Backing up your files protects you from data loss, whether caused by hard drive failure, accidental deletes, malware or ransomware, and even theft. If you are lucky enough to have never yet experienced a major data loss, please realize that it is only a matter of time before you do.
There are many available options for making backups, from automated systems to manual ones. Below are some options you should consider.
UT faculty and staff can use UT Backup to protect the data their University-owned machines. UT Backup provides an automated backup of your important files on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux machines. This is the recommended backup solution on campus.
UT faculty, staff, and students can also manually backup files to UT Box (additional information is available via Service Now). While this is not as reliable due to the manual nature of it (and our tendency to forget), it is better than no backups at all.
Some people are tempted to use services like Microsoft OneDrive or GoogleDrive for backing up their data. While these have many uses and may be appropriate for your personal machines and data, you need to be careful about using public services like these when dealing with University data. For University devices and data, we recommend that you stick with UT Box, as it has been blessed by the Information Security Office for storing sensitive University data.
There are also commercial cloud backups options available, which, while they do charge for their services, tend to be fairly inexpensive. Again, these are viable for personal use, but not recommended for storing any University data.
Anyone can buy an external hard drive and copy their files manually to it as a backup method. Some hard drives include software to do automated backups, as well. Most operating systems also have some backup software which can use an external hard drive as well – some of these are:
- Windows 8 and Windows 10 include the backup program File History to easily back up your data. File History takes a snapshot of your personal files and saves them to an external location such as an external USB hard drive. Once the initial backup is complete File History continuously saves all changes to the files, allowing you the option to restore from multiple versions of the same document. File History is easy to set up and a great way to protect your files.
- Windows 7 includes a Backup and Restore option in the control panel.
- Mac OS X ships with a built-in program called Time Machine that backs up all your files to an external hard drive. All you need is an external USB, FireWire or Thunderbolt drive. For added protection, enable backup encryption. This prevents backed-up files from being accessed or read without a password.
Linux users have lots of options. As mentioned above, UT Backup may be an option. Some other backup solutions that Linux users might want to look at include:
Not all backup options are equal, but any backup is better than having no backup at all! If you need help determining which backup strategy you should use, or if you need help setting up and configuring a backup strategy, please contact the CNS Help Desk at https://cns.utexas.edu/help/.
Written by Eric Rostetter, Senior System Administrator
Questions or comments? The best and easiest way to contact us is via the CNS Help Desk form.