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How to avoid Cloud and data lock-out

Why you should check your contract

It’s one thing getting locked out of your office. It’s another when you don’t own the keys.

With all its advantages, there are problems inherent with cloud computing. The thing is, you’re paying for a service you don’t control. And if you don’t watch your contract, it is possible that you could, at some point, find yourself locked out of your data.

So before you jump into cloud computing head-first, it’s important to consider what would happen if the cloud went down. Would you suddenly have no way of getting customer details out of the system?

Similarly, you need to check whether you own the data you store on the cloud: some of the facilities take ownership of the information you put in.

And again, think: what happens if you want to leave your provider? Many cloud providers don’t offer an export facility

Cloud users should really know everything about their provider before they sign anything. Matthew Hampton of security firm Imerja explains: “Make sure you are sure what you’re getting yourself into. You should have the processes and procedures in place so that you can get whatever data you put into that system back out again. And you need to know what happens if it’s not there.”

Chris Coulter, partner at law firm Morrison & Foerster, believes that carrying out due diligence on your provider and checking the small print on your contract is key. After all, the contract may explicitly say you have to align with various rules.

But even if you’ve carried out all your research, understood your contract fully, and complied with all your provider’s rules, there’s still a chance of lock out. Coutler explains: “Assuming there’s nothing in the contract and your due diligence found the provider to be legitimate, if you get locked out then you’ve got a problem. And while you may have a legal remedy against these characters, if you’re located in the UK and they’re located in the Philippines or Russia, then you’re going to have a tough time chasing them up – even if you have a clear legal right.”

So, while data in the cloud is usually safe and secure, it’s a good idea to make provision for the worst case scenario: it’s advisable to make back ups. Whether you decide to go with cloud or not, you should back up your own data on a regular basis, and keep hard copies whenever possible.

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