Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

How to protect your files

Data store​​d on desktop computers

Any data stored directly on a desktop computer (eg /Users/Shared, /Users/myname) is NOT backed up by WIN IT. It is at risk of hardware failure, ransomware attack and computer theft. Should we need to re-install/upgrade the computer's operating system, the presence of data on this disk can significantly increase the time necessary to carry out this work. We strongly advise against storing data here, but where this is unavoidable, we can arrange for backups to the University backup system. There are two options:

  • HFS CrashPlan (Code42) - for single-user computers
  • HFS TSM - for computers used by several people

Alternatively or additionally you can discuss with IT the use of an external encrypted hard drive for backup.

If you use a virtual machine on your computer, backup software typically excludes these files. It is usually best to backup important files in the VM rather than the VM disk(s) as a whole. Most virtualisation software supports the creation of 'snapshots' which allow you to take backups of a VM state, but these do not protect the VM content from loss of the device holding the VM image.

You may be storing your important files and data in a University approved cloud application for example Nexus 365 OneDrive. OneDrive will sync your files to the cloud storage and well as your local computer's hard drive but you should not consider this a backup. Microsoft retain a limited number of historical copies. It is recommended that you also perform regular backups using one of the methods described below. You must take into consideration the selective sync/cloud only files functionality of OneDrive - your local back can only backup files that are on your computer. See the OneDrive page for details on file recovery and options for protecting these files.

Data s​tored on laptop computers

  • Consider the University HFS CrashPlan (Code42) cloud backup -  CrashPlan (Code42) is now the recommended option for single-user workstations and laptops containing a modest amount of data. It is possible to install on Windows, Mac and Linux. Once installed CrashPlan runs regularly in the background automatically backing up new and changed files.   If you have an Oxford SSO you may backup a maximum of four computers. There is a practical limit of approximately 5TB/computer. The backups are stored in the  in the CrashPlan  cloud data centre.  CrashPlan had been cleared for use by Oxford University Infosec. Data is encrypted in transit. You may install on work and personally owned computers.
    The University have in-depth documentation at

    At time of writing we are aware of an installation issue where it appears the account performing the installation and registration must have full administrative rights. If you are following best practise your regular day-to-day account will be a non-admin standard account. You may need to temporarily upgrade your account from standard to administrator and then downgrade to standard once the installation is complete.

  • Consider the University HFS Spectrum Protect backup service. This is the recommended option for multi-user computers.  This is a University data-centre hosted, disk-based backup. Unlike Code42 CrashPlan it does not run continuously.  The scheduled automatic backup is weekly for desktops and laptops, but takes place overnight, so it is fairly unlikely that this will ever run as the computer has to be connected to the University network (broadband connections are not allowed) when the backup slot occurs (usually after 8pm on a weekday). Therefore, you should remember to run the backup regularly yourself. It possible to run manual backups remotely over the Oxford University VPN.
    Versioning is currently limited to seven versions of any one file at any time with older versions retained for 90 days (the most recent backup version is retained for as long as it exists on the machine).

  • Consider using the built-in Time Machine backup system on a Mac - Mac OS includes a built-in backup solution called Time Machine. To use this all you need to do is attach an external hard drive to your computer and agree when asked if you would like to use this disk for backups. Once the initial backup completes, whenever the disk is connected, the computer will run a backup every hour. If disaster strikes then you can recover an individual file from specific time/dates or even restore everything to a new disk/computer. Please ask for advice on purchasing a suitable external hard drive. It is very important that any portable storage drive is encrypted to protect again theft and loss. If your drive does not have built-in automatic encryption you must select the option to 'Encrypt backups'. It is possible to use Time Machine simultaneously with multiple backup drives. You may wish to consider rotating drives keeping one at work and one at home. You should not leave your only backup drive with the computer in case of theft.
    You may also consider additionally using the University backup systems previously described as a 'off-site' backup

    Time Machine encrypt disk

  • Copy files to the FMRIB file servers - You can setup WinSCP or CyberDuck to synchronise a folder with your FMRIB server storage, so keeping a copy in a more highly protected location.