At last! The anticipated Windows and Windows 365 tech episode with Adam Alexander, IT solutions guru and president of InterNetwork IT. Together, they answer all those questions you’ve messaged and tweeted in the past months.
We’re getting into the nitty gritty. Learn what’s available and find solutions to problems that seem unsolvable. Don’t settle for “good enough!”
- Adriana and Adam dive deep into all things Microsoft 365, OneDrive, and more.
- Make access to your data more organized, safer, and easier for your employees or coworkers to share.
- Plus, your questions about all things Microsoft. You asked, we answered.
In our series New Insights, veteran attorney Jennifer Smith Thomas answers questions from Birmingham, Alabama, new attorney Jennifer Townsend about the challenges of working with her father in a small, family-owned firm.
Question 3: “My Dad keeps saying ‘I’m a dinosaur, I don’t need to learn anything new.’ How do I convince him that he’s not too old or too settled to learn new skills that will improve the way we work together?”
Special thanks to our sponsors, Lawclerk, Alert Communications, Abby Connect, and Clio.
Adriana Linares: Before we get started with today’s episode, I want to make sure and thank our sponsors. Alert Communications, Lawclerk, Clio, and Abby Connect.
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Intro: So if I was starting today as a New Solo, I would do something – the entrepreneurial aspect would be – we’re going to have to change the way they’re practicing – by becoming a leader – analyzing one after another – to help young lawyers – starting a new small firm – what it means to be fulfilled – make it easy to work with your clients – bringing authenticity – new approach, new tools, new mindset, New Solo – and it’s making that leap.
Adriana Linares: Welcome to another episode of New Solo on Legal Talk Network. I am your host Adriana Linares. I’m pretty excited. I’ve been planning for this episode for a very long time. My guest is Adam Alexander. He’s an IT and Microsoft Office and services specialist. We have been gearing up for this episode by asking listeners to email, tweet or somehow communicate questions about Microsoft 365, and all the Microsoft services for months. So we’re finally ready to talk about it. And I’m, like I said, pretty excited to have Adam Alexander on today. Hi Adam.
Adam Alexander: Hey. How’s it going?
Adriana Linares: It’s great. Tell us a little bit about yourself before I tell everyone how you and I know each other.
Adam Alexander: Yeah. I’m Adam Alexander. I’ve just been doing IT for probably 20 or so years, started a company in 2011, doing small, medium-size business IT, and specializing in hosting solutions. We’ve been doing this for a long, long time with these solutions before they were even like really a thing. So I got lucky and preempted with what kind of was coming up. So, yeah, we’ve been on it, I think.
Adriana Linares: You have been on it. You and I have been working together for somewhere between eight and ten years. So I don’t do IT work. I do legal technology training and consulting. So when somebody wants to decommission a server or they got a virus, I can’t and I don’t help with that. Thankfully, thanks to a past client of mine, who said I have a great IT guy, you should connect with him, we connected. But right now, recording this podcast over Zoom with video is the first time you and I have ever even seen each other.
Adam Alexander: Yeah. It’s funny. I mean, I was thinking about it. I think it was yesterday, I was testing everything. I’m kind of paranoid about stuff like that, like today I was testing the microphone and all that kind of stuff and getting Zoom up, and I realized, like I’ve known her, like you said, probably eight to ten years and we’ve talked off and on for clients and email and all that kind of stuff, and I realized every time you’ve been to Orlando, we haven’t had a chance to meet. Then your way doing meetings again and all that kind of stuff, and we just like on the phone and we’ve never done a Zoom meeting.
Adriana Linares: Nope.
Adam Alexander: So this is really the first time that we’re actually seeing each other, which is pretty cool.
Adriana Linares: It is. It’s so nice to meet you and somewhat in-person.
Adam Alexander: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: So what happened is this attorney said to me, I’ve got this great IT guy. I’m like, oh, I need one. I need someone to recommend. So right then, whenever that was, I started referring you work that I didn’t want to do or I don’t want to do. You are so responsive and so great, whether it’s me texting you and saying, hey, I’ve got this attorney who’s like really jammed, when do you think you could help them; or it’s a soft intro by email, you have helped so many attorneys. Now you’re not dedicated just to legal, but you have a lot of legal clients, which I appreciate. So you’re familiar with Clio and NetDocs, Microsoft 365 and a lot of the services that law firms use. So I want to thank you so much for always being so responsive, reasonably priced. I’ve never had an attorney or a law firm call me back and say, that guy was overpriced. I’ve only gotten compliments about your service. How big is your team?
Adam Alexander: So now we are three people full-time as far as IT goes.
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Adam Alexander: Yet, it’s a steady growth. I always say that you’re one of my best sales people. So it’s great to know that, of course, everyone comes back and says — gives us praise and everything. So we’re happy to help and enjoy it. You mentioning that you’re so happy to have an IT person that you can rely on. We are so happy that — I mean everything I know about NetDocs, Clio, CosmoLex is from you, and being able to — and a similar thing is recommend you to our clients when they’re ready to move on to what I would say is a better solution.
Adriana Linares: Well, thank you. So we make a good team. I will say this, and to you it’s a thank you, but it’s something I want listeners to be aware of. You are one of the few IT people who pushes cloud services. I feel like a lot of IT people will not push Microsoft 365. Will do crazy things like try to put servers in the cloud, because they’re likely going to make more money themselves for their company that way. I very much appreciate how you will say to me sometimes, I’ve been trying to get them to go to Microsoft 365 forever. Not only is it just better for, but it’s more manageable for you.
Adam Alexander: Right. Simplicity is the name of the game, and what I tell our clients is, if it’s easier for you, it’s going to be easier for us. If you have a really complicated setup, you’re going to call us more and we’re going to have to dedicate more time to you, which creates less room for more clients. So that’s always been the name of the game, is just keep it simple stupid. So that’s kind of the motto. So that’s kind of how I came around to using way back in the day, when 365 was pretty new. I would see file servers that I will — Dropbox is a file server with whatever we do that, and people would look at me, like, no, we need a server. Like the client would tell me, no, we need a server. I’m like, I’ve actually — I might be tooting my own horn a little, but way back in the day, I’ve actually lost clients, because I tell them no. You’re hindering yourself by having a server, and they would kind of look at me and like, no, that’s not the right answer. I’m just kind of like, I mean what do you want me to say.
Adriana Linares: Okay. Sometimes it’s fun to fire a client, because they won’t listen. It’s just not worth the stress. I want to get back to Microsoft 365. Thank God for what was Office 365 and is now renamed as Microsoft 365. I say all the time, it is the greatest gift given to small businesses ever.
Adam Alexander: For sure, a hundred percent.
Adriana Linares: Good. I’m glad you agree. When you have Microsoft 365 and you have the $8 or $12 version, which is going to — what I’m talking about here are Microsoft 365 business packages. There’s a $6 package, which I never tell anybody to get, because it doesn’t allow you to actually download and install Word and Outlook on your computer. You would be using everything online. So that’s never going to work for lawyers and law firms. So then your next two services up is Microsoft 365 Apps for Business, which is $8 a month, no Exchange. If you want Microsoft Exchange, then you’re up at the $12.50. So I’m going to assume that unless you’re a true, true solo, and listeners if you’re a true, true solo, you might get away with the $8.25 a month. But if you’re one attorney and a secretary and you want to be able to share calendars and contacts and have the same domain name and stuff, you’re probably up at the $12.50 a month. So all of that lead up to say, when we are able to get rid of a server, you’re replacing the email service with Exchange from Microsoft 365 in the cloud, and you get storage, which is the other thing you’re using your server for with Microsoft 365. Okay.
Adam Alexander: Yeah. So the $12.50 a month plan includes email along with the software suite for Office, where the $8 something a month only does the software. So if you do need any kind of email, I would still say, go to the $12.50 a month package. If you’re just looking for the software, the $8 is going to be fine, and then you can expand to the higher package later. Yeah, it’s always good, if you’re going to be looking at email, the 365 package is great. It has extra security and everything else included with it.
Adriana Linares: I’m glad you mentioned that, because speaking of email and extra security, right now, I’m getting a lot of attorneys asking me about being able to encrypt their emails. For me, traditionally and historically, email encryption has been a little bit hard because one of the things attorneys never want to do is create any friction in communicating with their clients. Oftentimes, and I hear this from attorneys, those emails end up in spam. So it’s almost as if the emails are overly encrypted, which is not a real thing, but to where it’s being flagged as this isn’t a legit email, because it’s encrypted. Do you find that as well?
Adam Alexander: It is funny, because — so Office 365 for the email side does have a package that can be — it can be either an add-on package that includes encryption or you can buy a higher grade license that kind of is in the enterprise level that includes it. But it does — the way I explain to my clients is imagine if you’ve ever worked with a bank and they send you any kind of documentation, you’re going to get the email that you click on the attachment, it kind of looks like a fake email. It does. You click on the attachment and then it goes to a website and says login. That’s kind of how I explain it to my clients, because pretty much everyone has had to work with a bank at some point and has seen those emails.
The thing is really those banks is pretty much the same exact system. So you’re on the level — you can kind of think about it this way. You’re on the level of what the banks use when you’re using like the Office 365 encryption, because they’re using the same systems. They’re using 365 or Exchange servers on their end. So you’re kind of on that level of being a bank as far as security with encrypted emails.
Adriana Linares: The example that I always use is have you refined on your mortgage lately. You don’t do anything with mortgage companies that isn’t encrypted or through a portal. So, okay. The last thing I want to mention about that is what you said, which is Microsoft does have an add-on service for providing you with that encrypted email service. So I don’t want to spend too much time on it. I just want listeners to know, you can talk to your IT person. And I should have said this, you are based in Central Florida, but you service clients all over the place. I’ve even sent your clients from San Diego and Iowa, and you’re super helpful. So, okay. One more thing. I want you to talk about, because if you had the account, which I don’t think I can, how many law firms have I sent you who started with either Gmail or Google Workspace, and you had to convert them to Exchange and Microsoft 365? A lot.
Adam Alexander: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, that’s the primary location that they’re coming from for the most part.
Adriana Linares: What I typically tell them, and I just want you to confirm or deny, it’s easy for you to do, because you’ve got the migration services and packages that Microsoft gives you to pull out of Gmail and bring it all in. It’s not $10,000 project to do something like that. Correct?
Adam Alexander: No.
Adriana Linares: And you do it pretty quick, I think.
Adam Alexander: Yeah. As long as the information is there, as long as we have the logins for what we need, we can usually do it the same week, that same weekend coming up.
Adriana Linares: Typically, people want to do this, because they started with Gmail or they started with Google Workspace, which is the equivalent of Microsoft 365 from a Google world, and then they realize they’re paying for two services, which I don’t necessarily undo that every time I get a firm that’s got Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, because if you’ve been used to it and you’re using Gmail and Google for email, but you’re still — it can kind of work. But at the same time, keep it simple stupid. So if you’re looking to streamline, you’re going to want to move your Gmail email over to Exchange and Office 365. I want everyone to hear out loud. You don’t lose your emails. You don’t lose your contacts. You don’t lose your notes and you don’t use lose your appointments. You’re able to move everything.
Adam Alexander: Yeah, and that’s why it’s important to have a good qualified IT company, do it, because yeah, you can go start a 365 account and have email. But getting the old email, and not just the email, because we’re talking about Gmail itself. If you’re using Outlook, your contacts and calendar is a kind of everywhere. So it gets a little muddy how the transition works, but there are ways to do every single possible outcome. So that’s why it’s good to have some who has kind of seen it all and done it a million times.
Adriana Linares: And done it, which is what I appreciate about you.
Adam Alexander: Has the process down, yeah.
Adriana Linares: Yeah. That made me think of something, which is, and on top of the fact that you’re moving for your email service provider, you’re probably affecting your domain where your website is, which is really another reason you want somebody who knows what they’re doing to help you with this transition, because you also don’t want to bring down your website and keep you off from working. I’m going to ask you one, last question just before we take a break, because it’s about that time, and that’s the difference between a personal Microsoft 365 account and a business or work account. Can you just quickly explain the difference between the two? And I’ll say this, it’s okay to have both. You and I both agree that if you are a business person, you should have the business side for your business. But what’s the difference between the two?
Adam Alexander: So the personal account is usually going to be — a lot of people start with the personal account, because they just think, okay, I’m a small law firm. Let’s say, like your example, I’m using Gmail. I just need some Office software installed on a couple computers. So they go, they join the personal account. Maybe start using a OneDrive that’s included with it. But that’s kind of where it stops. So, let’s say, now you’ve got five people and they all want to use OneDrive. Well, now you can’t separate them and add — well, here’s a financial stuff that I don’t want the receptionist to see, all that’s kind of out the window. Everyone has the same files all the time forever. So the business account you’re getting into a per user set up to where the receptionist can have just the shared files for the company in her OneDrive, where the owner can have financials and business, critical information that’s separate from everyone else. So usually what I’d say is, if you haven’t started the process yet, start with a business license, because you don’t have to do this kind of thing in the background where you start a business account, but you still have this personal account that’s running your software.
If you start the business account, you can do the software and add email later, add services later, and not have to do this whole dance with the personal and business accounts and logins.
Adriana Linares: Migrating and stuff.
Adam Alexander: Yeah. Like we had mentioned too, as a business owner, it might benefit you to keep the personal account just for OneDrive and keep your personal and your critical information on the personal one, just to be sure absolutely that no one else can see it.
Adriana Linares: That’s what I do. So listeners, if your Microsoft 365 users, look in your system tray, which is a little area in Windows, and I don’t think they’re a different color on the Mac. I think they’re the same color. But if you’re a Windows user, look down in the system tray where the time and the date is, if your cloud for Microsoft OneDrive is gray, that is a personal Microsoft 365 account. If it’s blue, it’s a business Office 365 account. Now, I have both. So I’ve got two little clouds. I actually have three clouds, because I also have a Microsoft 365 account for San Diego. So I actually have three different Microsoft accounts logged onto my one computer and on my Mac. This is not different. Cool, little nerdy tips for you Adam, I just learned that you can have only one personal Microsoft 365 account. But up to nine business ones on the same computer. Did you know that?
Adam Alexander: I didn’t. That’s actually really interesting.
Adriana Linares: Isn’t it?
Adam Alexander: Especially, like you’re saying, you have all these different organizations you work with, so you’ve got to keep them separate. That’s perfect.
Adriana Linares: I do. So that means I have Outlook that has a mailbox for LawTech Partners, Adriana, and it has a mailbox for Adriana at San Diego. They’re separate. Back to the personal versus business OneDrive. I keep all of Adriana Linares’ files, mortgages, medical files, tax returns, all that in my personal. Everything related to LawTech Partners and my professional life that pays me is over in my business OneDrive account. I do that one for my mental sanity to not have folders next to each other where I might accidentally drop files from a client into my tax folder, but also for security purposes. So if I do get hacked, maybe only half my world gets hacked, not my whole world. Okay, well, so far so good. Let’s take a quick break. Listen to some messages from some sponsors, and I’m going to be right back with Adam Alexander.
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Adriana Linares: Okay, and we’re back. I’m talking to Adam Alexander, my favorite IT guy on the planet. Adam, we just finished talking about kind of a general overview of Microsoft 365, why you want the services. We talked about OneDrive. I’m going to remind my listeners that when you have a business 365 account, you also get SharePoint. I did a whole episode just sort of talking about the difference between OneDrive and SharePoint. So you should go back and listen to that. SharePoint is not my favorite place for law firms to manage their files, because you really need, I think, a SharePoint administrator. Adam, what’s your experience in trying to implement SharePoint at small businesses that might not have a dedicated IT person? I know you’re a big fan of Box, but they’re also along the same lines as OneDrive. So what do you typically say when someone says, should we use SharePoint for managing our files?
Adam Alexander: The main potential issue is, are you moving, let’s say, a file server to SharePoint. If you’re a kind of just starting out, maybe you’re a smaller firm. You don’t have a boatload of 15 years of historical data and all that kind of stuff. At that point, yeah, SharePoint with OneDrive will work for you. The main thing is if you’ve got a server with — I mean, it sounds like a lot, but it’s pretty common. You’ve got a server with 300,000 files on it in your shared drive, that’s not going to work for SharePoint, because SharePoint does have limitations. So in those instances, I would say look at something like Box, something that’s a dedicated, essentially, a dedicated hosted file server, and that’s what they do and they don’t do anything else. But otherwise, SharePoint OneDrive would be just fine.
Adriana Linares: Last week, I was doing some research for San Diego, because we do you SharePoint at the bar association and people were emailing me that they couldn’t get some files to synchronize our work right, and they were getting a limitation on the file length. I had to explain, and actually I went and looked up just to make sure I had it right. But just real quick, this is directly from Microsoft’s site. There is a limit of 50,000 items that can be shared in any one folder, not all of SharePoint, but you start creating folders. So there’s a 50,000 item limit. Believe me, law firms hit that, and especially if they’re bringing over files that they should not still have 10 years after the case is closed. But, as I always say, lawyers like to keep a haystack in case they ever need a needle.
Adam Alexander: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: Then the other thing that can be hard about a service like SharePoint — and OneDrive online you’ll run into this limitation as well, and actually Windows, you’ll run into this limitation. That is the file path. So what you and I think of as a name of a file draft agenda, to the computer, the name of the file is actually C:Users:Adriana/ —
Adam Alexander: Every single letter, everything.
Adriana Linares: Yeah. Every letter counts. So the file path is the length and there are limitations with that too. So when you start embedding folders inside folders inside folders in SharePoint, you hit that limit faster. So like I said, I don’t want to spend too much time on that, but I want everyone to know. SharePoint can be good. You know how I feel about NetDocuments. If you’re a busy law firm and your more than — even, if you’re a solo, I think the gold standard, the Cadillac of document and email management is going to be NetDocuments. But we can always make Microsoft 365 work.
Okay. Now, let’s switch gears just a little bit, and these can be kind of quick hit answers. Adam, I’m a solo practitioner. I work either on my laptop or I work only on my laptop and a desktop. So maybe I have one or two computers. Do I need a VPN?
Adam Alexander: Yes. So going to that a little bit, with a laptop — if you’re on a desktop in your office, no. VPN, it won’t serve any kind of purpose except to slow you down. Laptop, yes, because if you’re working at Starbucks, now you’re on an open network that everyone is on. The thing is with the VPN, you can do a paid service, like we’ve all seen, like, NordVPN, those things; or, if you have a business router and some that can set it up for you, you can do an encrypted VPN back to your work network for free, and it does the same purpose as far as doing a secured connection that no one can touch as far as like someone sitting, drinking coffee in Starbucks.
Adriana Linares: So let me describe what a VPN is, just real quick in case someone doesn’t know. It stands for Virtual Private Network. We don’t care what it stands for. What you care for is what it does, which is it will create — its software. It can be hardware too, but it’s often software, which creates a dedicated tunnel that is a secure communication channel between your computer and wherever you’re sending data out into the world. Is that correct?
Adam Alexander: Right. That includes just surfing the web. It’s literally everything that you’re doing on the computer that is network, internet, anything. So you don’t want to go to your bank account at Starbucks on their public Wi-Fi. Make sure you’re on a secure VPN, try to not go to your bank account when you’re at Starbucks anyway. But yeah, if you’re doing secure things like that, make sure you have VPN. That’s where it’s key to have it.
Adriana Linares: Do I need to pay extra for a VPN or is the VPN, the firewall that is on my Windows machine and my Mac?
Adam Alexander: You only need to pay for VPN if you don’t have a business router back at the office that you can connect to. That’d be the only time. Otherwise, you could have your IT person set up a VPN connection on your network at the office to use for free.
Adriana Linares: So I have a lot of attorneys that don’t have offices anymore and they gave them up during the pandemic and they’re working from home. So what’s the answer there?
Adam Alexander: Then, yeah, look into a paid one, something like NordVPN or any of those kinds of — the ones you see marketed a lot, a big one is Nord though.
Adriana Linares: N-O-R-D VPN.
Adam Alexander: Yes.
Adriana Linares: Do you have any idea what that costs a year? Is it $100 a year or $1,000 a year?
Adam Alexander: No. I don’t know off the top of my head, but it is more towards $100, $50 a year, or something like that.
Adriana Linares: What about, do I need more antivirus protection than what I get with Windows Defender, which is the built-in service from Windows for anti-malware anti-spyware, antivirus, and same question for a Mac, because Macs, as we know, hahaha, Adam and I are going to have a good laugh about this, air quotes don’t get viruses.
Adam Alexander: Right. I have evidence contrary to that statement, hours of evidence.
Adriana Linares: Listeners, Adam and I are rolling your eyes right now, because not only do Macs get viruses on occasion, but when they do, they are way meaner and harder to exercise than any virus on a Windows machine.
Adam Alexander: Right. Actually, you know the funny thing about that is, is because they don’t have antivirus. So you have to manually go in and remove the virus instead of having an antivirus program that removes it for you. So the irony of the whole —
Adriana Linares: So it’s almost like you need it more with a Mac, because it’s not built into the operating system, while Windows has something, at least one layer, built into the operating system. So I’ll tell you what I say to most attorneys, Adam, and you can tell me with your much more technical experience. When I get maybe someone who’s just bought a new laptop or they’re a new solo and they’re practicing at home and they say, do I need to get McAfee. I’ll say well you can never have too much security. So the answer is if you feel better getting it, please get. It’s not going to do any harm. But, two, if you are a careful user and you’re not gambling or visiting the dark web, you are probably going to be okay with Windows, with Windows Defender, but again, you can never have too much. So what do you say when people ask you, if I need an extra layer of antivirus?
Adam Alexander: I always say, like you’re saying, it’s always better to have more, but you can actually have too much. Windows Defender is kind of a weird exception, because it comes with Windows. It works with other viruses. But you can’t do like McAfee and Norton and all these other ones, because —
Adriana Linares: ESET.
Adam Alexander: ESET, because it’s almost like they start scanning each other and your computer will almost just like crawl, it’s comes to just a complete crawl, and you’re wondering why. Well, it’s because you have all these anti-viruses that are caught up in each other and they don’t know what to do. So Windows Defender is great. Like you’re mentioning, if you can control what you’re clicking on, you’re totally safe. Otherwise, if you just want the peace and security then yeah, I’d say, pick one that works for you and go with that one.
Adriana Linares: I think too maybe how and what you practice is a factor. If you have a very transactional practice where you’re getting a lot of documents from outside clients, like their financial documents, their emails. We know that the average user is going to be even less sophisticated at controlling their files than a business person would. So I think that’s another consideration to take in is what kind of practice do you have. Does anyone else ever use your computer? So okay, but I like your tip a lot about not having too much, and I have certainly seen that where someone has Malwarebytes and ESET, and we can’t figure out why the pop up to see the image of their check won’t come up.
Okay, that makes me think of something real quick. Obviously, there are still a lot of firms that have servers. I often try to explain that the biggest security risk and liability that they have is a physical server, an on-prem server we say that, right? It’s on premises, so it’s sitting there. Can you explain why that is?
Adam Alexander: Especially when it comes to email, okay. So now all of your email for your company relies on your internet connection, so you should probably at least have a minimum of two internet connections coming in for backup.
Adriana Linares: If you’re going to have an on-prem server with email running it.
Adam Alexander: Yeah, like an on-prem, like an Exchange server. Now, all of your email is tied to your internet connection and the power in your building, plus it’s tied to your server actually working. So if you have — now you’re talking about, now we need server backups that can immediately run my server that just died, because we can’t be down. We’re adding costs for internet. We are adding costs for backups. We’re adding costs for having a server, plus your managed service IT provider is going to charge you usually two to three times per month for a server what a desktop will cost. So now you’re looking at probably $250 to $350 dollars a month just to have a server, where all that cost can go away, all of the liability on you goes away just by using something like 365. So that’s one thing. I will gladly lose $250 a month, plus the cost of the backup to not have to deal with a server and the liability and the potential of a client calling us saying, hey, all of our stuff is down now, what are we going to do about it. That’s where it gets into what’s easier for you is probably even ten times easier for us. We’re not going to get some 6:00 in the morning call that the file server is down or the Exchange server. So that’s kind of where my head’s at with it.
Adriana Linares: I really want to hug you for that. Then can you just explain too that ransomware loves looking for physical connections to computers and servers and that’s another major risk that you can have with servers, yes, and your desktops too, but let’s just start with something like a server where most of your files are kept?
Adam Alexander: For sure, exactly, that’s another liability issue. So, let’s say, you open an email, you click on the link. It looks like a FedEx email or whatever, you click on the link. You kind of go through the process. It’s kind of download ransomware in the background. You’re not going to know it, and as is doing that, it encrypts everything it can touch on your actual desktop computer or laptop. Then it’s going to search for network drives, so your map drives. The ones that are like S drive and Z drive and all of those, right.
So it’s going to start searching for those, and as soon as it finds one, it’s going to encrypt everything it can touch on that drive, which is going to be essentially encrypting your entire server. It could be — if you’re using something like PCLaw, let’s say, and PCLaw is usually drive P. It’s going to say, hey, drive P, I don’t care what you are. I’m just going to encrypt whatever file I can touch. So now all of your PCLaw or whatever software you’re using is now encrypted. So after it finally finishes all of that and says, okay, there’s nothing else that I can find, then it pops up to Windows saying, okay, you’ve got 72 hours to pay us, et cetera. So that’s another good reason to not have anything on site. If you’re using Clio, there’s no Clio on-site to encrypt. It can’t touch a website. It can’t get to that external access.
Adriana Linares: It can’t jump. What I always say is, ransomware can’t jump from your hard drive into a cloud based service that is storing your files for you. Is that accurate?
Adam Alexander: Yeah, for sure. So it can only touch “physical” files, right.
Adriana Linares: Digitally physical.
Adam Alexander: Yeah, digitally physical files that are on your hard drive. That’s the only thing that it can find and that it can actually change. So then you’re then you’re talking about downtime. Hopefully, you have a backup. If you don’t have a backup, then you’re really in trouble. But even if you do have a backup, how many hours is that going to take to restore. Delete all the encryption, restore down —
Adriana Linares: You’re talking hours and a lot of time, and if you’ve been listening to this podcast for a long time, you have heard me say, when your IT person says, don’t worry, we have a backup. You need to take two hours out of your day. You need to go sit with them, and you need to say to them, show me how we recover files, and you don’t want to do that when there’s a problem. You want to test your backups ahead of time. So you can reduce that stress, that potential risk by just not needing backups, which I think is a whole another conversation. You’re probably going to have to come back on a regular, so we can cover all of our topics. But I’ve got a few more questions for you, Adam. So let’s take a quick break. Listen to some messages from sponsors and we’ll be right back.
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And here we go with question number three in this series of New Insights. Jennifer Townsend has a question for Jennifer Thomas.
Jennifer Townsend: My dad keep saying, I’m a dinosaur. I don’t need to learn anything new. How do I convince him that he’s not too old or too subtle to learn new skills that will improve the way we work together?
Jennifer Thomas: My dad says this too. He seems to think his head is so full of things that if he learned something new, he’ll lose something else. I have to remind him that old dogs can learn new tricks, and I have to be deferential to his level of comfort and to his experience. We have such an opportunity and really the luxury of like Westlaw and LexisNexis, and be able to look up a case or Google it super fast when he was plowing through, I don’t want to say first reporters, because he’ll kill me but maybe second, and he had so much in his brain. All those people, all those cases, all those depositions, all those exhibits that weren’t computerized, they were in boxes that were in semi trucks. So there’s a lot of information in there. I understand his fear to lose any of it, because it’s worked for him. So I think you have to be really realistic about what you expect him to learn. For example, hashtags, not going to happen for my dad ever. He also calls them pounds like instead of hashtags, and he calls LinkedIn, linked-it-in, bless his heart. But teaching him, how to sort through his Outlook email box by client or by case name has saved him a lot of time where he might have before just tried to scroll down.
So it’s about optimizing his experience, optimizing his time, optimizing time means you value his time. Again, be patient with your elders. When we started Zoom depositions a couple years ago, I had to sit through a number of depositions with my dad to help him share screens so that he could share exhibits, because the double monitors and the screens and it was just, it was a lot and. He’s incredible litigator, but try to figure out how to share a screen was just a little bit too much for him at the time. He’s got it now. But be patient and when you can no longer be patient, I would say just do it for him.
Adriana Linares: All right, we’re back. This is my last chance with Adam, asking him a couple more questions about technical. This is a nice technical episode, but I appreciate it. I did have one of my favorite attorneys who’s actually been a guest on New Solo, but I won’t out him during this question. Just a quick question that I want to make sure I answer for him, which is he and his assistant are using OneDrive, not SharePoint, Adam and I applaud you for that. DB, you know who you are. So you wrote, your assistant and you use OneDrive, not SharePoint, and it seems to be working extremely well. Great, don’t change it. It’s simple. We have one primary folder called such and such law. Then we have two folders, one for operations and then one for clients, which has all our client files. He’s the owner of the law folder, but his assistant does have permission to it. So he had to grant her permissions to that folder, because it was in his OneDrive.
And remember, go back and listen to our previous episode about how you share stuff out of OneDrive. We don’t have anything else, anywhere else. She has access to everything that she should have access to. I get your analogy about the filing cabinet in the hallway as opposed to a filing cabinet in your office. But the way we’re doing seems to work. Are we missing something? Is our system going to blow up in our face down the road? No, I think you’re in really good shape.
Adam Alexander: Yeah. So, in this example, they’re using two personal OneDrive accounts. Is that what’s going on?
Adriana Linares: Well, his is the main. He has created three folders in it. One called Law, one called Operations, one called Clients. He has shared Clients and Law with her, because she doesn’t need to see anything that’s in Operations, and that’s a fine way to do it.
Adam Alexander: Yeah, that’s perfect. So I guess I was wondering if it’s a personal account, because — if it’s two personal accounts to do that or a business account.
Adriana Linares: No. They’re both Microsoft 365 for business.
Adam Alexander: Got you.
Adriana Linares: And that is a quick difference I want to make. We have discussed personal Microsoft 365 accounts versus business 365 accounts. What can get confusing is inside of business 365, each person does get their own personal OneDrive, but consider it personal for work, meaning this is where I put my drafts. I’m the legal assistant. This is where I put mailing labels. This is where I put forms. This is where I put a check request, because he’s never going to need it or she’s never going to need it. So you do have a personal OneDrive inside of your Microsoft for Business 365 account. Each person gets their own OneDrive, a terabyte of space. Then you also get SharePoint that the whole firm shares an allotted amount of storage. So it can definitely be confusing.
Adam Alexander: Right. In this case too, when the topic first came up, maybe I misheard and I thought you mentioned that he had a personal account. The reason why I was saying that is because in a personal account, he would not be able to go into the folders and share them. So they would essentially see all the same folders all the time, no matter what. So that’s a huge benefit of doing the Business Office 365 account, is he can pick and choose what she sees on top of her personal OneDrive where she stores what she wants. So that’s a huge benefit.
Adriana Linares: Back to your original piece of advice, which is always start with business even if you’re a solo, just get the business version.
Adam Alexander: You never know where they’re going to hire somebody.
Adriana Linares: And they always do. They start to get busy and then they’re like, I got to hire someone. What do I do? Then it’s a migration process of getting personal Microsoft 365, that’s business and moving it. So just do the right thing from the start. Follow a question, which we can answer very quickly, but I do feel like this is a good question, because a lot of people ask me this. When you put OneDrive on your computer and you go to look at file explorer, there’s a column that says status, and in that status column, you will either have a hollow green checkmark, a solid green checkmark, or a little cloud. And the question is, what is the difference between those status icons.
Adam Alexander: One is downloaded, one is in the cloud. So, what’s the hollow?
Adriana Linares: The hollow one is where you recently used it and it’s keeping it on there I think temporarily, and eventually, it turns it back into the cloud and pushes it out.
Adam Alexander: Okay.
Adriana Linares: When it’s the cloud, that means that file or that folder is stored only on the cloud in OneDrive. It is not on your personal hard drive, but of course, the beauty in OneDrive, Box, which I know you like a lot of Adam, and Dropbox is they now have what they call or at least Dropbox does, so I’ll use their term globally, Selective Sync, which is I might have 100 folders. I don’t need all 100 folders on my hard drive. One, maybe my hard drive isn’t big enough, but two, remember when you have files locally, you are increasing your risk by keeping it on your hard drive. So the more stuff you’re able to keep in the cloud, the better. So the little blue cloud means online-only. These files don’t take up space on your device. They download as you use them. Then there’s the hollow checkmark, which is it’s on this device. When you open a file it downloads to your device, so you can edit it in case your internet goes down, so you’ve got it locally, or maybe you’re on an airplane. Then once you close the file, it puts it back only in the cloud. So the hollow green checkmark is kind of like a middle state. It’s here now, but it’s probably going to go back.
Adam Alexander: That’s kind of like the check-in checkout sort of process, okay.
Adriana Linares: Then when it’s green, it’s always available. That means you right-click on a folder or a file and you say, make it always available, which means it’s always on my hard drive. So I keep my LawTech Partners files always on my hard drive in case the internet goes down, but I don’t keep tax files, mortgage docs. I don’t need those as often. So anyway, that’s the difference between those three little icons.
Adam Alexander: And all of that, and any kind of business account, it doesn’t matter which one of these sync seek programs you use, they can be administered to where you can prevent people from saving offline. As, let’s say, the company owner that could be important, because if you have to let somebody go, all the stuff is in the cloud, and they don’t have access to anything. As soon as you change your password, they don’t have access. So if they can download the files into their computer, even if you let them go and lock them out of their account, it’s on their computer. So it’s just another level of security. The downside is, like Adriana mentioned, is if it’s only in the cloud, you’re essentially downloading and uploading document every time you open it. So that would be the downside of it.
Adriana Linares: And you’re beholding to the internet at that point, because if your internet blips or goes out, which honestly, thankfully, most of us probably rarely lose our internet connection anymore. But of course, it happens at the worst time. The last thing I want to ask you about, you just gave me the perfect segue, because I just learned about this, and that is a service, a new service from Microsoft. Okay, everybody clear your brain right now, because I’m just about to confuse it even more. We had Office 365, which, when it first started, was really just giving you the Office apps, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, maybe you got Publisher with it, and Exchange, and then they turned it into Microsoft 365, which is this wonderful suite of products that gives you Teams and Sway and Bookings, and all kinds of good stuff. So there’s Microsoft 365, which is a suite of software services. I just heard on Windows Central, Adam, about Windows 365. I was like, oh my God, this could be amazing for some law firms, and wish we had it when the pandemic started. Can you describe? I know it’s kind of new, so I don’t expect you to be a full-blown expert on this, but can you describe what Windows 365 is?
Adam Alexander: It’s actually, the concept has been around for a while, and this is Microsoft’s version of it, where you essentially have a hosted desktop on Microsoft servers. So you don’t have to use your laptop, your desktop to access your software. A lot of us have used remote servers, like let’s say, even in the past. You’re working remotely, your company has a server in the office and you remote into the server. It’s the same thing but it’s desktops and everyone has their own remote desktop that they log into and it’s set up for that individual. So it’s what I think is a very specific use case. So let’s say you are a hiring people and as kind of practice is now, people work remotely and you can hire anyone anywhere in the nation.
So, let’s say, you’re in Orlando, you want to hire someone in California. You can just have them use their personal laptop and remote into their Windows 365 virtual desktop that’s in the Microsoft data centers. The benefits of that is there’s no connection between their personal laptop that their kids use and the remote desktop that they’re using. So it’s still secure. It’s still safe. If they get a virus on their laptop, the actual work data is still safe. You don’t have to worry about them downloading, like we’ve talked about this whole episode, OneDrive and things like that, that doesn’t have to go into their personal laptop or their email for that matter.
It just keeps everything separate. What’s been common practice before or now and even now is a lot of these companies that hire remote workers, they buy a laptop. They send them a secured business laptop with a monitor and keyboard and mouse. That’s pretty common practice actually. In this case, you wouldn’t have to upfront that expense. You just start up Windows 365 virtual desktop, say, here’s your login for it, and they go right to it, right away.
Adriana Linares: So it’s literally Windows, okay everybody, think of windows in a subscription way out there in the cloud, and then you would layer your Microsoft 365 account right on top of it. So you would log into this Windows machine that’s desktop, and there are profiles like you would go to Chrome and then go to office.com and log into this Windows 365 machine and it would have its own version of Excel and Word and Outlook completely separate and apart from your hard drive. So this is complicated, I know, but I wanted to mention it because I just think it sounds so great for some of these law firms that do have remote workers. It’s a little expensive. the cost of a laptop, if you’re going to buy a really high-end laptop is probably $1,200. We know that’s what a Mac will cost. This service apart from the $12 that we’ve been talking about for Microsoft 365. I think it’s $40.00 a month.
Adam Alexander: Yes, right around there, 40 or 45 for the entry-level Windows virtual desktop. They also — that’s another thing too is that’s like the entry-level specs. So then they have upgraded virtual desktops for the people who are going to have 32 chrome tabs open and 45 Adobe documents open at the same time. So you’re going to want a higher end desktop for that, which would cause a little bit more per month, maybe $65 dollars per month for like a higher end one. So that’s kind of good too, because you can kind of purchase the desktop use case. It’s not just everyone gets $65.00 and that’s it. You can kind of take it to the person in their role and go from there too.
Adriana Linares: The basic starts at $31 a month.
Adam Alexander: Okay.
Adriana Linares: You get two V CPU, virtual CPUs. Okay, so you get two Virtual CPUs, four gigabytes of RAM and 128 gigabyte storage. That’s probably —
Adam Alexander: So you can imagine, 4 gigabytes of memory is like you’ve open two tabs in Chrome and you’ve got Outlook open and you’re done.
Adriana Linares: Oh, by the way, like every lawyer legal assistant on the planet, 18 Word documents open and 42 emails open. This is not going to do it. So now we’re at the $40 a month, which is probably why you and I both thought, you get the two CPUs, which is fine, 8 gigs of RAM, which to me is still not awesome, but it’s better than four, same amount of storage. Then even at $66.00 a month, you’re getting only 16 RAMs, because I’m a 32 RAM or don’t even look at me user. But for most law firms, I think the $41.00 would probably be fine.
Adam Alexander: Yeah, I think so. I mean virtualization and that technology is a whole can of worms conversation that can take up a whole talk. Yes. It’s really difficult to wrap your head around how it works. So 8 gigabytes on a virtual computer is kind of like more than 8 gigabytes on an actual laptop in front of you. It’s kind of hard to explain but basically you’re not — the 8 gigabytes isn’t dedicated to also running your hardware if that kind of makes sense in a way.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, I hadn’t thought about that. If I’ve got 8 gigs on my laptop right here, it’s also running not just my software but literally the hard drive. It’s helping me access file, and you’re right when it’s virtual, it’s different. So I think 41 would do it.
Adam Alexander: If you’ve got a law firm, let’s say, you’ve got a law firm with 10 people and they’re all local in your office. You’re better off just buying them laptops, right. It’s a one-time upfront fee. Also going into using host of solutions, using Clio, NetDocs, Office 365, OneDrive. Most law firms have three hosted programs. They have a hosted file solution, like OneDrive. They’ve got Office 365 for email, and Office 365 also for the software. It’s all one package, right? Then one, hopefully, they have one hosted case management software, which is just a website.
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Adam Alexander: So setting up a new computer these days is so easy. 30 minutes, your new user is set up and they’re ready. The old days where you’ve got servers. You got all these things. Yeah, it might take an hour and a half to set up a new user and now it’s like this whole process, yada, yada, and yada. But now spend $100.00 on a really good Windows laptop, 30 minutes, they’re up and running. There’s no real super benefit to having that Windows 365. But if you’ve got remote users around the nation, it makes a lot of sense at that point.
Adriana Linares: So I’m going to put a challenge out there if there’s a listener who hears this and thinks this sounds interesting. Your the use case. You are an attorney in San Diego. You want to work with an assistant in San Francisco, and this sounds like a good idea, call Adam.
Adam Alexander: Yeah, let’s do it.
Adriana Linares: Then let’s do an episode on it, and how it went and have them tell us how it worked out, and then you can tell us how it was setting it up and all that. I think that would be awesome. So if there’s anyone out there that’s interested, please contact Adam, which puts me in a great place to say, thank you, Adam, so much for coming on, and I think this is a longer episode than most of mine are, but I’ve appreciated the conversation. So make sure to tell everyone how they can get a hold of you.
Adam Alexander: Oh, for sure, yeah. This has been super fun. My email address is [email protected] also reach me by phone at 321-300-6383, extension 101. And we’ll definitely be happy to hear from anyone and everyone and just keep helping people out.
Adriana Linares: Adam, can you tell us a little bit about your pricing structure if one of our listeners want to reach out and work with you?
Adam Alexander: It’s 175 an hour for project work. The perfect example of a project are the email migrations that you send us for Office 365 that we do all the time for you all. We are so happy to help out there. For the day-to-day ongoing IT services, it is per computer. So as much as I hate being the person that says, call us for a quote that we don’t just give out pricing. It’s not about not giving our pricing. It’s just that we need to know how many computers you have, how many servers, things like that. But it is very quick to get out pricing to anyone that interested. So please feel free to call us, email, and we’ll get right back to you and you know, we’re more than happy to help.
Adriana Linares: Then the other thing I’m going to ask you is, will you come back.
Adam Alexander: Oh, for sure. This is awesome.
Adriana Linares: So let’s put this out there again. If this conversation has sparked more conversations about the technical side of running your law firm, and I think Adam, you and I are both probably little more techy than just having to stick to Microsoft. So if you have other questions about I’m doing this and I’m not sure or where do I get this or that, and it’s a little more on the technical side, send me a tweet. My Twitter handle is my first name on my last initial, @adrianal, or you can send an email to [email protected]. I get all of those. One last question and this one’s for you listeners, because Adam and I do not have an answer. Someone wrote in and asked, are there any SharePoint add-ins that make email filing easy? So if you’re a user who is using SharePoint at your firm and figured out a way to quickly file emails from Outlook, I’m assuming into a relevant SharePoint space or folder, please send me a note at [email protected].
Thank you so much, Adam, for your time. It’s been great. Thank you always for being such a great IT referral for me and for clients. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you.
Adam Alexander: And same say for you. I mean, it’s always good to have resources like you. I mean, it’s so critical to everything we do.
Adriana Linares: Yeah. It takes a vineyard.
Adam Alexander: It does.
Adriana Linares: It real does.
Adam Alexander: All sorts of grapes of all shapes and sizes.
Adriana Linares: All right everyone, thanks for listening. I hope you found this somewhat long but helpful podcast, interesting and useful to you, and see you next time on another episode of New Solo.