design and coding. that is about it. in other words: this will be something completely new to me.

Concerns: security. we will house a lot of confidential files.
cost. I think it would be reasonable to spend between at least $1500.00. Can go up to 3 or 4K if absolutely necessary. Obviously, trying to do this as cheaply as possible without sacrificing performance and productivity.

needs: some sort of backup that can be done automatically and taken offsite to a secure location (probably safety deposit box at a local bank).

wants: a system that isn't going to run too hot. We have a fireproof (we are told) vault that has electricity already run to it, and we would have computer cables run as well, through sealed conduit to maintain as much fire protection as possible. My main concern is with the server running all weekend, and the vault sealed shut, is it going to run too hot? If putting it in the vault is not possible, then that would be good to know. I don't think that ventilation is a real possibility, other than opening the door.

Thank you all for your time.

More about : small law office

November 30, 2010 2:40:56 PM

where are you.?

Pennsylvania, United States.
November 30, 2010 3:14:26 PM

In terms of networking I can't help you much although it should all be fairly cheap: a switch for your PCs, network printer(I have a wireless although I don't reccomend it if you want quick foolproof printing).

As for security and backup: The only real safe thing is encrypted drives(external, usb, internal many things availbable here pick whichever you like) in terms of automatic back up you can either(not 100% ure on this) set up a server which backs up all the pc's on the network automatically or just let each pc have 2 identical drives in raid1.
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November 30, 2010 3:22:09 PM

another possiblity is :

there are these proggrams which allow you to split a pc with linux into multiple PCs. This means you can work with 4 people on a single PC(each with their own screen mouse and keyboard) and this removes any hassle with networking it's also a good deal cheaper because one doesn't have to buy all the parts for each PC independantly.
November 30, 2010 4:57:30 PM

I guess what I am really looking for is a list of what I would need to buy, and suggestions for specific products (from an online retailer perhaps!) and prices for the equipment. If I can bring specifics to the partners I may be able to get the office upgraded. I just don't know where to begin.
November 30, 2010 5:45:13 PM

First option - Contact GOOGLE They will hook you up in their cloud with all the services and security you need. Including daily back-ups and secure e files in there vault. I have no clue as to price but the phone call is probably free.

Second option - back up and file sharing is fairly easy. First, you will need a server. Any old computer with a network card will work. They normally don't have to be real fast, just have a 1 gigabyte network card/connector and lots of storage. But you can not lock it up in a vault with no air flow. It will need to be kept @~75*F. That option will only work if you can turn it off when you shut the door.
Here are a few websites that can explain it better PC Mech, We Got Served , Firing Squad, Just to name a few. You can Google how to build a server and find quite a few more. You're going to have to do your homework when you do it yourself. And keep it off the internet - Intranet will be fine but you don't want someone piggybacking into the server.
If you are running XP, Vista(yuck), or win 7 then you can use the file sharing incorporated into it. Running through your new server, of course. It will give you file sharing, printer sharing. Your individual units can have faxing capabilities using the correct software for their hardware setups. Most laptops come with a tele plug for this, and there is the Ethernet option/combo as well.
Are you looking for a hardware or software back up system? If you are going for the software option than Acronis is very reliable. Also ShadowProtect4 is pretty decent. If you are looking for a hardware solution then you will be looking for a raid configuration to duplicate your info on multiple drives. Or even just a 1 TB portable hard drive that you connect, it has it's own back up software that comes installed on it, (or use one of the others), and when you're done backing it up you can take that to the bank. But moving around a portable HDD and carrying it around there's always the possibility of accidental erasure or dropping it making it inoperable so you lose everything on it. Or - There are some internet options - companies that do online back-ups nightly and store the info securely for you.
As far as the Web page and service goes there are programs for building and maintaining those as well, but you need to have someone who has a clue about security and it will have to be maintained.

So, building the server, file sharing and even back up you can do for yourself and save considerable monies. And the VIOP I don't know anything about so I'll leave that up to someone else to help you.
If you want to build the server start a new thread for "Building an inexpensive server" and put a price tag on it and you will be surprised at how many suggestions you'll get. (I'll be looking for it in new build)
But the web page should be farmed out unless you have someone on your team to spend time to upkeep it and keep it from being hacked.