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Data Protection

How is my data protected from loss?

Hardware fails, gets stolen or lost. Users accidentally delete files, introduce malware, overwrite important documents. Systems get hacked.

We believe that our storage services are much safer than using internal storage, external USB drives, or NAS devices on your desk!

1. We store your data in a secure location

Systems are stored in UPS protected, environmentally controlled data centres on the University Campus. Our data centres are physically secure and have advanced fire and intrusion detection and prevention systems. Access to these areas is restricted by card access to both the data centre and individual rack. External staff are always accompanied by IT Staff.

2. Servers do not have direct access to the internet.

Systems are accessible directly on-campus, however off campus, files must be access via our MyFiles gateway. This provides HTML access to your Windows SMB filestores.

3. Protection from user error & malware

The storage controller takes regular snapshots of your data so that in the event a file becomes overwritten, virus-infected or deleted we can recover from the last snapshot (or further back if required).

4. Protection from disk failure, corruption.

We use OpenZFS software to store your data. OpenZFS actively detects and repairs errors and ensures data is secure even when disks completely fail.

Depending on system size disks are often grouped into 10-15 virtual devices (vdevs). For each of these multiple disks have to fail simultaneously in a single system before the primary array fails. If this were to happen your data is still safe on the secondary 'mirror' system.

5. We design to reduce the risk and impact of hardware failure

Whilst we include dual network connections and power supplies, other hardware failures can occur. These larger failures can take days to resolve. In this situation we can promote the secondary mirror so that you can continue to work whilst we resolve the problem.

Around 5% of disks are predicted to fail in a 12 month period and the likelihood of a disk failing increases as the system becomes older.

The overall risk of hardware failure increases as the system ages in a 'bathtub curve' where failure rates accelerate in years four and five. We therefore perform a hardware refresh after 5 years.

6. We replicate your data to a secondary mirror system

Every evening we replicate (copy) your data to a second system located in a different building. If all the protections we put in place on the primary system fail and your data is inaccessible we can promote the secondary. Secondary systems are built to the same specification as the primary.