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Safe Computing
 

Backing Up Your Data

Regular backups of the data on your computer or mobile device is a vital part of any security plan. Your data is probably the most important aspect of your system, and no matter how carefully you protect it problems can arise that cause irreparable data loss.

IMPORTANT: CUMC requires that sensitive and confidential data on any media - whether USB key, external drive, CD/DVD, smartphone etc. - is properly encrypted and password-protected. It also cannot be stored with an external vendor such as Apple's iCloud or Dropbox that do not have a Business Associate Agreement with CUMC. CUMC IT network drives meet encryption storage requirements.

What is a Backup?

Backing up your data simply means saving copies of your necessary files and folders such as word processing documents, email folders, pictures, contacts, and other information.

What other files should I include?

When running a data backup, the operating system and programs on your system are typically not included since you should have kept copies of the original installation files when you obtained them. If no discs were included for your Windows computer, be sure to create recovery or repair discs yourself as soon as possible.

How do I run a Backup?

There are a number of ways to do a backup, but the simplest for the average computer user is to run a backup feature that is part of the system's operating system. Windows and Macintosh have built in back up programs that can automate this for you, select the appropriate link below for tutorials.

  • Windows - go to Backup and Restore in the Control Panel
  • Macintosh - select Time Machine from System Preferences

For additional information on using Windows or Macintosh backups, please see CUIT Security's Backing Up page.

Backups for mobile devices can vary greatly. Some use a syncing program installed on your computer (ex: iTunes for iPhone and iPad), while other don't have a common method. See your device manufacturer's website or look for a backup app that has been approved by a reliable source.

Backup Media

It's important to consider what's available to you for storing your backups. The most common options are listed below, and be sure to review our Encryption recommendations site if you are backing up any confidential or sensitive information to meet CUMC requirements and Federal regulations on data security.

  • Network Drives
    If you use a CUMC department-owned computer, you most likely have a network drive you can use for backups. Network drives managed by the CUMC IT Server Support group are regularly backed up by our server technicians, so recent copies of data you save on the drive will be available for emergencies. Make sure this is the case with any network drive before relying on it for your primary backup storage space.
  • Removable media - CD/DVD, USB flash drives, external hard drives
    When running a scheduled backup or simply saving copies of files, you can specify that you'd like to save data or files to removable storage such as a disc or USB key (also called Memory Stick or Flash/Thumb Drive). Rewritable media such as USB keys are not the best option for permanent storage, since there is a chance of overwriting older files that you may still want. It's also a good idea to store your important backups that are on removable media at a different location than your computer, so that any disaster in one location will not be a permanent loss of your files.
  • Hard drive partitions
    Operating system backups often give you the option to save to a different partition on the hard drive, if your drive has more than one partition. This can be useful if the OS on the main partition crashes and you have to reformat (overwrite and reinstall everything) that part of the drive, but means you lose that backup if the entire hard drive is damaged, lost or stolen.

Backup Options
Most backup programs offer the three different options listed below. When manually copying files and folders, you can also create these options by keeping track of the date of your backups, and then searching for changes to the files and folders that were made after the latest backup. It's also important to keep in mind how much space you have to store backups, and how long or involved restoring data from the different types of backups may take.

  • Full backup
    A full backup copies all of your necessary data, due to this it can require a lot of storage space and a long time to both save and restore if need be. Once the first full backup is done, it's generally better to run differential and incremental backups at regular intervals.
  • Differential backup
    A differential backup saves files which have been changed or added since the last full backup.
  • Incremental backup
    An incremental backup saves files which have been changed or added since the last backup, whether full or differential.

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Last updated 7/24/2013

 
 
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