Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science

Archival Backup Service

Have servers or dedicated desktops that are on-premise and on our wired network? For these types of computing workloads, we offer Teradactyl's True Incremental Backup System® (TiBS). TiBS is designed specifically for unstructured data sets commonly found in research and scientific communities. Advanced time and size based synthetic backup consolidation transfers only new and changed data from the clients to the backup servers.

We provide nightly network backups for supported hosts running Facilities-supported operating systems, including:  

Important notes  

  • Hosts are not automatically placed in the backup system; backups must be specifically requested. See the section below on how to tell if a host is being backed up if you are uncertain if your host is receiving backups.
  • If you add a disk to a host, or change or rename the partitioning, you must inform us in order for the new disk or partition to be included in an existing backup routine. You can request the inclusion of a new volume or partition through Backup Routine Modification form.
  • In order to receive backups, we must be able to install the backup software on your host and it must be running the Facilities environment.

What is backed up? 

  • On Windows systems only drives of the form /N, where N is some drive letter, are usually backed up. Directories are not defined individually for backups. 
  • On Unix systems only directories of the form /usrN, where N is some number, are usually backed up. Directories in other places, such as /home are not backed up by default. We also back up the contents of /usr/BACKUP but do not back up /etc/srvtab (since backup traffic is not encrypted). 
  • Files/directories whose names match */.netscape/cache/* or */vmware/* are not backed up.
  • If you have a dual-boot machine, only the OS that is running at the time the backup system is operating will get backed up. Backups usually run from around 5:00 PM until 10:00 AM. Your machine will be backed up during some random time during that period (it cannot be individually scheduled).

Special requirements

Because we do network backups of hundreds of host’s nightly, backups for machines with special backup requirements need to be handled on a case-by-case basis. If you need backups for a host that has partitions larger than 5 TB, has a large amount of data that changes frequently, or has a very large amount of data on it (such as a large RAID array), you can submit a ticket regarding backup and options available for your use-case. 

Laptop Archival Backup

Although we highly recommend our Data Protection Service as a backup solution for laptops, we offer our Archival Backup Service as an option for laptops as well as desktops. We perform daily network backups for supported laptop computers, connected to the SCS wired network, running supported operating systems. 

Important Notes 

Laptop systems also have a backup client tool that initiates an immediate network backup. The tool is called BackupNow and can be found in the normal program area based on the Operating system of the laptop. 

Backup Scheduling 

Considering that some types of computers may not be as powerful as others (ultra-portable vs full-featured laptops vs desktop systems for example), the backup process can cause a noticeable impact of performance when it is actively running. The following is a list of four backup scheduling options: 

Laptop Polling Backups (default)

  • A polling system that runs from 6:00am to 6:00pm every day that looks for mobile computers over the SCS wired network
  • Automatically running backups
  • Warning: Laptops should be left online from 6:00am to 6:00pm

On-Demand Only Backups

  • These backups are set up so that you can initiate backups over the SCS wired network at any time that you desire
  • Warning: There are no automatic backups

Nightly Backups

  • These backups are set up so that an automatic backup over the SCS wired network happens at night
  • Warning: The laptop must be left on the SCS wired network overnight

Custom Scheduled Backups

  • These backups are set up so that an On-Demand Only backup is initiated by the laptop at a pre-determined time
  • Warning: The laptop must be left on the SCS wired network at the pre-determined time

How can I tell if my host is being backed up?

Windows: If your computer has backups enabled, you can run the LastBackup program to find out what partitions on your computer are being backed up and when the last backup was performed. LastBackup is available in the SCSBackups section of your Start Menu. Please contact the Help Desk for assistance if LastBackup is not installed or for more information about enabling backups on your computer.  

macOS: If your computer has backups enabled you may use the LastBackup script found in the /Applications folder for Mac OS 10.7 Lion and later or the /Applications/Utilities folder for earlier Mac operating systems. If the machine is being backed up this should return the last backup date. If this script does not exist or returns an error you are most likely not being backed up.  

Ubuntu Linux: You can run the program bustatus to tell whether or not a host is being backed up. The path for Ubuntu is /usr/cs/bin/bustatus. For all other Linux systems, the path is /usr/local/bin/bustatus. 

Backup Status Dashboard  

This allows you to easily see the status of archive backups (TiBS) and data protection (CrashPlan) on all of your subscribed computers. Visit the Backup Status Dashboard (requires SCS Kerberos credentials), for information on backup attempts and results. 

How to request a restore  

To request a restore complete the Data Restore Request Form. You will need the following information: 

  • Name of the machine the file(s) were located on.
  • Name of the Machine and path on the new host if there is an alternate host you would like the restored data to be placed.
  • The full path to the requested file(s). Please make sure that these are the actual paths of the file(s) and not a symlink/shortcut to them.
  • The last known dates during which the file(s) existed. If looking for a restore from a different date please provide the date you would like the restore from.

E-mail containing instructions on how to access restored files will be sent to you after the restore is complete. 

Data not in backups 


  • IBM DB2
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • MySQL-(If you are running a MySQL server, backups may not properly back up the database files, because the server may have locks in memory or other files open/locked at the time the backup occurs. If you want to be sure your MySQL database is being backed up, you should do periodic dumps (mysqldump) to a directory under /usr0 or some other nightly backed up volume.)
  • Oracle Database
  • PostgreSQL


  • Automounted - (A statically-mounted network volume will actually be mounted in /automount, and a symbolic link pointing to it will be placed where the volume would normally be mounted.)
  • Cores - (Under some conditions, when a program crashes, it stores a copy of the program state at the time it crashed into this directory. This is really only useful for programmers trying to debug their own programs.)
  • I386 - (A copy of the Windows Installation CD.)
  • Image - (An archive file of data including all the filesystem metadata, including boot code, structures, and attributes. All of this information is contained in a single file.)
  • Google - (This directory contains files, such as settings and user data, for a variety of Google programs including Google Chrome and Google Desktop.)
  • Lastlog - (A database directory which contains info on the last login of each user.)
  • Network - (This is the "real" location of the Network item that appears at the Computer level in the finder. It provides a place to attach network wide resources and server volumes.)
  • Private - (Provides an extra layer of security for confidential and/or sensitive files that you do not want to share with other people.)
  • Service Pack - (A collection of updates, fixes and/or enhancements to a software program delivered in the form of a single installable package.)
  • System Volume - (This is the disk volume that contains the hardware specific files that are needed to start the Operating System.)
  • Var - (Contains system logging and accounting, system news, preserved data from interrupted edit sessions, and files being processed by programs such as electronic mail.)


  • Cache - (AFS, Mozilla, Internet Explorer have a temporary storage area where frequently accessed data can be stored for rapid access.)
  • Deleted - (Any files that are deleted and put the operating systems trash bin.)
  • Dump - (Files that are created when an error occurs for which there is additional information that would be useful in diagnosing a problem.)
  • Encrypted - (A form of disk encryption where individual files or directories are encrypted.)
  • Swap - (A space on a hard disk used as the virtual memory extension of a computer's real memory.)
  • Temporary - (A computer file used to store information for a short time; the file is then deleted after its use. They are often stored in a temporary folder and/or with the .TMP file extension.)


  • Pagefiling - (Temporary data which is swapped in and out of physical memory in order to provide a larger virtual memory set.)
  • Spotlight V100 - (A indexing search technology on mac that can find anything on your computer or any mounted volume.)

Virtual OS

  • Parallels - A desktop based hypervisor that allows macOS users of running Windows on their Mac. Parallels is unique in the many modes of operation that it allows: a hybrid integration of Windows and its application into the macOS's functionality, or a stand-alone contained experience. 
  • VMware - (Transforms hardware into software. Use VMware to transform or virtualize the hardware resources of an x86 based computer including the CPU, RAM, hard disk and network controller to create a fully functional virtual machine that can run its own operating system and applications just like a real computer.)