If you cannot find what you need to know, please contact the HFS team via hfs@it.ox.ac.uk

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1.1. How do I register for the backup service?

Please review and follow the instructions for registering for the backup service.

1.2. Who can register for the backup service?

Oxford University backup services are available to all University staff, senior members and postgraduates. You will need to have an operating system that is currently supported and direct access to the university network.

1.3. I am an Oxford University undergraduate student - can I register for the backup service?

No, IT Services do not have the resources to supply this service to all students. There may be a local service that is provided by your college or department: please speak to your local IT Support Team for further information.

1.4. Which type of account should I register for?

There are four different types of HFS account:


Desktop/laptop accounts represent the most common type of backup account. They should ideally be accessed via a direct connection to the university network, although it is also possible to do so via eduroam wireless or using VPN. Unless you have chosen otherwise when you registered your account (usually because you will only be backing up over VPN), there are automatic weekly backups one night per week, but it is not necessary to use these: you can also run a manual backup at any time. Choose this type of account if your machine is regularly connected to the Oxford network, either just in term-time or throughout the year, and then you will able to back up in university departments, colleges and libraries.


Server accounts are intended for departmental and college servers which themselves provide services, software and/or storage space for other systems. You need to be IT Support Staff to register this type, so if that is not the case then ask your IT to register it for you, with your e-mail address as the contact for the account; he/she can then provide you with the node password and/or install the HFS software for you. The daily limit is higher than that for desktop/laptop accounts, and automatic scheduled backups run six days a week (every weekday and once at weekends). Before registering for this type of account, please also read our page on server node registration requirements.

Large server

Large server accounts are intended for machines that provide services and which have over 1.5TB to back up on their first backup and which may regularly experience daily incremental data change rates greater than 400GB. These figures are guidelines only and potential users of this service, who again must be IT staff, are asked to register an interest in this service in the HFS Portal. Registration for this service is thus not automatic. The daily limit is higher than that for server accounts, and again automatic scheduled backups run six days a week. Before registering for this type of account, please also read our page on server node registration requirements.


Archive accounts are for the long-term storage of data which is considered to be of value to the university. Potential users of this service are asked to register an interest in this service via a web form - please see further our pages on the HFS archive service.

All accounts are available for backup and restore 24/7. For the limits on how much data you can send for the different accounts please see 9.11. How much data can I back up?.

Please note that it is possible for us to change one account type into another but that the process is not simple. If you register for the wrong type of account please do not de-register and then re-register, as this will schedule both your old and new accounts for deletion - instead please contact the HFS Team on hfs@ox.ac.uk.

1.5. What is a nodename?

Your nodename is the name of your backup or archive account. We ask that users have one account per operating system instance. Nodenames for backup are usually of the form username-text-dept/college, e.g. ABCD1234-MYLAPTOP-EXETER. This is called the personal desktop/laptop (flexible name) type. There are other types of backup nodenames available to IT Support Staff only, as detailed below.

Nodename type Format     Example     Availability
Personal desktop (flexible name) username-text-dept/college ABCD1234-MYLAPTOP-EXETER All HFS users
Unit desktop (flexible name) facility-text-dept/college HELPCENTRE-PC-ITSERV ITSS only
Unit desktop (IP name) As IP name MYDESKTOP.IT ITSS only
Unit server (IP name) As IP name MYSERVER.IT ITSS only
Unit large server (IP name) As IP name MYLARGESERVER.IT ITSS only
Archive account project_ARCHIVE.dept/college IMAGES_ARCHIVE.IT Archive account holders


1.6. Can I register a Windows 2000 Client for backup?

Maintaining support for legacy and diverse operating systems is time-consuming. Therefore IT Services no longer register nodes using Windows 2000 or earlier - some existing installations will continue to be supported if the machines cannot be upgraded to a later OS but these will be done on an individually agreed basis. Similarly, we do not receive support from IBM for legacy client operating systems.

1.7. How do I change the owner and/or contact of a registered backup account?

The answer to this question depends on whether you are IT Support Staff: If you manage multiple accounts and own HFS accounts whose users have changed, you can change e-mail contacts for the accounts in the HFS Portal. Please note, though, that this method would mean that a new user could access, via restores, a former user's data. If you yourself are leaving and manage multiple accounts, please contact the HFS team via hfs@it.ox.ac.uk with details of the nodes and their new owner(s) and contact(s).

2.1. Why can I not download the software installation file?

If you cannot download the backup client software, please verify that you were either directly connected to the Oxford University network, or connected via VPN, when you tried to download. The client software can only be downloaded, installed and run on machines that are within the physical Oxford University network or connected via VPN. You cannot download the client software over the eduroam network.

2.2. Why is my operating system not on your list?

Maintaining operating system support for legacy and diverse OSes is time-consuming. Therefore IT Services no longer register nodes using Windows 2000 or earlier - some existing installations will continue to be supported if the machines cannot be upgraded to a later OS but these will be done on an individually agreed basis.

Similarly, we do not receive support from IBM for legacy client operating systems.

2.3. Why are IT Services not using the latest version of the backup client software ?

It is not practical for us always to be using the latest client software, and new versions often prove to have minor bugs. Also, unless there is a genuine reason to upgrade the client software we may not force clients to upgrade.

2.4. What would happen if I installed the wrong backup client on my machine?

There are built-in checks during the installation that should prevent you from installing the wrong client software onto your machine - even if the wrong version were installed, the worst-case scenario is that the client software would not work until the correct version were installed.

3.1. Why won't the installer accept my nodename and password?

If your nodename and password combination aren't accepted, visit the HFS Backup & Archive Services Portal to double-check your registered nodename and to reset your password if necessary.

3.2. Why won't the installation package unzip?

You need to have local administrative rights to perform the installation. You may need to speak to your local IT staff if they manage your machine, and to ask them to install backup client software for you.

3.3. How do I upgrade to a newer version of the backup client software?

To upgrade your backup client, you only need to install the latest version that is available for your operating system. Just install the new software as documented via the client-specific instructions linked from the downloads page.

3.4. Why was my client configuration not reporting to the correct server?

This could be due to a number of reasons but is normally because the client has been de registered and then re registered by the owner. In order to ensure stability and availability of our services the Backups are spread across a number of servers. Therefore, when clients register they may not be placed on the same server - this is certainly the case if registrations are not at the same time even if it is for the same machine.

Other reasons could be:

  • The client has not communicated with the servers for a long period of time and have been removed from the servers and therefore forcing the client to be re registered. See FAQ
  • An old dsm.opt was already on the client and detected and used during the installation process

3.5. How can I back up a dual-boot machine?

You will need a backup client for each operating system. Register separately for each of your two (or three) operating systems for HFS Backup via the HFS Backup & Archive Services Portal. This will give you Backup Client nodenames of the form username-text-department/college, e.g. abcd1234-windows-exeter and abcd1234-linux-exeter. You should then obtain and install the latest Backup Client software for each operating system, from the downloads page.

Please make sure to exclude each operating system's files from the other, so that e.g. your Windows partition does not back up your Linux files or vice versa, to ensure that the HFS does not receive your data twice. For instructions on this please see how to exclude files and folders from backup.

Please also note that the IBM Spectrum Protect (aka TSM) software does not support cross-platform backup/restores, meaning that you should not attempt to back up data from two different operating systems in one account, nor to restore data backed up by one operating system to another.

4.1. Why do backup client passwords expire?

Backup client passwords expire 190 days after being set. It is generally good security practice to change passwords regularly and this setting forces users to change their password at least once a year. It also provides a limited safeguard to backups of machines made by users who then leave.

However, by default, you will have the PasswordAccess option in your options file set to Generate. In this case, the client and server will autonegotiate a new password and store it in encrypted form on the local client disk and you, the user, do not have to do anything.

4.2. How do I change my backup client password?

You can reset your backup client password by going to the HFS Portal. On identifying yourself with your Oxford username you can choose the option to reset your backup client password(s). The change will take effect immediately.

The backup client password must be between 10 and 63 characters long and is case-insensitive. Valid characters are [a-zA-Z0-9+.-_&] i.e. any letter a-z upper or lower case, any number 0-9, plus, period, underscore, hyphen, ampersand.

Once you have changed your password, you need to reconfigure your backup client on your machine.  For instructions on doing this, see Reconfiguring the backup client.

4.3. What do I do if I've forgotten my backup client password or if it has expired?

If, on starting the backup client, you are prompted that your password has expired, or on inputting your password you receive a message 'Authentication failure' or 'ANS1051E: Invalid password', then you will need to reset your backup client password.

For how to do this please see the previous section, 4.2. How do I change my backup client password?.

5.1. Why would I need to perform a manual backup?

Manual backups can be completed at any time to capture important changed data - between scheduled backups, after missing scheduled backups or even as an alternative to scheduled backups (ideal for laptop users who are unable to leave their machines on overnight for the scheduled backups).

5.2. When is my scheduled backup?

Go to the HFS Portal and select the node for which you want information. Times of scheduled backups will be shown in the Summary tab.

5.3. How can I see if my manual backups are successful?

Go to the HFS Portal and select the node for which you want information. The time of the last completed backup is shown in the Summary tab and details of all backup and restore sessions are shown in the Activity and Backup and restore tabs. (Note that this information is not updated immediately and may be up to an hour out of date. If you need more recent information use the following method.)

5.4. What do the barred red circles mean?

The folders and files marked with barred red circles are excluded from backup and will not be backed up. The specific exclusions have been written for a number of reasons, the main one being that the backups are intended to be used for individual data and not for installation directories or system data, e.g. the Windows directory or Program Files.

5.5. I want to back up a folder or file that has a barred red circle next to it.

It is possible to remove the exclusion and include a file or folder in your backup if the exclusion is performed on the client side. However, some exclusions are forced at a server level which will override any settings changed locally - please see Which files are omitted from backups which will go into the exclusions in more detail.

5.6. Can I / Should I back up my OneDrive files and folders?

Your OneDrive files may not get backed up unless they are held locally on your machine. You can tell whether they are locally present, or instead held only online (only in the cloud) using Windows File Explorer. Microsoft has information on how to manage OneDrive file locations

If you have Spectrum Protect or lower, then it will attempt to back up all of your OneDrive folder. This entails the downloading of your OneDrive cloud files to your machine, if you have files which are only in the cloud. The success of such a backup will depend on the available network bandwidth you have, the number and size of files to be downloaded and the available free space you have on your local device. Too little bandwidth, too little free space and/or too many and large files may all conspire to cause the backup to fail on these files with an error message, usually citing error code RC 395. For more information on these errors please see HFS Knowledgebase item KBWIN0018 - BACKUPS FAIL BECAUSE A CLOUD FILE COULD NOT BE BACKED UP. The backup will immediately cut out and no further files will be backed up from your machine, thus potentially leaving other local data on your machine unprotected by backup and at risk of loss.

Future versions of the Spectrum Protect client will sidestep this problem by not attempting to back up files located remotely in the cloud, and only files held locally will be classed as candidates for backup. Should you wish for all your OneDrive files to be included for backup, you will thus have to ensure that all these files reside on your machine at the time of each backup. This may have implications on the amount of free space on your machine. It may also inflate your backups over the daily limits and thereby require multiple consecutive backups over days before completing the full backup of your machine. Finally, you may not have sufficient bandwidth for such a backup: if you are backing up from a remote location from the University over VPN, then backup of a large amount of data will fail to complete.

Our general advice therefore is to exclude your OneDrive files from backup while using the current version of the Spectrum Protect client (see how to exclude files and folders from backup) and to accept the default exclusion of OneDrive data from backup in future versions of the client starting from version 8.1.10.

6.1. Can I change the day that my scheduled backup runs?

For desktop/laptop backup accounts, the day on which an automated overnight scheduled backup runs is dictated by the collegiate/departmental suffix at the end of the backup account name: each college and department is allocated one night a week on which all its backup accounts have their schedule slots. It is therefore not possible to change the day on which a desktop/laptop account's overnight scheduled backup runs. However, it is possible to set automated daytime backups on other days for certain machines, depending on the operating system: please see the next item, Can I change the time that my scheduled backup runs?, on this topic.

6.2. Can I change the time that my scheduled backup runs?

There are two types of backup schedules:

  • Automated overnight schedules, which one may optionally sign up for when registering a backup account. Depending on the college or department selected as the suffix of your account name, these will be at some time between 18:00 and 06:00. If your machine is not normally switched on at the time when your scheduled backup occurs, but it is left connected to the Oxford network, then you can configure it to switch on and off automatically for the backups (see the next item, Do I need to leave my computer on all night in order to back up?). If this is not convenient then you can run a manual backup at any time. However, it is possible to change the time of your backup, albeit within a limited number of slots during the evening and/or night. Please contact hfs@ox.ac.uk if you would like the time of your scheduled backup changed.
  • A separate automated daytime scheduler is available for Windows. Please see further our page on the HFS Windows daytime client scheduler.

6.3. Do I need to leave my computer on all night in order to back up?

No, that is not necessary. There are two alternatives to leaving your machine switched on. It can be configured to wake up at a specific time for the backup schedule to run, and also to shut off again when the backup has completed: please see further our page on setting a machine to switch on and off for scheduled backups. Alternatively, you can run a manual backup at any time.

6.4. When is my scheduled backup due to run?

Go to the HFS Portal and select the node for which you want information. The regular schedule times are shown in the Summary tab and the dates of times of all scheduled backups in the next week or shown in the Scheduled tab.

6.5. How can I stop receiving the "HFS Scheduled Backup Failure Report" when I only back up manually?

If you registered your backup account before February 2014, then it will have an overnight backup schedule associated with it by default. Those registering a desktop/laptop account since then will see an option to choose to have a backup schedule, should they want one. If you have a backup schedule that you do not wish to use, then you might like to retain it so that you receive a weekly reminder to run a backup. However, if you wish, you can remove the backup schedule by following the instructions on our page on adding and removing backup schedules.

6.6. How can I stop the backup scheduler running?

In certain circumstances you may wish to stop running scheduled backups.  For example:

  • Your machine is never connected to the university network when the overnight schedules run, and so you do not need a scheduler running.
  • You are running a series of initial manual backups in order to send a full copy of your data to the HFS, before later moving on to use the scheduled ones.
  • You lost data and have as yet to restore it: in this case you should switch off (TSM) scheduler services to ensure that no further automatic backups run before or during your restore.

6.7. I've received an email with the subject of "TSM Scheduled backup failure report"

This means that a scheduled backup for a node registered to your email address has not completed. To resolve the issue or to understand why this happened please follow the Scheduled Backup Troubleshooting guide to resolve the issue.

6.8. What is the difference between MISSED, FAILED and SEVERED backups?

If your scheduled backup does not run or failed to complete you will receive an automated email notification, indication whether a particular node MISSED the schedule, FAILED to backup or was SEVERED. Definitions for each of these can be found below:


This means that the scheduled backup has not run at all, it did not begin. There are a number of reasons this may have happened, please follow the Scheduled backup troubleshooting guide to resolve the issue. Example of why a scheduled backup may have not run are; Machine not being left on, machine not having physical connection to the Oxford University network.


This means that the scheduled backup has started, but something has caused the backup to fail. There are a number of reasons this may have happened, please follow the Scheduled Backup Troubleshooting guide to resolve the issue. Examples of why a scheduled backup may have failed are: files skipped as they were in use by another application, files were explicitly locked, files could not be read due to hard disk error or file corruption


This means that the scheduled backup has started, but something has caused the backup to fail or become disconnected. There are a number of reasons this may have happened, please follow the Scheduled Backup Troubleshooting guide to resolve the issue. Examples of why a scheduled backup may cause a SEVERED error are: network communication error, lack of memory causing connection or application to fail.

7.1. How do I perform a restore?

If you have the machine that you used to back up your data, you can follow our instructions to run a TSM restore.

If you do not have the original machine, then please see our FAQ item 7.3. My machine has crashed - can I perform a system restore?.

7.2. I can't see my files, but I'm sure they were backed up.

The usual reason that files are not visible in the restore window is that they are inactive; the default is for the backup client software only to show active files. For an explanation of active/inactive files, see 7.5. What are active and inactive files?. To view both active and inactive files, click on View  > View Active/Inactive Files.

If viewing inactive files does not help, and your machine is a Mac, please see our knowledgebase article KBMAC0003 - Files expected to be available for restore by TSM for Mac are not listed.

7.3. My machine has crashed - can I perform a system restore?

In the case of desktops and laptops, the backup service provided by IT Services is intended to provide data backups, not system backup and recovery: you should rebuild your system using original media and then install the TSM software to recover your data back onto your machine.

7.4. Why can I not restore my data back to the same location when restoring to a new machine?

In Windows, if your machine has crashed and you are restoring data to a new machine, or if you have upgraded your machine and you are restoring data to a new machine, then you must specify an alternative location to which to restore. This is because when you restore to the original location the backup client software uses the UNC path which will contain the name of the old computer and not the new one. The old UNC path includes the name of the old machine: so unless your old and new your two Windows machines have identical names, the data restore would fail.

7.5. What are active and inactive files?

An active file is a file that currently resides both on your machine and on the HFS, in the same version.

There are two ways in which active files may be rendered inactive:

  • If a file has been backed up previously and therefore exists on the Backup Servers but is then deleted from the live environment, when the next backup runs (manual or scheduled) the file on the Backup Servers is marked as inactive - because it has no live equivalent
    • Inactive files such as this will remain on the Backup Servers for 90 days before they are automatically removed
  • If a file has been backed up previously and therefore exists on the HFS Backup Service but the file is then updated in the live environment, when the next backup runs (manual or scheduled) the original file on the Backup Server is marked as inactive and the updated version of the file is added to the backup servers and becomes the active backup of this file
    • The HFS backup service only keeps one Version document as inactive and one live copy as active, i.e. a subsequent update to the file would see the current inactive file be deleted, the active file become inactive and a new copy of the updated file as the active version
    • For as long as there is an Active file, the Backup Servers will continue to hold an Inactive Version

7.6. What are point in time restores, and how can I use them?

What are "point in time" restores? Point in time restores offer an option to restore files back to a certain date, for example prior to a virus infection or possible data corruption.

Can I use point in time restores? On the HFS, point in time restores are of little use as our policies are set to store only two copies of any given file - the current one, called active, and the previous version, called inactive. For best results set the restore to view both active and inactive before following the normal instructions for restoring files and folders.

For more information on point in time restores please email the HFS Team.

7.7. How do I recover my backups for a malware- or virus-infected machine?

If your machine has been infected by malware or a virus, the first thing to do is to try to prevent new backups of potentially corrupt files from overwriting the backups of valid files. If your machine is still usable, then you can do this by turning off the scheduled backup service. If the machine is unusable, ensure that it is completely powered off and remove any network connections to it.

You will probably be faced with the stark choice of either re-installing software from scratch on your infected machine or else acquiring a new computer. In the latter case, ensure that your new machine is running an operating system of the same type as the infected machine, because otherwise your restore will be troublesome: The backup client software does not support cross-platform restores between Windows, Mac and Linux/Unix, which means that if you backed up with Windows, you must restore with Windows, and so on.

Whether you rebuild or replace your infected system, you will need to re-install and configure the backup client software. It is arguably easier if you configure the new or rebuilt machine with the same account name (aka nodename) as the infected machine, which you used previously to connect and back up. It is important that you disable the scheduled backup service at installation time (or immediately thereafter), in order that backups of the new or rebuilt system do not overwrite the existing backups. Do not run any manual backups either, until you have restored all the data you are missing.

On the new machine create a target area for holding your restored data, such as a new folder called RESTORE, and follow our instructions on how to recover your entire system.

Be prepared to invest some time in validating your restored data and moving and locating it on your new system.

Be aware that some or all of your backups may be corrupt, if you have not discovered the infection in time and if therefore one or more backups have occurred between the date and time of infection and the date and time of your data restoration. You should be able to restore the most recent two versions of each file, which may be important to you if a backup ran after your files were corrupted.

Be careful not to reinstate manual or scheduled backups until you are sure you have restored all the data that you require.

8.1. Why do I need to deregister my backup account when I leave?

If you are leaving the university then we request that deregister your backup account, to ensure that our systems work as effectively and efficiently as possible. If you do not deregister your account then our systems will notice that the account is not contacting our servers and will automatically send out various email notifications (missed backup notices and data deletion warnings) which results in significant administrative work on the part the HFS Team to determine whether the account is still present and active, and also in attempts made to contact the owner. Thus much work is prevented if you advise us that you are, or your machine is, leaving the university.

8.2. Why do I need to remove the software - is deregistering not enough?

There are three reasons why we recommend that you remove the backup client Software if you no longer wish to back up:

  • There is a licensing implication: The software licences are arranged for Oxford University members, and so the licence that you use is linked with your association with the university. When you leave, the license is no longer valid.
  • Some older versions of the backup client software are subject to security vulnerabilities, and new vulnerabilities are occasionally discovered also. So, leaving the software (TSM or IBM Spectrum Protect) on your machine is a possible security risk - it is best uninstalled.
  • Installations of the software left installed will continue to try to contact the HFS servers if the scheduler is left running (which is the case by default). Where an account has been deregistered, but the software not yet uninstalled, can result in the software trying to contact the HFS hundreds of times a day looking for the deleted account and unnecessarily using up limited HFS resources.

9.1. Where are the backup client software configuration and log files located?

The backup client software (TSM) configuration files are found in the following locations - for the moment the rebranded IBM Spectrum Protect software is to be found in the same locations, although it might be expected to change in future client releases.

Table 2. Config File Locations




Windows dsm.opt C:\Program Files\tivoli\tsm\baclient
Linux, Solaris dsm.sys, dsm.opt /usr or /opt/tivoli/tsm/client/ba/bin
Mac OS X dsm.sys, dsm.opt /Library/Preferences/Tivoli Storage Manager
Netware dsm.opt

Installation directory


TSM log files are as follows but as above for caveats on future log file locations.

Table 3. Log File Locations





dsmerror.log, dsmsched.log C:\Program Files\tivoli\tsm\baclient

Linux, Solaris

dsmerror.log, dsmsched.log, tsm-install.log/hfs-sp-install.log /var/log or /opt/tivoli/tsm/client/ba/bin

Mac OS X

dsmerror.log, dsmsched.log, tsm-install.log/hfs-sp-install.log /Library/Logs/tivoli/tsm


dsmerror.log, dsmsched.log, tsm-install.log Installation directory


*The Windows installation log files are tsm-install.log (or, after Spectrum Protect, hfs-sp-install.log) and tsm-msi.log (or hfs-sp-msi.log). To find the directory where these files are located in Windows, do as follows:

  • Windows 7/2008: click on the Windows logo in the bottom-left corner of the screen and type explorer %temp% in the search box (overtyping the words Start Search).

Windows users can find the files via Explorer/My Computer.

Mac users can find the files via Finder but may need to run [Go] > [Go to Folder...] and type or paste in the above-mentioned folder name in order to locate the files. Please also note that the configuration files are in /Library/Preferences/Tivoli Storage Manager, not the (always empty) folder /Users/<your-username>/Library/Preferences/Tivoli Storage Manager.

9.2. What is the difference between backup and archive?

Many people mistakenly consider backup and archive to be the same thing and use the terms interchangeably. In fact they are very different.

Backup is intended to provide a mechanism for securing your current, active files: that is files and data that are resident on your local disk and by implication actively in use. It enables you to recover your disk to its most current state in the event that it is lost (for example, hardware failure); it also enables you to recover a file or files that have been lost (for example, accidentally deleted).

Archive is for the long-term storage of data which is considered to be of value to the university. It is held independent of any files' continued existence on your local disk. Archived files may be removed from the local disk on your computer if required (for example, for space reasons).

9.3. Can I back up/restore from home?

Yes. The HFS supports VPN-based backup for systems that are registered for the desktop backup service. This allows the backup and restore of important University data from anywhere in the world using connections via the University's VPN service: please see further our page on VPN-based backups.

9.4. My account was deleted, so I have re-registered but the Backup Client is not working

The reason for this is because the original deleted account (aka node) was probably registered to a different server than the newly registered account. To resolve this, follow the instructions on removing and reinstalling the backup client software.

Further Explanation: In order to spread the load of new registrations, the HFS team change the server on which new accounts (aka nodes) are registered. [Odd numbered HFS servers (OX_HFS_B1, OX_HFS_B3, OX_HFS_B5, OX_HFS_B7) are for desktops; even-numbered (OX_HFS_B2, OX_HFS_B4, OX_HFS_B6, OX_HFS_B8, OX_HFS_B10, OX_HFS_B12, OX_HFS_B14) are for servers.] One user may therefore have accounts spread over several different HFS servers. If a user de-registers an old account from, say, OX_HFS_B3, and re-registers, then the new account may come out on, say, OX_HFS_B7, if that is where new registrations go. When he/she tries to install, the backup client software installer will pick up on all the old settings it finds in dsm.sys/dsm.opt and will try to contact only OX_HFS_B3. But, that account has been deleted/de-registered on the OX_HFS_B3 server and so the installer finds no account there. So the OX_HFS_B7 account will be ignored by the installer and the user can’t run backup client software.

9.5. What do I need to do if my machine is being renamed and/or moved?

Your backup is unlikely to be affected if your machine is physically moved, even if it moves to a different part of the university network. However, if it is renamed and it is also running Windows, then it is likely that it will resend all its data, which may cause your account to be locked.

9.6. How secure is the backup client software ?

For a discussion of the various aspects of this subject, please see our page on backup client software security.

9.7. What are filespaces?

Filespaces within the backup client software are typically subsections of the machines that have previously been backed up. For example a machine (desktop, laptop or server) may have several physical or logical disks contained with them - these would locally be seen to as c:\, d:\, e:\ etc. As the backup is required to run with some administrative privileges it backs up the data using Administrative shares that access directly into the root of each drive letter whilst using the UNC for the client, these are generally seen as \\mypcname\c$, \\mypcname\d$, \\mypcname\e$, etc.

For windows clients, a filespace referred to as \\mypcname\c$ is the same as the local C:\ drive on the machine called MYPCNAME.

9.8. Which version of the backup client software am I running?

  • If you are using the Graphical User Interface (GUI) click on Help and choose About TSM. The screen will display the relevant information, such as Version 6, Release 4, Level 0.0. Click the screen to close it and return to the TSM hub window.

On a Mac, you can alternatively select [Tivoli Storage Manager] > [About Tivoli Storage Manager] from next to the Apple logo (i.e. at the top left corner of the screen). Please note that this does not always give correct results: if you do this after having run TSM Tools for Administrators (which is the recommended method of running TSM on a Mac) then you will be told that you have TSM 1.0; if you do not run TSM via TSM Tools for Administrators, then TSM 6.3 and 6.4 will mis-report that you are running TSM 6.2.

  • If you are using the Command Line Interface (CLI) you should, on starting the client see the Version, Release and Level displayed above the tsm> prompt.

9.9. How can I check that my backup was successful?

There are several ways to check that your backup was successful, whether you only back up manually, only use the automatic schedules, or both. Please see further our page on how to check that backups ran successfully.

9.10. What limits are there on use of the HFS?

In order to provide a reliable service for thousands of users we have to apply some limits on daily usage of the HFS so that a small number of users do not adversely affect the service for everyone else. These include a daily transfer limit (see 9.11. How much data can I back up?) and the following:



Maximum Backup Session Duration

10 Hours

Minimum Transfer Speed

Average of 10KB/sec over 2 hours

Maximum File Size

Same as Daily Limit (below)


If you exceed one of these limits then you will receive a mail headed "HFS backup cancellation report": if this occurs please see our section on HFS backup cancellation reports.

9.11. How much data can I back up?

The HFS limits data uploads by imposing a daily quota. If you exceed this amount then your account will be locked out - this is necessary in order to ensure fair use of the HFS. The limits are as follows:




Large server

Daily backup quota





The total data backed up by a node in a 24 hour period is not allowed to exceed the daily backup quota. That 24 hour period is linked to the operation of the HFS service but typically starts in the early hours of the morning.

If you exceed the daily transfer limit then you will receive a mail headed "HFS backup cancellation report": if this occurs please see our section on HFS backup cancellation reports.

If you need to send more than the daily limit then you can stage your backups by limiting the amount that you send each day. If you need to do this, please see the FAQ item 9.12. How can I limit the amount of data that I'm backing up?.

Unfortunately we cannot accept more than the daily limit for each account. This is because of the way in which newly-received data is processed: it would delay our daily processes the next day if we were to receive an excessively large amount for a single account.

In addition to the daily limit, there is a limit on the size of a single account, which should not exceed 10TB.

9.12. How can I limit the amount of data that I'm backing up?

You can limit your manual backups by stopping the upload before it reaches the daily limit.  This cannot be done on the command line, but only in the Graphical User Interface.

  1. Start a manual backup.
  2. In the Task List window, click on Report; this opens a Backup Report window that shows the running total (listed as Bytes Transferred).
  3. When the total is approaching the limit, close the Backup Report window and click on Stop in the Task List window.

9.13. What does and doesn't get backed up to the HFS?

The backup client software will inspect your local hard drive(s) and any locally-attached external drives and by default will back up all the files that it finds there. However, for a variety of reasons, some files are excluded from backup: a list of these excluded files can be found on the HFS Policy Pages. If you wish to change the default settings to exclude certain files, folders or drives from backup, please see our page on how to exclude files, folders and drives from backup.

9.14. How many copies of my files are kept, and how long for?

The HFS keeps up to two copies of any one file that is backed up. For information on how long files are held for, please see section 9.18. How long do you keep data for?.

9.15. What does "always incremental" mean?

The backup service provided by IT Services creates a copy of your active files. This is achieved through incremental backups.

Incremental backups mean that we only take copies of the data that has changed since the last time a backup was taken, and we then add this to the existing data that has been backed up.

  • New Files: New files are backed up during the incremental backup and added to the backup set.
  • Changed Files: If a file that has been backed up once is then modified, then the original file is retained in the backup but marked as inactive, and the modified version is backed up and marked as active; only the currently version and the previous version are retained in the backup.
  • Deleted Files: If a file that has been backed up once is then deleted from your file system, then the file is flagged as inactive during the backup process. This file will still be held in the backup dataset for 90 days, at which point it will be removed and no longer be available to restore.

9.16. What should I do if I can't back up for several weeks/months?

If you do not back up for four weeks then you will receive a warning mail headed 'Old data on the HFS'. Another will be sent after ten weeks of inactivity, warning you that your data will be deleted in four weeks' time. After that point, if we have received no response, then the filespaces/accounts listed in the second e-mail will be deleted. More information about these mails can be found at Standard TSM emails: old data on the HFS.

Perhaps, however, you are unable to run a backup because e.g. you are out of Oxford or away on leave. If that is the case and you cannot run a backup for more than two months, please contact hfs@ox.ac.uk and let us know the reason, and also the date when you will be able to back up again. We will then put your data on hold until that date.

9.17. When is the HFS available?

Generally, the HFS service is available 24/7. However, as with all systems there is from time to time a requirement to update the software and device firmware that underpins the service. Where this requires limiting access to some or all elements of the HFS Service, such interruptions will be advertised to the itss-announce maillist and on the IT Services Status Page, where real-time availability of all IT services can be checked.

9.18. How long do you keep data for?

The answer to this question falls into two parts. Data that has been backed up to the HFS is, if it still exists on the local disk, retained as long as the drive/partition that sent it continues to back up to the HFS. Data from drives that have ceased backing up for 90 days is subject to deletion, in accordance with our deletion policy; up to three warning e-mails are sent before such deletion occurs.

Secondly, data is also subject to our data retention policy. The HFS backup service is intended to secure your current work and consequently, a maximum of two versions of any particular file on your local system are kept: the current version (known as active) and the penultimate version (known as inactive, and backed up before the current version was created). If a third (or subsequent) copy is made of the file, at the next backup the oldest copy held is deleted, the current one held becomes the oldest, and the very latest becomes the current copy. In cases where a file has been deleted from the local disk, the following maximum retention policy applies:

Desktop/laptop backup policy
  • Maximum number of versions of any one file kept = 2
  • Maximum retention of the second (oldest) version of a file = 28 days
  • Maximum retention of the most recent version of a file = 90 days
Server backup policy
  • Maximum number of versions of any one file kept = 2
  • Maximum retention of the second (old) version of a file = 90 days
  • Maximum retention of the most recent version of a file = 90 days
TSM for Virtual Environments backup policy
  • Maximum number of versions of any one virtual machine kept = 14
  • Maximum retention of the previous 13 versions of a virtual machine = 14 days
  • Maximum retention of the most recent version of a virtual machine = 21 days

9.19. How do I back up my Nexus e-mail?

All data covered by the Nexus groupware backup solution - including e-mail, calendars and SharePoint data - is backed up automatically to the HFS, directly from the Nexus servers. There is therefore no need for Nexus users to back up such data using a standalone backup client.

For details on the backup and restore of data held on Nexus, see the Nexus (Exchange) service level description.

9.20. My account is locked - when can it be unlocked?

If you send more than the daily limit, then your backup account will be locked. You will be notified of this with an automated e-mail. Desktop/laptop accounts, and server accounts registered within the last 28 days, will be unlocked automatically. This usually happens the next day: generally, nodes cannot be unlocked on the day that a lockout occurs because we need to wait for data to be moved from disk to tape before we can unlock an account.

To find out when your account will be automatically unlocked you first need to find out which HFS server it is that your machine backs up to. To do this go to the HFS Portal and select the node name and you will see the server name in the Summary tab. Each HFS server has its own time for automatic unlocks. The times when accounts are automatically unlocked are as follows:


HFS server

Account type

Time of automatic unlock

Period of grace unlocks after node registration


Desktops, laptops


Always unlocked




28 days




28 days


Large servers


28 days


Large servers


28 days




28 days


If your account is not eligible for an automatic unlock and you request that it be unlocked, then it will not be possible to unlock your account before the appropriate time the next day. So, for example, if you run a backup for a desktop/laptop account on Monday afternoon which causes the account to be locked, then it cannot be unlocked before 10:00 on Tuesday.

9.21. Why am I not allowed to back up files with time- or date-stamps in their names?

The HFS keeps up to two copies of each individually-named file. If, therefore, a file is backed up more than twice, then (as designed) the HFS only retains the two most recent copies. However, if a series of unique filenames are used to name new versions of existing files then, when they are deleted at the client end, the maximum retention policy applies. This means that, for example, if an HFS server node backs up files with date-stamps in the names of the form database-2018-01-01, database-2018-01-02, database-2018-01-03 and so on, then these files are retained on the HFS for 90 days even if they have been immediately deleted at the user end after backup. Such files quickly accumulate on the HFS, leading to a bloated account containing 90, rather than two, copies of a file.

The solution to this problem is for reused rather than unique filenames to be used at the client end. So, in the above example, one could call the files database-monday, database-tuesday and database-wednesday. Since two copies of each individually-named file are held on the HFS, this would lead to two copies of each individually-named file being retained, and therefore 14 days' worth of backups (rather than 90) being kept on the HFS.

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