Computer Backup Services at Stanford Earth

Last revision May 27, 2015

Data backups are an essential component of computer security. The School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences has free backup options for faculty, staff, post-docs, and graduate students.

You will absolutely need a backup of your data files if anything goes wrong with your computer. All of the following scenarios have happened to people at Stanford Earth:

  • You deleted some "old" files but discovered later that they were crucial to your research.

  • Your hard drive fails.

  • You encrypt your computer to satisfy university requirements, but the encryption process fails!

  • Your computer encrypts correctly, but later develops a file system corruption problem. Normal disk recovery tools cannot work on an encrypted system.

  • Your computer is lost or stolen.

  • Malware ("virus", "worm", "trojan", etc) gets onto your computer and deletes files or encrypts them for ransom.

The School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences provides the following free computer backup services. Get started today!

Faculty and Staff:

Regular faculty and staff, including research staff, in the departments and programs in Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences can use the School's own in-house backup server running the CrashPlan Pro software. In the past, post-doc workstations were often added to this local server. Going forward, post-docs will use the ITS Cloud CrashPlan Pro service (see below) for any new installations.

After doing the initial full backup, the CrashPlan Pro software continuously checks for new or changed documents and copies them to the server within a couple of hours of creation, as long as you have a network connection anywhere in the world. Our server only backs up your documents, not your operating system or applications, which can be easily re-installed.

The CrashPlan Pro client can be installed on up to four computers per person that run Microsoft Windows (version 7 or 8), Apple Mac OS X (version 10.6 or later), or Desktop Linux (kernel version 2.6.13 or later). Faculty and staff submit a HelpSU request to get their computers on this backup system.

CRC will not install our CrashPlan Pro backup client on standard desktop PCs issued by the Energy Resources Engineering department, unless you have substantial files or data that do not fit on your ERE server disk allocation. Your ERE server disk allocation is already fully backed up.

This CrashPlan backup service has enough disk space to backup about 200 gigabytes of data per computer. If you have substantially more data, for example, on a lab computer, you must consult with the School system manager first before requesting installation of the client software.

Your data is encrypted before it is sent to the School's CrashPlan Pro server. You can restore data yourself (ask our CRC techs to show you how to do that when they install the client software on your computer), or CRC can do it for you if you submit a HelpSU request. If you want your data to be completely private, not accessible even to the system managers, you can set a personal password to be used for the encryption, but if you forget that password, no one can ever recover your data from backup!

Sometimes the CrashPlan Pro backup process on your computer can get stuck. You can restart it yourself by following these instructions, or submit a HelpSU request.

Graduate Students and Post-docs:

The School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences has purchased access to the central Information Technology Services cloud-based CrashPlan Pro backup service to provide free computer backups for all graduate students and post-docs in all departments and programs at Stanford Earth. This is a "self-service" program. You will follow these instructions to install the CrashPlan Pro software and perform your own file restorations when needed.

Everyone at Stanford Earth:

The School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences also provides a high performance file server with multiple levels of data protection, named, that is ideally suited to keeping crucial data safe if your computer is not backed up on the CrashPlan Pro server.

Every student, faculty, and staff member in the School has a personal "home share" on sesfs where he/she can store up to 10 Gigabytes of files. Use this home share to keep copies of your important data and files. In fact, if you work primarily on campus, file server access is fast enough that you can keep the master copy on the server and work on it directly from your computer.

Faculty and lab managers can also request a group share on sesfs to store larger data files and analyses used by a research group.

Energy Resources Engineering department members:

Faculty, staff, and students in the Energy Resources Engineering department get automatic backups of files kept on a specific drive partition of their department supplied computer. Members of that department can contact the ERE System Administrator for details.

Other backup options:

Another simple defense for your most important data and files, such as your thesis draft, is to buy a USB flash memory stick which you periodically connect to your computer and copy over your essential files. As of the date of this note, four gigabyte sized flash memory sticks are available from discount retailers for as little as $5. But don't make the mistake of a student that was publicized in the Stanford Daily. She kept her backup flash memory stick in the same case as her laptop and both were stolen. She had no other copies of her senior thesis. Keep this essential backup separate from your computer!

There are also internet based backup services that you can use to automatically backup files from your personal computer for free or a small fee. For example, check the services described in this recent MacWorld article.

There are many options for backup. The important thing is to start a backup program now!

Comments or Questions?