010: HOW DO I KNOW MY FILES AND DATA ARE BEING BACKED UP?
If you back up your own files, then they are being backed up. It’s that simple. Back up all your own data to your own media frequently.
Your best defense against data loss is to store duplicate data in at least two places, preferably three (on a computer, on an external hard drive you control, and in a cloud storage repository). If your files are critical, or would require much time and effort to replace — for example, a draft thesis or dissertation — then keep at least one backup copy at another physical location to protect against fire, theft, and other catastrophic threats. Two (or more) backups add safety.
Backup strategies may include cloud storage (Google Docs, Dropbox, and the like) or local storage (a USB hard drive of some kind, a local computer) or a mix. Private, proprietary, or confidential information should be encrypted (SpiderOak is one such encrypted cloud storage provider). If you would like help formulating a reliable strategy for your own local backups, please submit a request for assistance to the Mines Help Center at http://helpcenter.mines.edu. Be proactive about your own data.
When you leave Mines, all your accounts and data will be suspended, then deleted, very soon afterward. Once suspended, any e-mail sent to your @mines.edu or @mymail.mines.edu address will be rejected. All messages, contacts, and other data stored in your account will be removed. This includes any shared documents. You are responsible for any backups of account data contained within your Mines or MyMail accounts. We do not keep copies of messages and can not restore account data once the account is removed. Even if you return at some point in the future we will not have copies of your data. Please make the appropriate backups and transfer any shared documents prior to leaving Mines. Please be sure to unlink any associated logins before the removal date. No exceptions or extensions are possible.
Obviously, if you store data on a local hard drive — such as your own personal computer — your files are not being backed up by ITS. When it comes to Mines computer labs, local “scratch” directories on lab machines are generally wiped on a daily basis. Again, if information is important to you in any way, make a backup copy (or two) for yourself, on your own media, and store the copies securely.
If your files and data are sensitive — part of a private industry or government study, for example — encrypt your backups as well. (How to do so is beyond the scope of this FAQ. Talk with us about your needs and we’ll help you find a convenient solution.)
You can archive your own important data locally if you have a CD or DVD writer, flash drive, or an external hard drive (obsolete technologies like floppy disks are not reliable and are not recommended). You can also copy your data over the network to another computer, or even to a computer at home. Mac users have the Time Machine backup program built into the operating system (if you use Apple’s Time Capsule as your backup destination, please read these notes about how to set it up properly on campus: /faq127). In summary: Be certain that your data files exist in more than one location and update them regularly.
Want to know more? Here’s a primer on data backup: https://faqfinder.mines.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/314/2020/08/OUCH-201508_en.pdf
Backup policies for Mines researchers: https://ciarc.mines.edu/data-management/orebits/