Happy New Year everyone! We’re officially in 2020… The 20’s! It’s the first decade that has a proper name since The 90s! Gosh it feels good to be able to refer to our present era. If you haven’t made a New Years Resolution yet, I’d suggest ensuring all your tenant data is safely backed up! I know it sounds boring compared to yoyo diets or spending more time with your kids, but this resolution is vital for your business! Allow me to expand:
1Form is a wonderful tenant application platform. It can gather all the information you need to know about tenants, compile it all together, cross check it, and deliver it to you with a nice neat bow around it making your tenancy application process a breeze. For this purpose, it’s a great product. But it is absolutely not, not, NOT, NOT a long term data storage solution.
Some of our managers rely on 1Form to store their tenant applications, including tenant IDs. It’s something managers probably do without even thinking, assuming the data is safely stored there in the cloud of 1Form’s system forever, ready for retrieval in the distant future, should they ever need it. I want to make all managers aware that this is absolutely not the case. As soon as an application is accepted, all of the application data should be all downloaded from 1Form, and safely backed up somewhere secure along with the lease agreement. It should then be deleted from 1Form.
It should never be relied upon that 1Form will safely back-up your tenant information in perpetuity – it doesn’t. After six months, all your tenant applications are automatically purged from the 1Form system. 1Form is not a long-term data storage solution, it’s a tenant application platform, and once the application has been accepted (or rejected) the data should be moved to your local system.
As a rule, I store all my valuable data on a dedicated physical server, completely separated from my general workstation. This server has its own separate security system and firewall, and it is only used for file storage. The easiest way for hackers to compromise your system is by tricking you into running a dangerous file or link. They generally do this by emailing you something, or sending you somewhere where you’ll make a critical mistake leaving your system vulnerable to exploitation.
Keeping your private files and data on a server separate to your general workstation means even if hackers trick you into running a dangerous file or link, they’ll only compromise your computer, not your server.
My file server doesn’t receive emails or surf the web, it doesn’t run files, it just stores them. In this way, even if my computer is compromised, my server remains protected as an added layer of security. Even if ransomware encrypts my entire disk, the only thing I’d lose would be my operating system and programs (which can be effortlessly re-installed in a few minutes). None of my vital data will be compromised or lost. My server has multiple drives, which are constantly making backups of this information, so even if a drive is lost, the data is not.
I would strongly suggest to all managers to do likewise, particularly when dealing with vital information like tenant IDs.
We recently had a situation where one of our managers had a tenant trash the unit and skip town. Luckily the owner had taken out landlords insurance…. BUT… when our manager went back to 1Form to provide the insurer with the tenant’s ID, he made the heart-aching discovery that the 6 month period had passed and all the application information on this unit had been wiped without any backups being made.
If there’s one new years resolution you need to make in 2020, it’s to ensure you have a secure, dedicated, separate local file server (or even a locked filing cabinet if you want to go low-tech… or better still, use both) and use that to store your sensitive tenant information. Remember, 1Form is not a long term storage solution.