In “Technology Considerations When Buying or Selling a Law Practice,” Nelson and Simek of Sensei Enterprises discuss the problem of getting your data out of cloud or software-as-a-service (SaaS) document management and file storage solutions:

While using cloud services may be cost effective for solos and small firm attorneys, they can also be a royal pain when it comes time to shut them down or change providers. We constantly lecture to attorneys that are considering using the cloud to read the terms of service and to understand the potential costs and consequences of putting your data in the hands of a third party. One area to concentrate on is the “exit strategy.” In other words, what will you do if you want to change cloud providers or (in this case) transfer your data to someone else? In what format can you get the data? Is there a cost for exporting the information? Who owns the data? These are all questions that should have been answered when you originally contracted for the service.

The last thing you want is to be held hostage because it is extremely difficult or costly to get YOUR data back.

And again later:

More than once, we’ve seen vendors hold data hostage which will be frustrating to both buyer and seller – it’s better that you understand all possible problems from the outset.

Although this word of caution is directed to lawyers and legal firms, it’s just as true for any business. We’ve also seen companies get burned when document management companies make it difficult or impossible to get their data from them. Some will refuse to give you back your data once you stop paying them or lack a way to export your files. Others will give you a backup of your data that can only be read with their proprietary software – which you’ll have to pay for, of course.

These arrangements are ugly and unfair. At Scan123, we believe that your data belongs to YOU. That’s why we have our No Hostage Data Guarantee written into every contract. At any point in the lifetime of your business relationship with Scan123, you can get a one-time FREE, complete data backup of all of your files in their original format, as scanning specialist Gordon Vavrek explains here. Be sure to read the fine print on the agreement before you sign with another document management company so you know what you’re getting yourself into. To learn more about the Scan123 No Hostage Data Guarantee, give us a call at 1-888-481-3727, or check out our website at