Not only do you need to backup your client files, make sure you have a backup of tracked time.
Why you need a backup
Most timekeeping options are either web-based and in the cloud, or applications that run on your hard drive. If your cloud-based software goes down (even temporarily), that can be crushing. If your hard drive crashes and takes down your timekeeping application, good luck recreating your billable hours.
The great thing about e-mail and calendars is that you could fairly accurately recreate your time spent on a file. The not-so-great thing is that you would need to spend a lot of time in order to…well…track your time. In addition, you are guaranteed to miss a number of things.
My practice is heavy on contingent litigation. My statute of choice also has a fee-shifting provision, which means the other side is paying for me—so I need to know my on an almost daily basis. Losing access to my time, even for a day, could create some serious problems.
Manually export data to create a timekeeping backup
The easiest way to create a backup of your time entries using a cloud-based program is to manually export a .csv file and keep it stored somewhere safe. I do it once a week. In the unlikely event the cloud crashes, I would only need to recreate one week’s worth of time. That is much better than starting from scratch. Even better, exporting the .csv file takes less than three minutes. That is time well spent.
Freshbooks, Clio, and Rocket Matter are probably the most popular timekeeping solutions on Lawyerist (note: Clio and Rocket Matter do more than timekeeping). I use Clio in conjunction with Quickbooks. I use Clio’s export function once a week, so that in the event Clio loses everything or I temporarily cannot access my time, I have a hard backup.
Freshbooks has a similar function and it is as simple and easy as Clio’s export. I did some poking around on Rocket Matter’s site, but I cannot verify that Rocket Matter allows you to export data. Although, given that it is a strong competitor with Clio, I suspect it has a similar function.
Even if you use another timekeeping solution, spend a few minutes and figure out if it has an export or backup function. If your software does not, I would highly recommend switching. Attorneys are busy enough without having to survive catastrophic data failures. Spend your efforts tracking your time, not recreating it.