IdentiFile to the Rescue!

“Mass-produced documents” in a school district or business/organization is usually synonymous with “mass headaches.” If you want to keep copies of them for future reference or for legal reasons, that is – which most schools and businesses at least want to, if not need to, do.

Closeup of a report card and red pencil.

Think (for schools) report cards, standardized assessment test reports, and transcripts. For businesses, non-profit organizations, or other entities, think invoices, statements, shipping documents, donation letters/acknowledgements, or product recall notices – any document that is generated by the dozens, hundreds, or thousands. School districts are legally required to keep transcripts for a certain number of years, depending upon state regulations. For businesses or other entities, the document trail of, for instance, notifications and recall notices sent to customers may be not only convenient, it might also prevent (or help win) a lawsuit for the organization.

The problem has been finding a cost- and labor-effective way of bridging the gap between generating the documents and filing the documents in each appropriate student or customer file. Take report cards, for example, in an average-sized school district of 4,500 students. That’s 4,500 report cards, generated 3-4 times per year – depending upon the marking period frequency. Eighteen thousand report cards per year that (in the past) needed to be printed, separated, and filed in each student’s cumulative folder. Why? Not every Student Information System (SIS) keeps copies of each report card for each student. Even if they did, school districts switch SISs from time to time – effectively losing access to documents stored in the previous SIS. Or what if you need to refer to documents when your SIS is down for maintenance or due to a problem?

IdentiFile™ to the rescue! IdentiFile™ is a new technology released by Bull Valley Software for use in conjunction with our DocumentLOK™ document management system. With IdentiFile™, the large (usually PDF) file generated by your SIS or business system is “read”, and the necessary metadata is extracted for each report card, recall notice, or whatever. The gigantic PDF is then separated by student or customer (a process called bursting). The metadata is then used to file a copy of each unique report card (or other document) into each student’s (or customer’s) file – all without any human intervention. Those filed report cards or other documents are then linked back to the student or customer record within your SIS or business system – so you can access those documents again with one or two mouse clicks – and without ever leaving your SIS or business system! Now, how slick is that?

Seriously, though, it really is. The amount of time that our users have told us they will save is insane. We’re not talking a couple hours here and there – we’re talking dozens of hours. Everyone who has seen it is excited about it. And so are we!

Bull Valley Software LogoTo learn more about IdentiFile™ or DocumentLOK™, visit our web site at To see either product in action, call us at (815) 788-1888, or email us at


If you’re in business, you plan. It’s what you do – Part 2

Inspired by an article carried in the March 4th edition of the Dallas Business Journal (DBJ), our two-part post entitled, “If you’re in business, you plan. It’s what you do,” discusses planning for one of the worst things imaginable – a natural or man-made disaster that could cripple your business. The DBJ article outlined five specific areas that are critical to disaster planning; in this two-part post, we are focusing on two of the most critical areas – data preservation and information safety. Part 1 discussed protecting your physical documents and business records, and concluded that the only way to truly protect them from deletion or destruction was to digitize and index them using a document management system, which will also provide instant access while carrying out your daily work responsibilities.

In this, the secFirefighter Putting Out Fireond and final part, we will focus on backup, disaster recovery and business continuity – or BDR/BC. Gotta love those acronyms… Before we dive into what each of those acronyms mean, though, we need to lay a little groundwork. First there are two causes of disasters – natural and man-made. Natural disasters are the ones everybody thinks of – e.g., storm damage, floods, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, and so on. But we can’t forget about the man-made disasters – e.g., data breaches caused by hackers, phishers, or disgruntled employees; intentional or accidental sabotage (mass deletion of data, the unleashing of viruses or other malware), again by hackers or disgruntled employees; vandalism; arson or accidental fires, etc.  Bringing this back home and putting it into the context of our I.T. assets (network hardware/servers and data), any of these causes could result in one of two unpleasant outcomes: a) a critical server failure, which is self-explanatory; or b) a facility failure, where your entire network and possibly your facility itself is destroyed or damaged so severely that you cannot continue with your daily operations – at least not from that facility.

So… with that in mind, what exactly is BDR/BC? Let’s start with the BDR part. Just about everyone is familiar with the “B” in BDR – that being Backup. Every day, or sometimes multiple times a day, an organization – be Secure CDit a school district, bank, healthcare provider, property management company or association, government agency, or any business – backs up its data files (or at least it should). This backup could be: a) to some sort of removable media, e.g., tapes, CD/DVDs, USB drives, etc.; b) to another hard drive on the network (also called disk-to-disk backup); and/or c) to the cloud or an offsite data center. The “DR”, or disaster recovery, involves the recovery and restoration of that data to your server(s).

Each of the backup types has its pros and cons: Removable media results in a copy of your data kept off-site (assuming you actually take it off-site) – which protects your data from being lost in a fire, flood, tornado, and so on. Cloud Backup GraphicThe down-sides are that a) both the backup and restore processes are slow when using removable media; b) depending upon the amount of data being backed up, you may need to wait around to put in a second (or third, fourth, etc.) tape/CD/DVD; and c) in the event of a server failure, you have to wait until a new server is obtained, configured, and re-loaded. Ditto in the event of a facility failure; business operations are at a stand-still.

Disk-to-disk backups allow for much faster backup and recovery processes, and alleviate the need to use multiple tapes/CDs/DVDs (assuming that your destination drive is sized properly). As in disk-to-removable media situations, disk-to-disk backups allow you to restore the data only after replacement servers have been obtained, configured, and reloaded. This might be the least of your worries, though – because, in the event of a facility failure, unless the disk to which you backed up is located off-site, your backup disk was just destroyed along with your server(s). Business is, again, at a standstill.

Disk-to-cloud backups appear to offer the best of both worlds in that the backup and restoration processes are faster, and they do not involve multiple tapes/CDs/DVDs. You don’t have to worry about your backup being destroyed with your servers, because it is safely stored in the cloud. Unfortunately, though, just as with disk-to-removable media and disk-to-disk backups, in the event of a server failure, business is once again at a standstill until a new server (or servers) can be obtained, configured, and reloaded. Ditto (again) in the event of a facility failure; business operations are at a stand-still.

This is where tBusiness Continuity Graphiche “BC” or business continuity comes in. In a complete BDR/BC solution from Bull Valley Software, we implement a disk-to-disk-to-cloud backup – so that the first backup copy is located on an on-site device to facilitate a faster recovery (if a server or complete facility failure is not at issue), and a duplicate copy is stored on the cloud for added protection. In addition, we create duplicate, virtual images of all of your critical servers – again, both onsite and in the cloud. This means that, whether you experience a server failure or even a complete facility destruction, all of your critical servers can “come to life” in a virtual environment with little or no delay, your employees can work from home or from a temporary facility, and business can continue (at least from an I.T. perspective) as if nothing happened.

For more information on our BDR/BC services, CLICK HERE, call 815-788-1888, or email


If you are in business, you plan. It’s what you do – Part 1

No, this isn’t a Geico commercial, though few would not recognize the reference to the popular “It’s What You Do” advertising campaign that the insurance carrier has been running since 2014.

If you are in business, you plan. It’s what you do. Very true. You may be in business, but you probably won’t stay in business very long if you don’t plan. For new products. For next year’s enrollment. For budgeting future income and expenses. For replacing worn-out or fully-depreciated vehicles or buses. For just about everything that you need to do to maintain a healthy business. And for one thing that can protect your business from a catastrophic demise: disaster recovery.

The March 4th edition of the Dallas Business Journal carried an article entitled, “Five Ways to Get Ahead by Planning for the Worst” in which it listed five critical areas which need to be addressed in any disaster recovery plan. The first area cited is an area that, in many organizations, is only partially protected – a company’s files and data. I say “partially protected” because, while most organizations are diligent about backing up their data, these backups often provide only a partial solution. In addition, these same organizations, which are so diligent about backing up their data, are often leaving their physical files, documents, and records wide open to complete destruction.

In this, the first segment of a two-part post, I’d like to address the latter exposure – that of an organization’s physical files, documents, and records. When I am discussing this topic with a business, school district or other organization, the first questions I ask are, “If your daily backups protect and restore your data, and your insurance policies protect and replace your assets and property, what protects and recovers your physical files, documents, and business records? And what about the 50, 75, or 100 years’ worth of student records in your storeroom that you are legally mandated to retain?” These critical business assets are only one fire, flood, tornado, or disgruntled former employee away from being lost forever. That’s right, not every disaster is a natural disaster; many are man-made. The worst part is, in a natural disaster – say a fire or flood – you may experience a partial loss, e.g., “just” the files and records in one campus, but the man-made disasters created by hackers or disgruntled former employees are designed to completely obliterate their targets.

There is also another disaster that can be created in the wake of the first disaster – one that is rarely considered. Imagine that your business, school district, or medical practice is hit by a tornado. Your buildings are damaged and your customer/student/patient records are gone. Where did they go? In a fire, they are typically destroyed by the fire itself, or by the water used to extinguish the blaze. That is not the case in a tornado; your documents and records are, for the most part, still intact. Somewhere. All of those sensitive documents, with customers’ credit card numbers, student social security numbers & FERPA-protected information, or HIPAA-protected patient records, are scattered across the county, just waiting to be picked up by the wrong person. Don’t think for a minute that, simply because it was a natural disaster (and not negligence) which caused this sensitive information to be compromised, that you have a “get out of jail free” card. Au contraire, mon ami. The responsibility to protect this information includes protecting it from natural disasters as well. If you are dealing with replacing, restoring, and rebuilding in the aftermath of a disaster, do you really need to worry about compromised records, too?

At a minimum, heed the Dallas Business Journal’s advice, and “digitize your paper records so they can be stored along with your critical electronic data.” For a more complete solution, a document management system like DocumentLOK can provide the final piece to your comprehensive disaster recovery plan. If you would like to learn how, check out out new website at, then call us at 815-788-1888, or email us at; we’ll be happy to answer your questions.