Backups, best practice and a file storage recap

Lyle Docherty
Wednesday 12 April 2023

Every staff member can use the file storage options provided by the University. In some cases, you may wish to backup important files. Learn what is available for you to use so you can make sensible choices when storing and backing up your files.

File storage recap

IT Services maintain and manage the central file store, organise backups for Microsoft 365, and administrate the Microsoft solutions provided to students and staff.

Central File Store (CFS)

The central file store is a University-managed file system which includes:

  • home drives
  • shared drives
  • research shares

We have two methods to recover data stored in these areas.

  1. The first allows you to restore up to 64 previous versions of your file. You can do this yourself and don’t need to contact the IT Service Desk. Just right-click on the file in File Explorer and select ‘Restore previous versions.’
  2. The second is a three-times daily backup of everything in the central file store. This is kept for 14 weeks at a time. To restore these files, you would need to contact the IT Service Desk.

We don’t back up local files, like Desktop, Downloads and My Documents. This is because the sheer volume of data would slow down log in times for both staff and students.

Microsoft 365

Microsoft provide several cloud-based storage options to staff and students, which include:

There is a separate company which backs up Microsoft 365 for us every day.

Visit the IT website for more information about these options. We put these measures in place so staff and students don’t need to backup their own data. If you have specific requirements regarding retention policies or backup, get in touch with us.


File storage glossary and what it means for you

Backup: A separate copy of your data which can be used to restore it if the original copy is deleted. We take care of this.

Information classification: Confidential information shouldn’t be stored on personal devices and University files shouldn’t be stored in third-party platforms like DropBox. Find out more about this in our blog post ‘What is information classification?

Local storage: Anything stored to a device rather than to a server (like CFS) or the cloud (like Office 365). If you see C:/ in the file path, it’s most likely stored locally. Although it’s not forbidden to save things here, like quickly saving a photo from Google to add to your PowerPoint presentation or blog, make sure you keep important data elsewhere.

Retention period: The time which we’ll keep data for. As a rule of thumb, we’ll keep the previous 64 version of every file up for a three month period. This means if you delete a file today, we won’t be able to recover it for you after three months.

Previous versions: Anytime a change is made to a file, it saves it as a ‘previous version’. You can browse version history in shared drives. To recover a previous version of a file in your home drive, you need to contact IT Services.


Four instances when file storage location matters

Switching between classroom PCs

Local files are wiped from classroom PCs every other day. This means if you’re working on an important essay, don’t save it to Desktop. You won’t be able to get it back tomorrow. Use your OneDrive for Business instead. That way you can use whatever device, University-owned or personal, next time you want to work on your essay.

Failure, loss, or theft of your device

Similarly, if your device fails and it needs a complete reboot, you’ll only be able to retrieve files stored in Microsoft 365 and the central file store.

Cyber attack or mass system failure

When there are cyber criminals involved, your Microsoft 365 files will be protected so long as you have multi-factor authentication set up. This means if your login and password is known, they won’t be able to see your files in Teams or OneDrive for Business.

On a larger scale, IT Services endeavour to recover any data lost throughout the event which is saved in the central file store.

If you are a researcher

To request training specific to research data, visit the Research Data Management website. This includes online advice, bookable courses and how to ask for help. You may also find the University’s information security training useful.


What you can do

  • Keep important personal files in your home drive or OneDrive for Business.
  • Keep important team files in your shared drive. Once you’ve collaborated on a document in Teams or Groups, save a copy in your department’s shared drive folder.

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