An introduction to the University's HFS backup service

The HFS backup service provides two separate ways of backing up data on desktop machines, laptops and multi-user machines and servers. They have different features and benefits. You can choose which is most suitable for your purpose.

Code42 (also known as CrashPlan) is a cloud-based backup product that is primarily designed for single-user workstations and laptops containing a modest amount of data. It offers frequent (by default every 15 minutes), automated, backups in the background for user-selected candidate data. Multiple versions of your backups are held and these are easily restored back to the original machine or another machine you have registered with the service. Code42 can back up from anywhere with an Internet connection. More information is available on the HFS Code42 Cloud backup service introductory page.

Where Code42 is not suitable, for example file servers, application servers, virtual infrastructures, multi user systems, and other server-like machines, the HFS offers an on-site, disk-based backup service. This is based around the IBM Spectrum Protect client software and replaces the old, tape-based backup service that has run since 1995. With this service, your backups go to a primary server in one location, and are then replicated to a 'replica' server at a remote location shortly after, (normally within a day). Your data is held on disk and is accessible for restore, even if the primary server is unavailable. Versioning is currently limited to seven versions of any one file at any time with older versions retained for 90 days (the most recent backup version is retained for as long as it exists on the machine), although this is subject to review, and thereby offers a reasonable point-in-time recovery of data. Backup using Spectrum Protect is restricted to IP addresses on the University network. More details on this service are available on the HFS on-site, disk-based backup service introduction page.

Who is it for?

Oxford University staff, senior members and postgraduates can use both services, but not undergraduates. Access is determined by University card status. For details see University card and IT services entitlements

What do I need to use the service?

A  university SSO (with the required status), a computer running a modern version of Windows, macOS or Linux/Unix, some work worth securing and a network connection. We would expect machines backing up to the on-site service to be attached to the University network but this does not apply to the Code42 cloud backup.

Are there any limits to use of the services?

Yes. Code42 is licensed on a per-user basis, is not allowed (by licence) on server operating systems, and has a fair usage assumption that each user can backup a maximum of four separate devices (machines) under their name account. While Code42 claims it has unlimited storage, there is a practical limit to how much can be backed up by any one machine. This will vary a little depending on the structure of the data, but we are advised that beyond 5TB of data and/or several million files, the client software will begin to become unusable.

The on-site backup service also has limits which are under review as this service moves into production. More information can be found on the link to the HFS on-site, disk-based backup service in the paragraph above. 

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