Backup Policies and Procedures

This document covers the policies and procedures as it relates to system backups within the Department of Astronomy at the University of Florida. This document will address what data is backed up, frequency of system backups, data restoration, and the responsibility that users have regarding their own data.

Table of Contents

What Data is Backed Up?

As of December 2011, the total amount of data stored within the UF Astronomy Department was just over 120 terabytes. With this large of a set of data, it is impossible for the systems staff to backup everything. Below is the list of all data that the system staff will backup in accordance with this policy.

Although the departmental system staff back up nearly everything in an individual users home directory, the Mozilla, Netscape, and Firefox directories are excluded because of the superfluous cache data. This means that it is possible for a user to lose their bookmarks.

The department does not have the facilities to back up any data that is not explicitly listed in this document. For *nix users, this means the department does not back up any data stored in the /astro/data hierarchy or on the local /scratch disks of each workstation. For Windows users, this means the department does not back up anything on the local C: drive, or any other drive unless it is on the \\ASTROSMB samba server. If the data is important to you, you will need to be responsible and back it up yourself, or move it to one of the backed up locations.

Windows users who are not currently configured to store their data on the network home space should send an email to admin at to request help in setting up their windows drive mapping.

Nightly Backups

Once a week, the IT staff perform a complete, level-0, backup of all data covered under the backup procedures. In addition to the full weekly backup, each night the IT staff perform differential backups of data that has changed since the last full backup.

Unfortunately, if a file is accidentally lost before a scheduled backup event could be performed, there is no way to recover the data. As a general rule, users should only assume that the most recent backup was made the previous evening.

The department is committed to providing secure backups with a six month horizon. Each week departmental system staff shuttle the previous backup set to a secure off-site storage facility. When a user account has been terminated, system staff will backup all of the user data on to optical media and remove it from the network. Once data has been stored offline on optical media, it will remain there indefinitely.

In the event of a complete catastrophe, such as a fire, system staff will be able to recover the data from the previous weeks backup set. Under such extreme and dire circumstances, at the most, one week of data may be lost.

Data Restoration Policy

System staff will automatically perform data restorations under the following conditions:

If either of the two conditions listed above are responsible for the data loss, system staff will make every attempt to recover the data within a business day. However, in the event of a catastrophic event, such as fire damage, services and data may be unavailable for an extended period of time.

In the event of data loss due to user error, departmental system staff may restore corrupted or deleted files that would take more than one business day to re-create. These restorations will be performed on a time available basis, and will occur within the next five business days. Users should submit a request to admin at to have the data restored.

User Responsibilities

Because it is impractical for the system staff to backup every bit of data stored on the Astronomy network, the only data the department IT staff accept responsibility for is the data which is explicitly listed above. If users have data that they feel is critical and must be backed up, there are multiple options available.

Users can use any of the following storage mediums to perform their own backups:

Unfortunately, the department cannot provide backup storage media. The system staff will be happy to order blank CDs, DVDs, and tapes for you if you will provide us with a grant number, but we do not have spare media that we can give away.

If you have backup needs that you feel are not adequately addressed by this document, please drop me a note at ken at