Following up on last week’s post, relationships with technology providers – even the best ones – don’t last forever, so it is important to understand whether (and how) you can get your data back when the relationship comes to an end. You may be surprised to learn that many contracts are silent on this issue.

At a minimum, you should be entitled to download your data from a cloud-service provider’s system for a specified period of time after the termination of an agreement (in the case of consultants and other professional services providers, you should receive a copy of all data provided to or collected by the vendor while it provided services). Ideally, the data should be in a platform-platform agnostic format so you can move it to another software product without incurring additional cost to convert the data from your last provider’s proprietary format.

Be warned: some vendors include language in their agreements that prevents customers from receiving a copy of their data until all fees have been paid. Vendors have a right to get paid for their products and services, but you need to make sure that if you have a good faith dispute with the vendor about fees, and that dispute has not been resolved by the time the agreement comes to an end, you can nonetheless obtain a copy of your data while you work things out with the vendor.