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Further Information

1. The HFS service

The HFS is an Oxford University centrally funded service providing data backup and long-term archive services to senior members, postgraduates and staff. The name HFS was originally an abbreviation for Hierarchical File Server. However that is no longer an accurate description of the service and HFS should now be considered as simply a name rather than an abbreviation of anything.

The HFS makes use of IBM's Spectrum Protect software (previously known as Tivoli Storage Manager, or TSM) running on the AIX operating system on several IBM Power servers to provide more than a dozen virtualised Spectrum Protect servers.

The HFS is widely and extensively used throughout Oxford. In the 7 days up to 06 July 2020, 3,904 clients accessed the backup and archive servers in 50,372 sessions, sending 97.5 million files and 95.9 TB of data. In total the backup and archive servers currently hold 4.9 billion files and 3,958.5 TB of data.

We welcome any comments or suggestions about the service. Please contact us at

2. How it works

Your data is sent from your computer across the university network to the HFS servers and is then ultimately stored on magnetic tape in an automated (robotic) tape library. Our servers and tape libraries are situated in data centres within Oxford. Three copies of your data are made, each to separate tapes: one copy is held in an automated tape library while two copies are stored separately in fire-proof safes located elsewhere (in the UK). Access to the data is private to the owner and is normally available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The tape library is an IBM TS3500 model and contains 34 latest generation 3592 drives. It currently offers an operational capacity of around 10PB for the online copy. Expansion frames and road-mapped advances in tape technology should allow this to reach 30-40PB over the next decade.

3. Statistics

Statistics on data intake etc can be seen on our statistics page.

Written by IT Services. Latest revision 13 December 2018