INFOBITS: Data Backup Do's & Don'ts
by Deanna Pasternak
Computer Data Backups
Whether you’re a Macintosh or Windows user, regularly backing up your data is critical in case of a computer problem. ITS recommends backing up your data regularly to external media, such as a CD, DVD, or an external hard drive. How often you backup is up to you, but the more frequently you update your files, the more frequently you should backup. Taking the time to backup every week or monthly can mean the difference between losing all of your work in an instant or only losing the work since your last backup.
Both newer Macintosh and PC computers come with built in burning software if your hardware supports burning. All you have to do is insert a CD or DVD into the drive and drag the files or folders to that drive and then burn it. If your computer doesn’t have a CD or DVD burner, you can purchase an external CD or DVD burner or you could use an external drive. External drives come in both USB (Universal Serial Bus, a connector that supports data transfer) and Firewire (A connector that supports data transfer at higher speeds), both USB and Firewire plug directly into your computer.
Remember to store your backups in a safe place, and have a copy in another location other than where your computer is located, if possible. Having an extra copy of important data in a location away from your computer would be useful in case of fire or water damage.
Always check a few files on your backup CD, DVD, or external drive to ensure that you have a working backup. If possible check the media on another computer. Check your backups often; CD’s and DVD’s can degrade over long periods of time, so making new copies is very important. Storing your CD’s and DVD’s out of direct sunlight can aid in making them last longer.
For a departmental server, you can have backups performed by ITS Contract Services for a fee. See the ITS policy regarding servers and contact information at:
On August 16, 2006, UH email quotas were increased to 250MB for students and 500MB for faculty and staff. Since this upgrade, and the amount of time necessary to back up the large amount of mail plus the effect the backup would have on mail performance, ITS cannot recover individual mailboxes. Mail is only backed up now for disaster recovery purposes; see the ITS Data Backup Policy for more details.
You can create backups of your mail and contacts for many ITS supported mail clients. See the ITS document Email and your Quota for tips on both reducing and backing up your email.
You should also remember to backup your data regularly if you are using POP to download your mail to your computer and are not saving a copy on the server. POP stands for Post Office Protocol and is the method your email application (such as Outlook or Thunderbird) uses to download your mail. In the event of a hard drive failure, if your mail is not backed up, you could lose all of your email. If you are not sure if you are using POP or not, you can check in the account settings in your email client.
UH Unix Backups
As stated in the ITS Data Backup Policy, ITS backs up user files on UH Unix (such as your www) files. These backups are only retained for 30 days. If you use your hawaii.edu account for web hosting or save files in your UH Unix account, you will want to backup these files to external media. PC users can use a program called SSH Secure Shell to backup their data via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and Mac users can use Fugu to backup data on UH Unix. These applications allow you to download files to your PC or Mac and then copy the files to CD, DVD, or external drive just like a normal file.
PC users see the following link for more information on SSH Secure Shell:
Mac users see the following link for more information on Fugu: