Recovering files from backups

CSG operate an online backup system, which allows you to directly access backup copies of home directories and group volume areas. The online backup system contains nightly snapshots of these areas going back several days, meaning that -- in most common cases -- lost or mangled files can be easily recovered without the need for assistance from CSG.

This document explains how to retrieve historical files from the online backup system.

You will also need a valid Kerberos ticket to access /vol/recover2. Please run kinit ${USER}@IC.AC.UK prior to attempting to access /vol/recover2.

Recovering files from your Home Directory under Linux

cd /vol/recover2/homes/<username>

Please note: as of Summer 2013, user home directories have been moved to a different file-server because the filesystem became full. Please use the above location rather than the historic /vol/recover....

The full copy of your home directory as of the previous night is in the sub-directory full. Each of the inc-n sub-directories contain files that changed about n nights ago.

That is:


last night's copy of your home directory


files that changed between last night and 2 nights ago


files that changed between 2 nights ago and 3 nights ago


files that changed between 3 nights ago and 4 nights ago



files that changed between 11 nights ago and 12 nights ago

Recovering files from a shared volume (eg. /vol/project) under Linux

The vast majority of shared volumes, such as /vol/project for group project directories, or /vol/cc for the Custom Computing research group, are also backed up and can be found in:


Note: Don't accidentally overwrite things by copying them incautiously

Remember when you are about to copy any files from the backups to your current home directory (or shared volume), you need to be extremely clear whether you wish to overwrite existing files or not - by default, of course you will overwrite anything! It may be safest to either copy a single file at a time, or to recursively copy a whole directory tree into a newly created directory perhaps called restored_DIRNAME_CURRENTDATE, and then very cautiously decide how to merge the two directories.

Recovering files under Windows

Start - Run... - \\\recover2


Start - Run... - \\\recover

The folder recover2 will contain backups for your home directory. The folder recover will contain backups of the /vol areas such as the group project areas. The layout of the directories is the same as described above.

Recovery of older files

If the files that you need to restore were lost more than 12 nights ago, they will not be available from the online backup system. If this is the case, please raise a ticket with CSG to request a file restore from the offline tape backup system.

Please note that as this is a time-consuming process requiring retrieval of the appropriate tapes from secure storage and manual processing, you should allow at least a working day for file recovery requests to be serviced. Please help us by being as precise as you can about the Unix path of the data and roughly when it was deleted or corrupted, as we are likely to have several possible dated backup versions of your lost data.