Backup and Archival of Data


If you have something that’s automated you never have to worry about either of these questions!

Wherever you backup, make sure to do it to more than one place! Especially if you have a backup to an external hard drive/USB drive

Backup to Google

For detailed info, please visit:

How often to backup? Is there such a thing as “backing up too often”? Tips for reminding oneself to backup files?

  • Google Drive File Stream – sync your files that you want on to your computer – all automated!
    • This may not work without Internet connectivity but there’s a way to set it up such that your files can be accessed offline if you know you won’t have Internet
  •  Google Drive Backup & Sync (less preferred) – copies to Google, not intended for constant backing up (backup every day / week)
    • You can restore a certain version that you have (i.e., if you want to access something from a previous week)

For your personal content, it is better to use your personal Gmail or Dropbox account (Dropbox can be nice if you are working with someone outside of the U of Alberta who doesn’t have Google Suite)

Another option is GitHub – you can get a free account as a student which gives you access to private repositories – especially useful for code.

Backup to Servers

Your home directory on the available servers (gilford, deneb, quadra) has several TB of available disk space (2.6TB free as of Jan. 2013). You can transfer your data using programs like Rsync, WinSCP or SSHFS. See the Transfer Files Remotely section for more details on this.


The server should be used for long term storage of research data.
Again you can use methods listed at Transfer Files Remotely to transfer your data to the server. can also be used to give read only access to the data for others if required.

Send an email to Mark Duller at to get an account on nootka.

External Hard Disks

USB (or Firewire, etc) external disks are a convenient way to backup your data. The most important thing is to make frequent backups. If the data if very important and changes often, weekly or even daily backups are recommened.

SyncToy is a simple program to backup folders and only transfer the changed files.
See this TechRepublic How-To for a quick start guide.Mac OS X
Time Machine is the recommended backup solution.Linux
Rsync as described in Transfer Files Remotely is a good way to backup files.