University departments can host their shared data on centrally-managed servers and storage. This facility is provided by IT Services, hosted on highly-resilient, dual-sited hardware. It is backed up nightly, and can be restored from tape on request. Users can also restore their data themselves, within certain limits, from their own PC.
For many years, central filestore has been available for individual home directories (H: drives), and for "public" data (L: drive). However, no facility existed for sharing data between groups of users, and departments were therefore advised to host such data on their own file servers. Often, this gap in provision forced departments to buy and manage their own servers, and run their own backup facility, when they would otherwise have been happy for storage to be provided centrally. Also, departments without local IT support were left with no service in this area.
Details of the Shared Filestore Service
The central shared filestore appears to the user as part of the I: drive. This can be accessed as an automatically-mapped drive, from any PC in the DS domain (recommended). Machines not in the DS domain, and machines off-campus (e.g., home machines), can access the data through the Webdrive service.
By default, 10GB of central shared storage is provided to each department. However, IT Services is happy to provide considerably more than 10GB if required, and if a reasonable case can be made. If you consider the 10GB limit to be a significant obstacle to your department's use of the I: drive, then please contact the IT Helpdesk in the first instance, who will direct your request accordingly.
Within each department, a "departmental sponsor" can define how storage space is divided up between different group-folders. If your department has its own Computing Officer, or other dedicated IT Support personnel, then we generally recommend you nominate these individuals as your departmental sponsor(s).
Below this level, each group-folder also has its own "group sponsor". This can be the same as the departmental sponsor, or can be different for each group. The group sponsor defines membership of their group, and has primary responsibility for the data in the folder. New group-folders must be requested by staff members, through their departmental sponsor, and may be for use by students, staff, or a mixture of both.
Quotas, E-mail Notifications and Reports
The use of "quotas" (i.e., storage limits) for each department, and for each group-folder, ensures that no single individual or group can suddenly fill up an entire department's allocation - nor can one department suddenly fill up the entire filestore.
The departmental sponsor will receive a monthly report by e-mail, with details of the quotas and current usage for the department as a whole, and for each group therein.
The group sponsor will receive an e-mail warning when their group reaches a certain percentage of its quota, and again if it reaches its full quota. In this case, the group sponsor should either delete some data (preferred), or see their departmental sponsor about an increase in their group quota. However, it is important for departmental sponsors to remember that all group quotas are contained within an overall departmental quota - so giving too much away to one group, may ultimately make less available for other groups in the same department.
Users of PCs in the DS domain, running Windows XP SP2, may perform their own restores of accidentally deleted/overwritten data, through the Previous Versions tab in Windows Explorer. For overwritten files, this is done by right-clicking the file itself, clicking Properties, then clicking Previous Versions. For deleted files, right-click the folder in which the file resided, click Properties, then click Previous Versions.
The Previous versions represent copies of the data taken at a particular time each night, going back for a number of nights. It is therefore important to understand that, if a file is created and then deleted on the same day, then it cannot be restored through Previous versions (nor can you have it restored from tape). Also, the number of days you can go back will vary, as a limited amount of disk space is allocated to storing previous versions - so once this disk space is full, it automatically discards older copies as it adds new ones.
However, experience suggests that most restore requests are for data going back just a day or two, so it is hoped that the Previous versions tab will cater for most restore requirements.
Applying to Use the Service
To create a new department-folder: a Departmental Sponsor form should be completed, and mailed to the IT Services Helpdesk by the Head of Department or equivalent. Any queries, requests for further information, etc, should also be addressed to the IT Services Helpdesk.
Once the departmental folder has been created, group-folders can be created underneath by the departmental sponsor through an automated, command-driven system. The departmental sponsor can also enter commands to modify group quotas, request usage reports or create 'read-only' groups for folders. Group sponsors can modify group membership through a GUI-based system, and can also delete their own groups. In short, once the departmental folder has been created, there should be little or no requirement for intervention by IT Services staff thereafter.