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Self-managed backups

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Backing up self-managed machines using TiBS

WARNING! Until we upgrade to the next major version of TiBS, we cannot backup Macs running Mac OS Sierra. Do not upgrade your Mac if backing it up is important to you!

Users can back-up their self-managed Linux, MacOS, and Windows machines using the TiBS backup software currently used to back-up the School's commodity disk space. Use of this service requires the installation of client software on your machine (done by the user), and the authorisation of your machine to the backups server (done by Support). This document covers how to complete these steps.

Note To install the client software on a self-managed machine, you will need administrator rights on that machine. Please ask Support if you are unsure about this.

Accessing and installing the client software

The client software (for current and earlier versions) for all supported platforms can be found in the School's AFS file space at:


The current version is, and relevant files will be found in the top-level directory. Earlier versions are in the version-numbered directories (eg "2606").
If, for any reason, you cannot mount AFS file space on your machine, Support will be able to lend you the appropriate medium containing the installation software. Alternatively, you can access the software via


During the installation process, you will be asked to supply the host name of the client you want to be backed-up. What hostname you supply will depend on whether your machine has been allocated a fixed IP address or picks up a random IP address via DHCP every time it is connected to the network. If you're not sure whether your machine has a fixed IP address or not, Support will be able to help you out.

If your machine does have a fixed IP address, simply supply the fully-qualified hostname of your machine. If your machine does not have a fixed IP address allocated to it, it is - in TiBS jargon - a "roaming client", and the hostname supplied can, in theory, be any random string which is unique to the server. In practice, we strongly recommend that the hostname you choose should have the form "roaming-<your-username>". If you have more than one roaming client to back up, add an appropriate digit at the end. If your machine is a roaming client, you must initiate backups yourself, they will not happen automatically. See below for more details.

OS-specific installation instructions

Obviously, installation instructions vary from OS to OS. Below are instructions for the supported OSes:

Activating and Running backups

Getting Support to activate your machine on the backup server

Contact Support asking them to enable TiBS backups on your machine, and supply them with the following information:

  • The fully qualified name of your machine or if your machine is a roaming client, the hostname you chose when installing the client software
  • Whether your machine has a fixed IP address or is a roaming client
  • The path(s) which you would like backed up.

Please note that this service is not intended for backing up entire machines. It is also not a mechanism for backing up your photo and music collections (unless of course they are a vital part of your School-related activities). Please be selective about what you ask to be backed up. At the moment we will back up a maximum of 5GB per machine, and if we detect that we are backing up significantly more than that from your machine, backups will be suspended and you will be asked to reduce the amount being backed up.

Running backups

If your machine is NOT configured as a roaming host and is connected to an Informatics wire during the backup window (which is roughly between 10PM and 10am), then it will be backed-up automatically every night as part of the normal backup schedule. If the host IS a roaming client or is not attached to an Informatics wire during the backup window, then users must initiate the backup themselves.

On Linux, this is done by bringing up a command window, cd'ing to the TiBS directory and running the command "./tera -l".
On Windows Vista and 7, you will need to bring up a command prompt with administrator rights for this to work correctly.

Users may wish to automate this process via a cron job or similar.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell which directories will be backed up on my machine?

On a Linux machine: from the TiBS directory run the command "./tera -q". This will print a list of all the paths which are configured for backup on your machine.

On a Windows machine: "cd" to \Program Files\Teradactyl\TiBS, and run "tera -q".

How can I be sure that my data is being successfully backed up?

On a Linux machine: from the TiBS directory run the command "./tera -Q"; on a Windows machine: "cd" to \Program Files\Teradactyl\TiBS, and run "tera -Q".
This will print out details of the current state of backup on your machine and the time of the last backup for each path defined on your machine. Note that if a backup has the state pending, this means that the data has been sent to the backup server but has not yet been written to tape. If this is the case, the date of the last backup may be wrong or may be recorded as unknown. This will be corrected when the data is written to tape (which may take a few hours).

What if I need to get any files restored?

Currently this needs to be done by Support. Please create a support ticket containing details of your machine name, the names of the files you would like restored and the date you would like them restored from. Please note that the time taken to restore your files may vary depending on the current status of the backup server but we will respond to your request as quickly as possible.

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