Frequently asked questions about the HFS backup services
Please find here answers to some frequently asked questions. They are divided into three sections: general questions about the HFS services, questions about the CrashPlan service and questions about the Spectrum Protect service.
If you cannot find what you need to know, please contact the HFS team by email at email@example.com.
The HFS backup services are open to Oxford University staff, senior members, academic visitors and postgraduates with a valid Single Sign-On (SSO) account. Access is determined by University card status. For details see University card and IT services entitlements.
I am an Oxford University undergraduate - can I use the HFS backup services?
No, IT Services does not have the funding to supply this service to undergraduates. 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.
What happens when I retire?
If your University Card status is retired you will no longer be entitled to use the HFS backup services and your backups will eventually be deleted. If you are still doing academic work you may be able to get Academic Visitor status in which case you will be entitled and can continue to use the HFS services.
What happens when I leave the University?
You will no longer be entitled to use the HFS backup services.
If you are using CrashPlan you will lose access to your backups once your SSO login has expired. Soon after, your backups and account with the CrashPlan service will be deleted in order to release the user licence for reuse. If somebody else is taking over your computer they will have to get their own account if they wish to back it up.
If you are using Spectrum Protect your account and backups will eventually be deleted unless you or your department arranges for your backups to be transferred to someone else.
For these reasons it is advisable to plan what you want to do with your backup data well in advance of leaving.
Is every desktop/laptop machine a suitable candidate for the CrashPlan solution?
No, not every machine will be able to use the CrashPlan cloud backup service. The three main prerequisites are as follows:
The person responsible for the machine has the status of University staff, senior member, academic visitor or postgraduate, and has a valid Single Sign-On (SSO) account.
The machine is a single-user machine: The data belongs to/has been created by just one user, who is responsible for it and the machine.
The machine is running a currently supported version of Windows (Windows 11, 10 and 8.1), macOS (Mojave 10.14 and later) and any recent 64-bit Linux distribution using Debian or rpm-based packaging.
How do I register for the CrashPlan cloud backup service?
Download the HFS Hub for your operating platform from the links on the HFS CrashPlan cloud backup service page. The HFS Hub app will manage your registration with the service, then download and install the correct CrashPlan app for your machine.
Can I transfer my backups to another user?
Not easily; your backups are linked to your SSO and cannot be simply transferred to another user (SSO) without freshly backing it up again. There are two general solutions listed below:
If you wish to transfer your data (but not the computer) to another user, then the recipient needs to install the CrashPlan app via the HFS Hub on another device with enough free storage to host that data. Once installed, both you and the recipient need to contact the HFS team and ask them to restore your backups to the recipient's machine. The HFS team can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course, you don't need CrashPlan to do this, you can more directly copy data to a standalone USB drive or other storage device to the same effect. Doing this using CrashPlan does, however, allow the data to be transferred where for example it no longer resides on your local machine, or is otherwise inaccessible. It also allows the transfer of historical versions of the data, where required.
If you wish to hand a computer, and its backups, back to a department or research group or other user, then the process is as follows:
If the new owner is already a user of CrashPlan, then the current machine needs to be deauthorised. To do this the current user needs to start the CrashPlan app and either double-click the CrashPlan logo or press the keys Ctrl Shift and C simultaneously. In the window that appears, type deauthorize and hit return. If this doesn't work, then ask the HFS team to do this. Once done, the new user can sign in to the CrashPlan app on the machine in question and back it up anew. Note that the data does need to be backed up afresh, as it 'belongs' to a user account. Once done, the new owner should ask the HFS to deactivate the old user's account, and thereby free a user licence for reuse.
If the new owner is not already a user of CrashPlan, then they will not immediately be able to sign in to CrashPlan on the existing machine, since they are not yet a registered user of CrashPlan. The easiest course of action is to run the HFS Hub and use it to uninstall and then reinstall CrashPlan. The new owner will be registered for use of CrashPlan as part of this reinstall process. Then the data may be backed up anew to the new owner's new backup account by running a fresh backup (run backup now).
In both cases above, the process may occasionally fail with the symptom being the new user can authenticate via Oxford SSO login page, but the authentication is not passed back to the CrashPlan app. The app then displays a message 'Unable to login'. In this case, the .identity file (that is a dot preceding the text identity) should be deleted before retrying the login process again. The location of this .identity file is platform specific and can be found from this link.
What happens if I stop backing up?
Hopefully this won't happen as the CrashPlan app should continue to back up your selected files automatically in the background. You can check the status of your backups to the CrashPlan cloud via the HFS Portal.
How do I update the CrashPlan software?
The CrashPlan app software automatically and silently upgrades itself when updates are released by CrashPlan and the HFS Team.
Do I need to use Oxford University VPN to back up to CrashPlan?
No. Unlike the Spectrum Protect service, the HFS CrashPlan cloud backup service is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, thus you can back up over your home broadband connection just as you would over the University network. Bear in mind that your home broadband may offer a considerably reduced upload bandwidth compared to your download so initial backup speeds may be slow.
Can I use the CrashPlan service through a firewall?
You can use the CrashPlan app from anywhere in the world - you do not, for example, need to run it over a VPN. If your machine is behind a firewall and is unable to connect to the CrashPlan server, then please check with your local IT support that ports 443, 4285 and 4287 are open. It is unlikely that specific IP addresses needed to access CrashPlan cloud storage will be blocked, but for completeness, these are listed on the CrashPlan reference page that details IP addresses and ports used by the CrashPlan platform. For reference, the Oxford University implementation of CrashPlan signs into the CrashPlan console at clients.eu5.cpg.crashplan.com.
The company Code42 originally marketed their product as CrashPlan but then rebranded it as Code42. Then in August 2022 Code42 announced the creation of a separate company called CrashPlan that now provides the backup product which is once again called CrashPlan.
How does CrashPlan backup work?
The CrashPlan app constantly tracks changes (new files and edits to existing files) within your file backup selection and constructs what is essentially a 'to-do' list. Periodically (every 15 minutes by default) it then processes this to-do list for backup to the Oxford tenancy in the CrashPlan cloud (and any other backup destination you may have locally defined). This process involves deduplication, compression and encryption for secure and efficient transmission and storage of your backup data. The process is more fully described on the CrashPlan support page entitled how CrashPlan backup works.
The CrashPlan backup is intrusive while I am working on my computer.
The CrashPlan client app offers several ways of managing your backups so that they do not affect your work and other applications running on your computer. If your machine is running several applications or simply just short of CPU, then you may find the CrashPlan background backup slows other work and processes down unacceptably. In this case you can manage CrashPlan backups with limited resources. If you have limited network bandwidth, for example your local broadband connection has a poor/restricted upload bandwidth, then you can manage CrashPlan's bandwidth consumption.
Can I use CrashPlan to back up a large amount of data?
The use of CrashPlan is essentially limited by the resources available to your local computer; CPU and network bandwidth are addressed in the item above. Memory is the other critical resource. All Oxford CrashPlan clients will be version 8 and above, which means that the CrashPlan app by default will dynamically consume up to a maximum of 25% of the total memory available to your machine. As a rule of thumb CrashPlan advise that the app will require 1 GB of memory for every 1 TB of data or 1 million files. If your backup requirements are large, or the CrashPlan app is crashing on your machine due to insufficient memory, you can adjust the memory settings for the CrashPlan app.
Are there any size limits to using CrashPlan backup?
CrashPlan advise that while there are some fixed limits to the amount of backup they will support, these will be preceded by practical limits of how usable the CrashPlan backup app becomes. Generally, CrashPlan advise that once an archive approaches the 5-10 TB level, processes such as maintenance (a backend process that manages the integrity of your backups and ensures they are stored efficiently) will start to take a considerable amount of time, during which your backups will be unavailable. Restores will also begin to take considerably longer. When this actually starts to occur, it will depend in part on the structure of your data; the above practical limits will start to be met sooner where the archive consists of many, very small files than with a relatively small number of very large files.
Can I back up to another destination other than the cloud?
Yes, CrashPlan recommends that users back up to multiple destinations, for example to both the cloud and a local backup destination such as external USB drive, to add resilience and flexibility to your backup strategy.
Can I back up files to different destinations with different settings?
Yes, CrashPlan employs the concept of backup sets that allow you to do this.
Can I back up network file shares?
On Mac and Linux platforms, network file shares can be backed up, so long as they are locally mounted i.e. they are listed as a local Volume or Filesystem on the machine. Network file shares cannot be included for backup on Windows, due to a limitation with the Windows operating system.
Why are some files and folders excluded and how do I back them up?
Some files and folders are excluded by CrashPlan by default. These are indicated in the window used for selecting files and folders for backup by a small red circle to the right; hovering your mouse over the circle should confirm this. There are several reasons for these exclusions:
The items excluded are a sensible selection of system, library and temporary files that most users would not usually edit and require a backup.
Temporary files, such as cache files are, by their nature temporary and unlikely to be required for the future operation of the machine. As they are constantly changing, they would inflate the amount of data included in the regular, background backup
Including system and library files would, as above, inflate the amount of backup from each machine and the time taken to scan the filesystem for changes, potentially making the CrashPlan app less usable.
Where you do have edits and data that you are sure you want to include in your backup, then we recommend copying that data to your user area and selecting it for inclusion. You may of course wish to automate or otherwise script this process, where multiple changes take place.
How do I check my CrashPlan backups are working?
Go to the HFS Portal and from the home page click the panel 'My CrashPlan account'. This will give you a summary of all your machines backing up to the CrashPlan cloud, and will display links for further details on individual machines.
Open the CrashPlan app, choose the 'Restore Files' button, select the machine in question and then view and select files and folders you wish to inspect. More details on how to restore files can be found in the Restore section on the getting started with CrashPlan page and also via CrashPlan support pages, for example restoring files using the CrashPlan app.
Can I install the CrashPlan app on a headless setup?
The CrashPlan backup is very slow. How can I speed it up?
This predominantly affects the initial backup of a machine, as this usually represents the largest volume of data to be secured in one go. Please refer to the CrashPlan support page how to speed up your backup for a number of steps you can take and note the following below:
The Oxford default settings are 80% CPU (away) and 20% CPU (present). Remember that these figures represent the percentage of processor time that CrashPlan can use up to 100% of the processing capacity. Amending the default settings may make sense for your initial backup and any subsequent large backup, depending on how intrusive the backup is on other work your machine is doing, but the default values are likely to be optimal for the frequent small incremental backups of just changed files that will occur once your initial, large backup is complete.
The default backup frequency setting is every 15 minutes. For initial, and subsequent large, backups, this setting may be counter-productive and, as the article suggests, may benefit from being set to every several hours. Set the versioning for the first week to match the frequency setting (i.e. in the article both frequency and versions are set to every 8 hours). Once the initial and/or large backup is complete, consider reverting to the default settings (backup every 15 minutes and keep a version every 15 minutes for the first week). The golden rule is that the frequency interval should be long enough for the regular backups to complete. If you regularly download or create large files or datasets, it may be that 15 minutes is insufficient to complete the backup of these, in which case the frequency setting and first week versioning should be lengthened accordingly.
If a large backup is to run unattended, be sure to turn off any energy saving settings on your machine as per the CrashPlan Support item optimize energy settings and the relevant links from that page.
If you have restricted network bandwidth, manage any possible contention by running your backups when the network is likely to be less busy, for example overnight. You can schedule backups to occur within a certain window by opening the app, go to Settings and select the 'Backup Sets' tab and change the Backup Schedule setting (which defaults to always run 24/7). If you schedule backups to run overnight, remember to edit your energy settings as in the above item so that the machine does not sleep, hibernate or power off when unattended.
If you have a large amount of data to back up, consider staging it into 'chunks', based perhaps on priority, importance, value or other criteria of your choosing, and let the backup of each 'chunk' complete before adding a subsequent set of data to your backup set.
The CrashPlan app home screen sometimes reports that I have no files backed up and no files selected.
This is an artefact of a process called 'file verification scanning' being run by the CrashPlan app. This is essentially a second method by which the app ensures that all new, changed and deleted files in your selected areas for backup are reflected in the cloud backup store (the CrashPlan site provides a fuller explanation). This process runs once a week at 12:00 (noon) by default, if you access the CrashPlan app while the scan is taking place it can temporarily report zero bytes backed up and zero files selected for backup. For most moderately sized backups, the scan should only take a couple of minutes. If you have a very large amount of data backed up (more than 1 TB), then the scan may take longer. Nevertheless, the misreporting of these figures should be temporary.
The estimated time to completion for my initial backup is ridiculously long. Can I speed it up?
If you have a large amount of data to back up initially, at least 1 TB or more, then it may speed up the initial backup by setting the 'file verification scanning' interval to a period long enough for the backup to complete. You can change the default file verification setting on the CrashPlan web console, but please remember to change this setting back once you have completed your initial backup. Alternatively you may request this change by contacting the HFS Team (email@example.com). If your initial backup continues to proceed unacceptably slowly, please refer to the above item 'The CrashPlan backup is very slow. How can I speed it up?'.
macOS not backing up files with personal data.
Due to Apple's privacy restrictions for files and folders containing personal data in macOS Mojave 10.14 and higher, CrashPlan cannot back up files from locations like the Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Contacts, Photos, Mail and removable volumes until you grant access to the CrashPlan app. A warning message shown below might appear when starting the CrashPlan app:
As per the warning message, click the link (also here macOS_not_backing_up_files_with_personal_data) for instructions on how to allow full disk access for the CrashPlan app in order to back up files that Apple consider contain personal content. The above warning should then no longer display.
If you decide not to allow CrashPlan access to back up your personal data, and do not want this warning message to display each time, then select the 'Do not show this warning again' checkbox to prevent the warning from appearing the next time you open the CrashPlan app.
Does the CrashPlan app perform any virus or malware scanning?
No. Recommended practice is to have anti-virus software installed and up to date on all of your devices. The University provides Sophos Endpoint Agent for this purpose. Contact your local IT Support, if you do not have access to this software.
Can CrashPlan help recover from viruses and/or malware infection?
Yes, but as above, CrashPlan does no virus or malware scanning itself. It can help recovery from such a situation through the multiple versioning of files it holds in its backup store, thus allowing you to restore versions of files backed up prior to the point of infection and corruption. However, a prerequisite step to restoring your data in this situation is to ensure that you have a 'clean' system to restore to; thus you will need to have installed an up-to-date copy of anti-virus software on your machine before you restore any files back to it. This applies equally, if you are restoring your data back to a new, replacement machine. The simple guide for both of these scenarios, Recovering from viruses and malware, can be found on the CrashPlan support site.
Yes, the data you back up to the CrashPlan cloud is encrypted both in transit on its way to its destination and at rest in cloud storage using AES256 ciphers. The key is unique to each user and is maintained on each user's computer to encrypt data before sending it to cloud storage, and of course to decrypt data being restored. The key is only readable by the CrashPlan app on the user device and is automatically removed when either the user or the user device (computer) is deauthorised via the admin console.
A copy of the encryption key is also kept in the CrashPlan keystore for limited use cases: for web-based restore, when a user is replacing an old computer with a new one and wishes to restore the data to it, and when a user asks an administrator to initiate a 'push' restore to another device / computer. In all cases the key remains private to the user and CrashPlan has no visibility of it, nor the means to gain visibility. For further information on this topic see how CrashPlan handles your encryption keys.
What data does CrashPlan hold about me?
CrashPlan only knows your username (SSO login) and your name. It does not hold your email address, which is held by the HFS within the HFS Portal, or any other information about you.
Is CrashPlan suitable for backing up confidential data?
Yes. The University classifies data under three categories ; public, internal (University) data and Confidential and CrashPlan has been cleared by the IT services Information Security team for storing all three types. Where you have specific concerns or are handling data of particular sensitivity there may be separate restrictions on how and where this data can be stored. In such cases you are advised to consult with your PI/supervisor, your funding body or the Information Security Team. For reference the University’s data is stored in CrashPlan datacentres in Ireland.
Your nodename is the name Spectrum Protect uses for your computer. It is usually, though doesn't have to be, similar to the name of your computer on the network. However if you run more than one operating system on your computer you will need a separate nodename for each operating system instance. Nodenames are usually either the computer's DNS name (e.g. MYDESKTOP.IT) or a user selected name followed by a department/college suffix (e.g. MYDESKTOP-IT)
Can I register a Windows 7 Client for Spectrum Protect backup?
Maintaining support for legacy and diverse operating systems is time-consuming. Therefore IT Services no longer register nodes using Windows 7 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.
How do I change the owner and/or contact of a Spectrum Protect node?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with details of the nodes and their new owners and contacts.
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.
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 7 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.
Why are we not using the latest version of the Spectrum Protect 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.
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.
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.
An old dsm.opt was already on the client and detected and used during the installation process
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 operating systems for HFS Spectrum Protect backup via the HFS Backup Services Portal. This will give you nodenames of the form text-department/college, e.g. mywindows-exeter and mylinux-exeter. You should then obtain and install the latest Spectrum Protect software.
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 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.
Backup client passwords expire 90 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. You do not need to know the password on a daily basis. It's only needed if you need to reinstall the software or restore to a different machine in which case you generate a new password.
How do I change the Spectrum Protect password for my node?
You can reset the Spectrum Protect password for your node by going to the HFS Portal. On identifying yourself with your Oxford username you can choose the option to reset your password(s). The change will take effect immediately.
The node 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 Spectrum Protect on your machine. For instructions on doing this, see Reconfiguring the backup client.
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, How do I change the Spectrum Protect password for my node?
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).
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.
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.)
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.
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.
Can I/should I back up my OneDrive files and folders?
Should you wish for all your OneDrive files to be included for backup, you 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.
Can I change the time that my scheduled backup runs?
The service offers default 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 email@example.com if you would like the time of your scheduled backup changed.
Do I need to leave my computer on all night in order to back up?
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.
How can I stop receiving the "HFS Scheduled Backup Failure Report" when I only back up manually?
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.
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.
I've received an email with the subject of "HFS 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.
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 back up 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.
If you do not have the original machine, then please see the item below My machine has crashed - can I perform a system restore?
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.
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.
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.
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
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 limited copies of any given file - the current one, called active, and s few previous versions, 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.
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 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.
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.
Why do I need to remove the software - is deregistering not enough?
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 licence 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.
Yes. The HFS Spectrum Protect service supports VPN-based backup. 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. However performance is not likely to be good and you may find CrashPlan a better option if you need to do this regularly.
My node was deleted, so I have re-registered but Spectrum Protect is not working
The original deleted 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 nodes are registered. One user may therefore have accounts spread over several different HFS servers. If a user de-registers an old account from, say, OX_HFS_P11, and re-registers, then the new account may come out on, say, OX_HFS_P22. 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_P11. But, that account has been deleted/de-registered on the OX_HFS_P11 server and so the installer finds no account there. So the OX_HFS_P22 account will be ignored by the installer and the user can’t run backup client software.
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.
What are filespaces?
Filespaces within Spectrum Protect 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.
Which version of the backup client software am I running?
If you are using the Graphical User Interface (GUI) click on the question mark icon and choose About IBM Spectrum Protect. The screen will display the relevant information, such as Version 8, Release 1, Level 13.3. Click the screen to close it.
On a Mac, you can alternatively select [Spectrum Protect] > [About IBM Spectrum Protect] from the top left corner of the screen (next to the Apple logo). Please note that this does not always give correct results: if you do this after having run Spectrum Protect Tools for Administrators (which is the recommended method of running Spectrum Protect on a Mac) then you will be told that you have TSM 1.0.
If you are using the Command Line Interface (CLI) you should, on starting the client see the Version, Release and Level displayed above the Protect > prompt.
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.
What limits are there on use of the HFS Spectrum Protect service?
To provide a reliable service for all users, we apply some limits on the daily usage of the HFS.
Maximum Backup Session Duration
Minimum Transfer Speed
Average of 10 KB/sec over 2 hours
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.
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.
In the Task List window, click on Report; this opens a Backup Report window that shows the running total (listed as Bytes Transferred).
When the total is approaching the limit, close the Backup Report window and click on Stop in the Task List window.
What does and doesn't get backed up by Spectrum Protect?
Spectrum Protect 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.
How many copies of my files are kept, and how long for?
The Spectrum Protect keeps up to seven copies of any one file that is backed up. For information on how long files are held for, please see section How long do you keep data for?
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 current 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.
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 'HFS Backup Reminder'. 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 Spectrum Protect emails: HFS Backup Reminder.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
When is the HFS Spectrum Protect service available?
Generally, the HFS Spectrum Protect service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 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 Spectrum Protect 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.
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 Spectrum Protect servers is, if it still exists on the local disk, retained as long as the drive/partition that sent it continues to back up. 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 Spectrum Protect backup service is intended to secure your current work and consequently, a maximum of seven versions of any particular file on your local system are kept: the current version (known as active) and the six previous versions (known as inactive, and backed up before the current version was created). If an eighth (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:
Maximum number of versions of any one file kept = 7
Maximum retention of the latest version of a file = 90 days
Maximum retention of older versions of a file = 90 days
Spectrum Protect for Virtual Environments backup policy
Maximum number of versions of any one virtual machine kept = 28
Maximum retention of the previous 13 versions of a virtual machine = 28 days
Maximum retention of the most recent version of a virtual machine = 28 days
How do I back up my Nexus e-mail?
Protection of your email is handled by the Nexus service, so there is no need for Nexus users to back up such data using HFS services.
For details on the backup and restore of data held on Nexus, see the Nexus (Exchange) service level description.