Backup My Data

Backup My Data

Backup data to avoid losing important files

SAVE IT: set up your backup plan

Why is it important to backup your data?

Most people have experienced losing data at some point in their lives. Computer hard drives can crash, smartphones can be stolen, soup can be spilled on laptops, and software viruses or malware can delete your files. If you are not regularly backing up your data, you could lose important files forever.

Backing up files is the process of making extra copies of data in case the original is lost or damaged. Backups can either be automated or manual.

If you have files that you consider vital to your work or life and that cannot be easily replaced, creating a backup is essential to ensure that your digital data remains protected in the event of loss or damage.

1How do I backup my data?

Option 1: UBC Network Storage (Recommended)

Faculty and staff at UBC have a few options for saving files securely.

UBC faculty and staff are automatically allocated a home drive during the onboarding process. The best advice is to get into the habit of saving all of your files to your Home Drive.

Vancouver Campus

On the Vancouver campus, the Home Drive is usually the H Drive.

Note: If you are using a Windows-based computer and have files on your Home Drive, you can always make files or folders available offline by right-clicking on the file or folder and selecting “Always available offline”. Following this additional step, you can store files in your Home Drive and have them automatically backed up/synched when you have reconnected to the network. As per FIPPA (BC Law) and UBC Policy, remember to ensure that your laptop is encrypted.

Okanagan Campus

On the Okanagan campus, the Home Drive is usually the F drive (Novell).

Files saved onto UBC network storage solutions TeamShare, or Home Drive) are automatically backed up on a nightly basis. Using a UBC-approved service for storing and sharing documents with personal information is important because these services are hosted in Canada, making them FIPPA compliant.

Option 2: External Drives

Using a UBC network storage solution is highly recommended to ensure your files are effectively backed up. But, if you don’t choose to back up your files through a UBC network storage solution, you could also use an external hard drive or USB flash drive. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. However, you will need to save a copy of your data onto these external drives on a regular basis for it to be an effective backup solution, and it is always safer to use one of the UBC Network Storage Solutions.

External drives are not as robust or reliable as a UBC Network Storage Solution and they are easy to steal, drop or leave behind in an airport lounge, coffee shop, etc. For this reason, you should always encrypt your external drive to protect your data from theft or loss.

It is important to remember that you should never solely rely on an external drive to save your files. For a backup to be effective, it should be a duplicate of your data, not the only copy of your data. Do not write down the encryption password and attach it to the device or carry it with the device – it defeats the encryption.

In order to protect your data against ransomware attacks it is recommended that you do not leave your external drive plugged into your computer all of the time.

Option 3: Third Party Backup Solutions

Microsoft (MS) OneDrive is a file hosting and synchronization service operated by Microsoft, as part of their suite of MS 365 applications. MS OneDrive allows users to securely store, share, and synchronize files and folders from anywhere at any time.

You should not use third-party cloud backup solutions for university data unless a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) has successfully been completed and passed for the service. Cloud services are typically located outside of Canada, are in breach of BC laws (FIPPA), and violate UBC policies around the storage of Personal Information.

Reminder: if you save files to your desktop, try to break the habit! If the files are important enough to be quickly accessible, they should be backed up. Either place them in your Home Drive to be backed up automatically, or save them using one of the methods recommended above.

2Why can't I use Dropbox or Google Drive to backup UBC data??

UBC is subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), part of which states that faculty and staff cannot store personal information outside of Canada without written consent. Many popular file sharing services such as DropBox or Google Drive are based outside of Canada. As such, using these services to collect, store, transmit, or access personal information is a violation of FIPPA.

The UBC network storage options are Canadian-based alternatives to these commonly used services.

There are very few exceptions to this rule; please view the Disclosing personal information Outside of Canada [PDF] Privacy Fact Sheet for more information.

3How often should I backup my data?

If it would be a disaster to lose everything from last week, then consider backing up daily. If it would be a disaster to lose everything from yesterday, then consider backing up several times a day.

You could also think about creating a monthly archive, which would involve creating a copy of your data to an external hard drive or other storage media. Apart from providing another backup, this also provides a snapshot of work done.

Go even further...

For a much more in-depth look at backing up your data, you can:

Complete the full Fundamentals training to learn how to protect yourself and others
View the UBC Backup Guidelines
Compare the online storage solutions available from UBC
Learn how to encrypt USB devices and other removable media
Learn about Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA)
Read about the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA)