GPC Office of Information Technology

Backup of Workstation Data

Standards and Procedures




Data on your laptop or desktop can be lost due to technology failure, malware, or loss of the actual computer, and may not be able to be recovered. In order to prevent the loss of important data on desktops and laptops (workstations) throughout GPC and any resulting interruption of administrative or business functions, this data must be periodically backed up. That means a copy of the data must be made and stored securely.


Users of GPC computing resources are responsible for backing up their own workstation data. The Office of Information Technology (OIT) has developed standards and procedures that should be used for backing up workstation data.





Workstation data can be backed up in a number of ways. OIT has evaluated various methods and has defined standards that maximize effectiveness and provide appropriate security for the data.


In some functional areas, shared drives have been set up on the network to provide a means of sharing files within the group. These shared drives are backed up regularly as part of OIT procedures. However, their purpose is to facilitate data sharing. In most cases, everyone who has access to the share can access all the files on it, including reading, changing, and deleting the files. Therefore, you should not use a shared drive for backing up workstation data unless the security on the drive has been approved by OIT for backups.


OIT recommends using an external hard drive for backing up your data. These devices are portable and connect directly to your workstation. Users should purchase one of these technologies to use for backing up workstation data.


OIT has an agreement with a vendor for obtaining dependable external drives at a very reasonable cost. These drives have proven to be effective, and include software for automatically backing up and syncing files between your workstation and the external drive. OIT recommends using these approved external drives, and can provide support in both setting up the backup process using these drives and in recovering data from them if necessary.


Please note that OIT advises not using flash drives and CDs/DVDs for backing up workstation data. Flash drives and CDs/DVDs are too easy to lose, and, if lost, the data is completely unprotected and can be accessed by anyone who finds it.


Please click on the following link for information on ordering the OIT-recommended external drives, and contact the OIT Service Desk for additional assistance.


There are numerous other external hard drives on the market and any reputable current technology should work. However, OIT will not be able to support any unapproved external drives.


You probably will need to back up only your My Documents folder, where data files normally reside (most commercial software can be replaced so does not need to be backed up). However, if you have important files in other folders, then include them when considering the capacity you will need for an external drive.


Please use the following procedures for backing up your data.





Maintaining periodic backups of workstation data is necessary to prevent loss of important data. However, users must also exercise care to adequately protect any copies of the data, especially if they maintain any sensitive data on their workstations. The following procedures are intended to ensure an effective and secure backup process.


1)    Determine your optimum backup frequency based on how critical the data on your workstation is and how often it is changed or updated (e.g., daily, weekly). A new backup copy should also be made if the content of the data changes substantially between regular backups.


2)    For portable external drives, if the device provides backup software, follow the instructions provided with the device. Otherwise, a simple copy command can be used to move the data folder(s) to the backup device.


3)    The data on your workstation is protected from unauthorized access by your ID and password. Backup copies do not have this protection. Always store a portable backup device in a secure location:


         Do not leave the backup device unattended if you leave your workstation. Keep it under lock and key if you are not present. No one should have access to the backup device except you.

         You must comply with all policies and requirements for protection of the data in a backup copy as well as the primary location on your workstation.

         Do not leave it or store it in your car.

         Do not leave it or store it at home unless under lock and key.


4)    Report immediately to the OIT Service Desk if your laptop, desktop, or backup device is lost or stolen. Be prepared to provide a list of the data that it contained.


5)    Please contact the OIT Service Desk if you have questions or need assistance.