Office Computer: Backup Options

Why Backup?

As a matter of regular system maintenance and data protection, you should be backing up your personal or critical data on a regular basis.

An attacker could crash a computer's operating system or data may be corrupted or wiped out by a hardware problem. Computers can be lost, stolen, or destroyed in a fire or other catastrophe. This is why it is essential that you always back up your important information and have a plan for recovering from a system failure.  The operating system can be reinstalled and so can applications, but it may be difficult or impossible to recreate your original data.

How often should I backup?

The answer to this question really depends upon how much data you are willing to lose. Keep the following in mind:

  • Most backup systems offer "Full" and "Incremental" backups. Performing a Full backup takes a lot of time, but if you have to completely reinstall your system, this provides the shortest path. Incremental backups are fast, but if you rely on them and need to recover the entire system, you will need to recover using the last Full backup and all the intervening Incremental backups.
  • Running an occasional Full backup and frequent Incremental backups provides the best balance of protection and speed.
  • You may not know immediately whether your files have been broken. Keeping a couple of months of backups will allow you to recover data that may have been damaged weeks ago.

What files should I backup?

This will vary depending on the user. It is recommended that you back up anything that cannot be easily restored if you were to lose the contents of your hard drive. Some suggestions are:

  • Contents of your "Documents" folder or wherever you save your work. For many, this might be the desktop or even a temporary folder.
  • Music purchased from the internet.
  • Photographs/pictures.
  • Software purchased and downloaded from the internet (e.g., any software that you do not currently have on separate media).
  • Emails, address books, web browser bookmarks.
On an institutionally owned computer, users are solely responsible for backing up and restoring data for any non-University business or personal files. IT at the University has no obligation to back up or restore personal data or applications.

What options are available to me?

The IT department can offer an automated way of backing up your personal documents from your office computer and placing them on, or redirecting them to, the UNRNAS. Please see our page on Folder Redirection.

Users wishing to perform their own backups (to CD, DVD, or external hard drive) might find the following information helpful:


Apple Mac

Hints for backup

  • Encrypt backups if containing University data.
  • Keep extra backups off-site in a secure location.
  • Verify your backups.
  • Sanitize or destroy your backups (e.g., tapes, CDs) before discarding them.
  • Use encryption when storing University data on mobile storage devices.
  • Keep University data off of external devices.