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Personal backups

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"Backups" are backup copies of files. This page tells you how to make backups, so that you don't lose files.

Backups on DICE

Your DICE home directory is backed up automatically. You don't need to make backups of it. If you lose a file from there, you can get it back.

Backups elsewhere

But what if you save your files somewhere else - for instance on your own laptop, or in a virtual machine? Then you should make your own backups. (Why? Your laptop could be stolen; you might leave it on the bus; its disk could fail; the building could burn down - these things have happened.)

Backup to OneDrive

A simple way to make backups is to copy your files regularly to your OneDrive. OneDrive is cloud-based storage which is provided to the University as part of Office 365. Everyone has their own OneDrive, and it can hold up to 1TB of your files. You can access it as a drive or via a web browser on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, and via a web browser on Linux.
Windows and Mac users can also have a OneDrive folder on their laptop which is automatically synchronised with their cloud-based OneDrive storage. If you can use this, do - automatic backups are great because you don't have to remember to do them.

Use a USB stick

The idea here is to copy your files to another piece of hardware, such as a USB stick. If you do this, use multiple USB sticks, and keep them in separate places, because you're bound to lose one.

Use a native backup solution

Windows 10 and macOS each have an easy-to-use backup solution built in. You should use it if you can.

Backup to your DICE filespace

A simple way to back up your files is to copy them to your DICE home directory.
To do this, open a terminal window on your laptop then type something like:

scp myfile.txt username@ssh.inf.ed.ac.uk:~

When you do this,

  • change myfile.txt to the name of the file you want to copy;
  • change username to the name of your own DICE account;
  • change ~ to the name of the DICE folder where you want to keep your backups (e.g. ~/my-backups);
  • you can use scp -r to copy a whole folder at once.

You can find out more about scp in its manual page:

On Linux or macOS you can see that by typing:

man scp

Use your DICE filespace from your laptop

File storage on DICE uses AFS. If you install AFS on your laptop, you can use your DICE home directory as if it was local storage.

Other backup solutions

There are many backup solutions for personal machines. You should look for one which:

  • is respected by reviewers
  • copies your files to some other physical location, and keeps them there securely
  • is automatic, so you don't need to remember to run it.

It's safest to use multiple backup solutions, in case one fails.

Useful software

You may find these useful:

  • MobaXterm - "Enhanced terminal for Windows with X11 server, tabbed SSH client, network tools and much more".
  • Rclone - "syncs your files to cloud storage".
  • WinSCP - "an open source free SFTP client, FTP client, WebDAV client, S3 client and SCP client for Windows".
Last reviewed: 
17/09/2020

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