As a replacement for our old backup system which was no longer sustainable, SSCF is now offering a cloud-based service called Backblaze. The cost for this service must be charged to departmental or research funds. Faculty wishing to use the service can work with the SSCF to arrange payment.

Note that data stored on the divisional file servers (cube/pentagon/sphere/etc.) are backed up using a different mechanism to a secondary on-campus datacenter. You don't need to use Backblaze for these files.

To get this service set up, contact SSCF. The pricing is:

  • $60 per computer per year for 30-day retention of changed/deleted files. (Slightly lower if you pay 2 years up front.)

  • plus (optional) $2 per computer per month to increase changed/deleted file retention to one year

In order to ensure you fully protect your data, there are a few things you need to take into account.

It is important to understand these items or you may not be able to recover your data!

Don't use the "Private Encryption Key" feature!

Backblaze automatically encrypts your data by default, but they also offer you the ability to set your own private encryption key. If you do this and you lose that key, neither Backblaze nor SSCF will ever be able to help you recover your data. We strongly recommend that you do not use this feature. If you do have specific data protection needs that require the use of this feature, please talk to your SSCF representative about properly testing the recovery process and confirming that you've got copies of the key stored in multiple locations.

Using this feature limits our ability to help you recover your data in the event of data loss.

Don't use the "Private Encryption Key" feature

Cloud Drive Backups

Storing data in Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive is not the same as having a backup.

There are many circumstances where data can be deleted from both your local machine and your cloud drive, including malware and ransomware that specifically knows how to do this. As such, it's important to make sure that your cloud files are also kept in your backup. With OneDrive this is relatively simple, with Google it's a bit more complicated.

Tell OneDrive to download your files locally so they get backed up.

OneDrive has a feature that only downloads your cloud-based files to your local system when you work on them. Unfortunately this means files stored in the cloud don't get included in your Backblaze backups. To ensure all of your files are backed up, you need to go into the settings and tell OneDrive to disable this feature and store all of your files locally.

Note that if you've been using OneDrive for a while, clearing this box may cause your computer or internet connection to bog down for a while as it downloads all of your files. Once this finishes your performance will go back to normal.

The other problem is of course that this requires you to have enough room on your local machine to store all of your files from OneDrive. If you don't have enough from for this, you can contact your SSCF support analyst and they can help you pick and choose which folders to download so you can ensure that those folders are backed up properly.

If you use more than one computer with the OneDrive client installed, you might also want to enable the "Backup" feature in OneDrive - this has the advantage of syncing your local Desktop and Documents folders between your machines, but it is not a substitute for a full-fledged backup solution.

Making sure your Google Drive files are backed up is more complicated.

In their usual fashion, Google supports multiple tools that do the same thing. If you want to work with Google Drive files locally on your computer, they offer two products - "Google Backup & Sync" which is aimed at consumers and "Google Drive File Stream" which is aimed at business users.

Unfortunately the enterprise version we normally use does not support being backed up by products like Backblaze. To make matters worse, the consumer version only works with your personal drive, not the "Shared Drives" commonly used by departments and labs.

It is possible to install both clients on your machine so that you can use the enterprise features while still having your personal drive backed up.

The best thing to do is probably to contact SSCF and have us help you set this up, but the important things to remember are:

  • If you have them both installed, Drive File Stream may pop up a warning asking you if you want to disable Backup & Sync. Don't do this, or your files will stop getting backed up. Instead, choose "use both" and click "don't ask again".

  • Having both products installed increases the amount of disk space used on your local computer.

  • Backup & Sync has a "backup" feature built in that you should probably leave turned off. (It can create second copies of documents on your Google drive, meaning you can end up editing the wrong one when using the web interface.)