Electronic Data Storage and Retrieval
This document addresses the College's approach to the storage,
retrieval and disposal of electronic data in order to assure that
reliable system operations, along with
privacy and security concerns, are appropriately addressed.
It does not address the archiving of historically important information.
The College operates a large number of different host computer
systems. The backup procedures vary among these systems.
A detailed description of all these systems is not represented here.
System backups are maintained for the recovery of catastrophic system
or disk failure. The general strategy is to copy material from
one set of disks to another set of disks which are usually on a different
computer system. Often these copies are made daily.
In some cases, the all or portions of the disk-to-disk copies are
copied to magnetic tape.
[Revision notice: as of the end of 2012, the use of magnetic
tape was abandoned. Tape backups referred to below were changed
to using the UNIX program, "rdiff-backup" for full system/incremental backups.]
Archival backups are copies of materials made at a specific time
and kept for some period of time. They are
"snapshots" of information at a particular time.
The retention interval, if any, varies depending on the requirements
for the retention of the contents.
Recovery and retrieval
Since no backup system can be perfect, we cannot absolutely
guarantee that your files can be completely recovered in the event of
catastrophic disk failure.
In the event of accidental deletion of information, it is sometimes
possible to recover individual files from backups. There can
be no guarantee that recover is possible. If such a situation
occurs, the chance of recovery is best if attempted within 24 hours.
System backup procedures do maintain files on tape. These backups are maintained
for system recovery and are not maintained for the recovery of specific
information that is accidently removed.
While such recovery is done
(especially for critical College or academic data),
it can be time consuming and is not a service that is routinely
offered; and it may not be possible, depending
on when the information was lost in relation to the backup schedule.
There is no obligation to attempt or succeed in any recovery attempt.
It is impossible to selectively delete any file that
is already stored on tape.
Backup procedures for specific systems or functions
Email inboxes are backed up to disk on a daily basis. After two to four days
these files are written over.
Saved message folders in individual home directories (including email
folders other than the inbox), departmental network folders,
central application (ERP) systems, and the main College web pages
are backed up both to disk and to tape.
The full system tape backups for the personal file/email server (MHC) and for the
general fileserver (AMBR) occur about quarterly and are retained for
at least a semester and normally for a year. Daily and weekly incremental backups
are done between full system backups. Weekly incremental backups are generally
retained for 2 months.
Central application systems (ERP Datatel and Lawson) undergo full system
backups on a daily basis and data are written to tape.
Tape backups of the ERP systems are stored in off-campus locations.
Other application systems such as Student, Human Resources, Financial, Financial
Aid, Learning Management, Content Management, eThesis, and various other systems
supporting the College are backed up to disk on a daily basis.
Backup disks and tapes that have reached the end of the retention cycle are
overwritten with more recent backup information or destroyed.
Backups are made for purposes of restoration in the event of a system failure (to the
individual desktop server or to a larger departmental or institutional server). They are not
intended to provide ready access to or recovery of individual files or records.
Since backups are maintained for the recovery of catastrophic system
or disk failure, we do not maintain archival copies of material
For your personal and academic work, it is a good idea to maintain
on your own computer or other personal storage devices. This
permits you, for example, to go back in time to view a document
as it was at an earlier stage of a project.
In the event of notice of possible litigation
If a written claim or complaint, subpoena, or other formal demand is
made against the College for which documentation that could support
or refute such a claim exists in the College.s computer system (e.g.,
emails, written records or financial records), the manager receiving
the claim shall notify the
Privacy/Security Task Force
as to the particulars
of the claim immediately. The Task Force will work with
appropriate campus officials (e.g., the Director of Human Resources,
the Dean of Faculty, the Dean of the College, the Director of Risk
Management) to notify those involved that any files associated with the
event cannot be destroyed and perform targeted backups of the files of
involved parties to assure that they are preserved.
Information that employees or students store on a local computer (e.g.,
C: drive) or other local media (e.g., CD.s or flash drives) should also
be retained and backed up to a secure location on a College server. All
paper records are also required to be kept and produced if required
by legal action or demand. Employees are prohibited from destroying
any data upon notice of a potential claim. Deliberate destruction of
identified data is a serious offense, and any person who deliberately
destroys identified data will be subject to disciplinary action including
termination of employment.
THE Campus Privacy and