Computer Backups

MTL operates a backup service for computers and servers connected to the local MTL network. Backups are most reliable over a wired network connection. Backups run daily, and each computer typically backs up only once a day. The current backup retention policy keeps backed-up data for a total of 6 weeks, and there is no archiving done. If a computer is listed as being backed up by MTL and has not been backed up in a certain number of days, then the person listed as its primary user in MTL MUMMS will be sent a reminder e-mail.

For MTL to back up your computer, the computer must satisfy the following requirements: 

  • It must be connected to the MTL network. Computers outside the MTL network cannot be backed up.
  • It must be powered on and remain on during the entire time that the backup job runs. Backup jobs typically run overnight for servers and desktop computers and during the day for laptops.
  • It must be assigned a fixed IP network address.
  • It must have the required backup client software installed and properly configured.

MTL is capable of backing up the following types of computers:

  • All UNIX-based, Windows, and Mac desktop and servers (unless they do not have a fixed IP address).
  • All UNIX-based, Windows and Mac laptops that have a fixed-DHCP IP assignment. This has to be set up by MTL IT staff.

If you are an MTL resident and would like to know if your computer was backed up, or request that it be backed up, then please send an e-mail to problems [at]  Note that by default, all UNIX, Windows, and Mac servers and desktops set up by the MTL IT staff are configured for MTL backups. Some users have requested that certain computers or data not be backed up by MTL. The research group supervisor who owns the computer must verify this.

If you need data restored, please send an e-mail to problems [at] In order to expedite the restoration process, please supply as much information as you can regarding what files you would like restored. This includes the full path and name of the files, the date that the files were last modified, and as of what date that you would like them restored.

Within the MTL environment, Windows users can also use their Z drive to copy data to their MTL UNIX home directory (where it will also be backed up). The MTL IT staff can configure Windows computers to access the Z drive.

In addition to MTL backups, MIT also offers institute backup services, including access to Crash Plan. MTL recommends that laptop users take advantage of the Crash Plan service especially if they are not on the MTL network often. MIT also offers access to Dropbox for cloud storage and file synchronization.

MTL highly recommends that users keep their most important data in multiple locations. A single backup solution is not a foolproof way to protect yourself against data loss.