Have you ever found that, after years of fast and reliable use, your database is no longer as responsive as it once was? Databases that remain in continuous use for many years inevitably become “bloated”. Time Matters, one of the more popular law firm practice management systems, is no exception to this. After many years of use, performance and reliability issues can begin to surface, suggesting that a Time Matters database cleanup may be needed.
For those with Microsoft SQL skills, the ideal way to perform a Time Matters database cleanup is in the “back-end” SQL database, outside of the Time Matters application itself. This is done by executing a series of SQL scripts, which will both remove unneeded records and shrink the table sizes, reducing the overall storage space needed for the data.
Fortunately, there are some maintenance activities that can be performed directly within the Time Matters application. These can help to remove data that is no longer needed, somewhat improving system performance. While not as thorough as a “back end” cleanup, it can improve search and list performance to some extent.
There are three routines that can be performed within the application to remove data in the various Time Matters tables:
- List/sort/tag/delete records in each of the Time Matters tables in the main database
- List/sort/tag/delete records in the Time Matters archive database, if the archive is used
- Tag and delete records stored in the Time Matters Recycle Bin
List/sort/tag/delete records in Time Matters tables
All of the tables in the Time Matters database (Events, To-dos, Contacts, Matters, etc.) can be displayed in List View, by selecting the appropriate menu item from the drop-down lists on the main menu. Once selected, these lists can be sorted by any of the fields stored in the table. A count of the total number of records in the table can also be displayed, by selecting View|Record Count from the top menu.
A common first ask when initiating a database cleanup is to sort each record list by some field value that makes sense for analysis purposes; for many table types, sorting by date is the logical choice. Once sorted, records identified as candidates for deletion can be tagged, and the number of tagged records can then also be displayed via the Record Count function from the View menu. This will show the number of potential deleted records as a subset of the total record count, to gain some insight into the record count reduction that will be achieved by deleting the tagged records. When satisfied with the results, all of the tagged items can be moved to the Time Matters Recycle Bin via the Delete Records choice from the Process menu.
This process should be repeated for each record type used in your database. Most firms do not use every record type available in Time Matters, so this procedure will not need to be repeated for lists that hold no – or few – records.
List/sort/tag/delete records in the Time Matters archive
All Time Matters records can be moved, as needed, to an “archive” storage area, where they are removed from display in list views or search activities, but can be either viewed within the archive, or moved back to the active record area, as needed. If your firm has archived any records, the same steps performed on the active record lists should be performed on the archive record lists. The archive, and all of its associated record types, can be accessed via the File|Archive menu choice. Once the archive is opened, the same sorting, tagging, and deleting procedure can be performed on the archived records. Again, completing this process will move the tagged records to the Time Matters Recycle Bin.
Tag and delete records stored in the Time Matters Recycle Bin
Records deleted from lists via the Delete Records function from the Process menu are not completely deleted from the “back-end” SQL tables; they are instead moved to the Time Matters Recycle Bin, a secondary storage area similar in function to the Windows Recycle Bin. The final step in removing these records, also similar to the function of the Windows Recycle Bin, is to delete selected records from the Recycle Bin itself. Again, there are filters available to apply to Recycle Bin records (Date, Record Type, Tagged) to “fine tune” the actual deletion process. This final step will physically remove records from the data tables, so choose carefully before deleting. And make a full database backup, to protect against the “oops!” factor.
We created a checklist for performing this Time Matters database cleanup task, which can help guide you through the overall cleanup process. You can download the checklist by clicking here.
This Time Matters database cleanup process will not “scrub” the back-end SQL tables as thoroughly as full-blown record deletions via SQL scripts, but it will make list views perform a bit faster and improve record sort and search performance.
Need help with Time Matters maintenance tasks, or other housekeeping activities for your data? Give us a call at 877-375-2180 or email us at [email protected] to discuss your needs and learn how we can help.
Jack Schaller has been active in the field of law office technology since 1989, and has worked with a variety of commercial accounting, legal billing, practice management, and document management software products during his twenty plus years in the software consulting field. During his tenure as a software consultant he has garnered many sales and service awards for his work with legal software products. Jack is a frequent presenter at legal conferences and seminars, and is a regular contributor to TechnoLawyer and other technology publications.