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We have had a number of Support requests for network-attached storage (NAS boxes) and USB disks. We know there are a variety of models for data storage, not all of which are best addressed by our resilient fileservers. We have been using some of our "pre-loved" hardware, now out of warranty, and offer a hosting service for your disk(s) subject to space.


  • What might we use it for?
    Backing up machines not otherwise backed up, archival of group data for former members - ask our advice!
  • How secure is my data?
    Data is stored only in one physical server, so is vulnerable to a variety of single failures. If the idea of losing all of your data due to events such as a single leak in one room, an electrical surge in one electrical distribution board, etc. gives you any concern then the disk hosting service is not a good choice.
  • How would we get at our disk?
    We host disks which are shared by samba (for Windows file sharing), NFS, and/or SSH.
  • What happens if our disk dies?
    The IT team will remove it from the server and return it to you. If under manufacturer's warranty - and you like - we are happy to send it away for replacement.
  • How much would we pay for this service?
    Nothing - you buy your own hard disk(s) for use.
  • What's the guarantee / service level agreement?
    This is not a "high availability" service like the fileservers we run. There is only one server so if we have to do hardware maintenance on it we have to turn it off. We do not plan to interrupt service unless we absolutely have to; the system will certainly have to reboot occasionally to install security patches but otherwise we expect it to keep running.
    Note: If the service being down for an hour or two once in a while will seriously disrupt your group's work, this probably isn't the service you're looking for.
  • Why would I use this rather than a USB disk or NAS box?
    By having your disk hosted in a server room it is less vulnerable to knocks/bumps and to being disconnected by mistake. We try to keep our server rooms cooler for our own servers and your disks. The IT team will offer support for the programs used to access the disk - which we cannot offer for your USB or NAS device.
  • What sort of disks should I buy?
    We require 3.5inch SATA drives. Some may prefer to use relatively inexpensive drives and accept the higher risk of failure; others may prefer 'server-grade' drives which claim to fail less often. If speed of access is critical, 7200rpm drives will be more appropriate than 5400rpm drives. Some drives have more caching available than others, which makes reading and writing smoother (at an additional cost). Please contact the Computer Officers with your ideas for hosting your disks and we will try our best to make suggestions.
  • How can I set up regular backups of data to my hosted disk?

    Depending on what you are backing up, a common software tool is rsync, used to synchronize files on a workstation with files on the hosted disk. Much useful documentation on rsync and tutorials can be found at

  • How do I get it?
    Send an email to giving us your thoughts, ideas, details & disk budget!

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