UW Emergency Management

Preserving computer information

Q. How can I protect my desktop computer in case of a disaster?

A. Devices to secure a computer and monitor to the desktop are available through University Stores. An anti-theft cable may also prevent a monitor or system from falling. Non-skid mats, straps, and other restraints (also available through University Stores) can prevent monitors and system units from moving.

Q. Does Computing & Communications offer any special provisions to back up data from desktop computers to the campus network?

A. User files on the Nebula system are backed up automatically. A centrally managed automatic backup service is not currently available for other desktop environments. Uniform Access accounts provide each individual 100 megabytes of storage on central computers; “bulk disk” is available for short-term use for data needs that exceed capabilities of Uniform Access accounts.

Q. What can I do to back up critical computer information?

A.This depends on the amount of data and the degree of reliability you need. Tape backup units can provide up to 60 gigabytes of storage. The drives must be tested frequently to make sure they are working properly. Re-writable (CD-RW) compact disk drives can store about 650 megabytes. See this article on backup options for the current Nebula policies regarding backup data.

Q. How can I document procedures to store, safeguard and retrieve vital records? How do i find help to set up backup and storage procedures?

A. A good place to start is with UW Records Management Services, which offers free services to help you identify and manage vital records and files. Fee-based consulting services are also available from Computing & Communications.

Q. Should I insure my computing equipment?

A. Insurance information is available from the Office of Risk Management, (www.washington.edu/admin/rmequip/). While some departments may buy insurance for all their computing equipment, others just buy additional “spare” desktop computers, and purchase insurance only for more valuable equipment.

Q. Should I purchase an Uninterruptible Power Supply?

A. A UPS can help by allowing an orderly shutdown when the regular electrical system fails, and many campus buildings do not have automatic emergency power. UPS equipment comes in many sizes and with many options, but generally provides power for only a few minutes. As with any emergency equipment, it must be tested regularly. The decision to buy a UPS will depend on several factors, including the equipment you want to protect and the criticality of the data on it.

Q. What kinds of central support for computing will be available in an emergency?

A. As soon as centrally-available resources (servers, routers, power, etc.) resume functioning, the campus may expect some level of service for central computing issues and assistance. Computing & Communications has installed electrical generators to back up critical equipment; the UW’s networks are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will receive priority from local telecommunications service providers in the event of an emergency. C&C has a well-developed emergency/business recovery plan, and staff are trained to respond to emergencies.

Q. Whom should I contact to assist me with my computing needs in an emergency?

A. Start with the Help Desk, help@cac.washington.edu.

Q. Following an emergency, how long will it take me to recover essential data that I have stored on central computing facilities?

A. That will depend on what parts of the network have been most affected by the emergency. C&C will work to minimize the disruption and restore services to the most critical areas first.

Q. Where can I find help to repair or replace computers in an emergency?

A. Repair services will be taxed to the maximum in a region-wide emergency. The best strategy is prevention-try to minimize the extent of damage to critical equipment by securing it. If you have critical needs, there are a variety of companies that specialize in recovery services-for data and other purposes-but you need to establish contracts with these firms before a disaster occurs.