Deleting old HFS backups

Backup is expensive, and yet invaluable if you lose your disk!  To ensure your data is secure we strongly encourage you to make regular scheduled or manual backups of your systems at least once a week.  In order to manage our resources efficiently and provide an effective service, the guidelines for use of the HFS Backup service ask users to cooperate with us and maintain active backups of data.  By active we mean that the backups reflect the current state of the disk.

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In order to encourage clients to keep their backups up to date, and to give them the opportunity to request the deletion of old, redundant backups, the HFS service issues a rolling series of email updates.  The nature of this email is as follows:

  1. On a daily basis, reminders of when the daily and/or weekly scheduled backups have failed or been missed are sent to email contacts.
  2. Contacts for machines that have not contacted the HFS Backup service for more than 4 weeks are advised by mail that the backups for this machine are consequently becoming stale and correspondingly less valid in the event of data loss on these machines.
  3. If a machine has not contacted the HFS Backup service for more than 10 weeks, contacts are advised by email that this level of inactivity does not correspond to our guidelines of use requiring that regular backups of active data are made.  A warning is thus issued that should the machines fail to backup within 28 days of this notice, then it will be removed from the HFS Backup service and the backup data deleted.
  4. Clients are advised when the backups of any drives/volumes/partition/filesystems become more than 10 weeks old and thus can no longer be considered as active backups.  A warning is issued that these backups will be deleted if they are not refreshed within 28 days of this notice.

    Please note that only old backups are candidates here.
    You may have a mixture of old and recent backups.  In such cases your recent backups, those that have been refreshed within the last 10 weeks and are thus considered active, will be retained.  The messages you receive will refer only to backups of drive partitions that are older than 10 weeks.

The messages you receive will only refer to old backups, they will not apply to backups recently created or refreshed.

There may be many reasons why backups have gone a long time without being refreshed.  Some of these may include.

  • While a disk or volume or installation package was temporarily mounted on your system, it was backed up.  The disk/volume/package was subsequently unmounted and the backups have not been refreshed since, probably, because they were not wanted in the first place.
  • The disk has been repartitioned.
  • On Unix-like systems the mount points have been renamed.
  • On Windows platforms, the computer name has changed.
  • The TSM nodename - the backup account - has been moved from one machine to another.

When you backup your machine using TSM, it can only refresh the backups of drives/partitions/filesystems that currently exist on your machine.  Old drives/partitions/filesystems, perhaps stemming from any of the above reasons listed, cannot be refreshed and thus become inactive.  As a user, you cannot delete these backups.  Where you have identified backups of old drives or partitions that you wish to remove, please contact the Service Desk with the details.  When we identify old backups, we contact you, asking you to either refresh them, if they are currently active partitions, or asking you to let us delete them where they are of a partition no longer on your machine.

If a laptop is to be taken away from Oxford for work purposes you can apply for your backups to be exempt from deletion for the time you anticipate being away.  Contact the Service Desk with the TSM nodename of the machine and the contact address of it's owner.  This option is time-limited, but we try to be accommodating.

If you are having problems using the HFS Backup service, please first of all try the help pages.  Otherwise please contact the Service Desk, detailing the problem along with copies of the TSM configuration files and error log.  Details of the platform-specific location of these files are to be found in our section on TSM configuration and log files.

If you no longer require the backups of an entire machine to be kept, please de-register the machine from HFS Backup via the HFS Backup & Archive Services Portal.  This will cause the backups to be deleted on the TSM server (normally after a 7 day 'cooling off' period).  Don't forget also to uninstall the TSM client software from the machine.

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