How Much Does Data Backup Cost for Law Firms?

Here’s a scenario for you. You’re a 50-attorney (100-person) law firm. Your sprinkler system malfunctions and soaks your server room. All of your servers go down in a spark and a fizzle. With your current backup solution, it takes one day to get your systems back up and running at full capacity.
 
In that time, you have lost:

  • The equivalent of 400 hours of billable time. Assume an average billing rate of $175/hour, and you’re down $70,000 as a baseline.
  • A day’s work for all 50 of your attorneys. Your attorneys will still collect their regular pay, despite being unproductive—unwillingly or otherwise—for an entire day of work.
  • The cost of restoration. Your servers will need to be rebuilt, and you’ll need to get your data onto them. This piece may or may not be covered by insurance.
  • The time it takes to recreate any lost data. Even if your backups functioned precisely as they should (which can be a big “if”), there will likely be a period of time leading up to the crash where changes or additions weren't captured.

It’s not a pretty scenario, but it’s one that is not outside of the realm of possibility by any means. In fact, this is precisely why law firms put so much emphasis on having the right data backup solution in place, and why we as a technology services firm are so eager to answer any questions that law firms may have regarding these solutions and what they may cost.
 
When it all comes down to it, what should your law firm expect to invest in data backup? We’ll walk through the factors that most closely influence costs, along with the average price range for data backup solutions within the context of industry-level protection.
 

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What main factors influence the cost of your data backup?

We discussed these two factors in another article, but they are precisely the elements will dictate what kind of backup solution your firm will need, and what you’ll invest to get it:

1. RPO (Recovery Point Objective). What, in quantifiable terms, is your tolerance for lost data? Would you be okay if you lost a day’s worth of work? Or would losing much more than 5 minutes’ worth be serious cause for concern?

2. RTO (Recovery Time Objective). What, in equally as quantifiable terms, is your tolerance for downtime? Are you comfortable being unable to work for a few hours? Or do you want a solution that will get you up and fully operational in twenty minutes?

Across the board, the lower your tolerance, the higher your investment will need to be.
 

What is the average price range for law firm data backup?

After all is said and done, your law firm can expect to pay, on average, between $200 and $500 per server per month for a comprehensive data backup solution (the major variant here being the amount of data on that servers).
 
For example, we provide a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery solution to a 53-attorney law firm in DC. This solution takes full images of each server at customizable increments, and has both on- and off-site virtualization capabilities within roughly ten to thirty minutes of the disaster. They are fully protected at all levels of disaster (from file loss to complete office destruction), and they invest over $1,500 per month to get there.
 

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There are, of course, far less expensive options out there, such as cloud-based backup solutions at the file (as opposed to server) level. These, however, should only be considered if your RTO is around the 3-day mark—it will take at least that amount of time to rebuild your lost server(s) and to transfer your data from your backups.
 
In the end, the most important question to ask yourself is what level of protection you’re looking to achieve with your data backup. From there, it’s a matter of finding a solution that will provide it—short-term costs aside.