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Quick facts about backups
First and foremost if your data is important it is your responsibility to ensure that it is backed up in mulitple locations.  PACS will do our best to provide the backups as listed below.  At NO TIME will be we responsible for backups on your local workstation.   IMPORTANT data should be stored on a server.  

We currently utilize UW IT cloud backup system Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM).  It has the following features:

  • Nightly backups
  • Multiple versions
  • 2 month retention cycle - If you delete a file 2 months later it is NOT recoverable.  
  • Geo-redundancy - Offsite storage/replication to Spokane, WA
How we define backups
PACS defines a backup as a system that makes a verified, physically-separate copy of your data and transports it outside of the Seattle area. Hard drives hooked up to desktops with a copy is not a "backup" because there's no guarantee of "disaster recovery." We consider this data copying and while it's effective for non-critical data (like your photos or TV shows), it does not guarantee protection for critical grant, paper, or career data.

Backups provided by departments

PACS does backups on select servers every night.  EX:  Your Unix home directories (/phys/users,/astro/users).

Additional backup services

On top of the departmental provided home directory space for staff and faculty, the department also has fee-based backups for laptops, desktops, and non-managed servers. These are the "bare essential" configurations, and depending on your data retention needs, may require more customizations. Feel free to email for more details.

Client backups

PACS currently uses CrashPlanPro provided by UW IT to do client backups.  The cost is around $95/Year and is tied to a single user/NetID.  The license and covers up to 4 workstations/devices and unlimited space/storage.
If you would like to start using CrashPlanPro, please contact the PACS team at and we will help you install and set it up.

Limitations (FOR ALL BACKUPS)

  •     We do not retain long-term archives of data, as we recycle tapes every 2 months. This means if you delete a file and forget for 3 months, it's gone
  •     We cannot provide bare-metal backups of laptops or non-managed desktops

Alternative backups

ssh and rsync

For the Unix savvy, using rsync is a fairly good way to go and does some data verification for you if you are a careful type. However, like most Unix commands, you need to experiment and read the manual to leverage it's full power. You can rsync your files from your laptop or desktop at home or abroad to your departmental home directory, where the data will be backed up on a regular basis.

Apple's Time Machine

A couple of PACS staff members and several faculty use Time Machine.   For help contact PACS.