Staff H: Drives (Life After Novell)

(The following is a copy of a post made to the old Technology Wiki/Blog site originally published June 10, 2010)

Hello again everyone. As opposed to continuing to send out emails on subjects that you might not find important today, but which you could not find the email tomorrow when it is important, I will start using our blog server to make this stuff easy to find.

Question of the Day:

I know, the title above implies that there will be a question every day, but in reality, there will only be a question when I get one that makes me think, “Gee, I bet everyone would like to know the answer to this question”, or I think to myself after reading it, “D’oh! Why didn’t I think of that!”.

Today’s question comes our way compliments of Kendal Pestun, from the High School. Kendal wrote:
Pete,
There has been some confusion (at least among my group of friends) regarding H drives for next year. Will we have access to our H drives while at school on our laptops. Will we need to put the H drive on a flash drive in order to have it? This is what was mentioned to some of us. Thanks for clarifying.

This is a great question and one worth exploring. First, it’s good to mention a little about the H: drive so that we all are speaking the same language. The H: drive is what currently is referred to when someone is speaking of their network “home” file storage. This data is stored (or “lives”if you will) on the network and is private to you, the individual user. Right now, on every desktop computer running Windows, your local personal files and settings (ie: My Documents, My Pictures, Internet bookmarks etc.) are redirected away from the desktop computer and actually stored out on the network. This gives us the ability to back them up for you and to recover them if (did I really say if?) something bad were to happen.
When you get your new, shiny, Apple MacBook, there will no longer be a need for a network “home”. All of your files and settings will be stored locally (meaning physically) on the laptop. Where you take your laptop, you take your files. This is important to remember. This means that you will not need to connect to the school’s file servers in order to get your files. (Important Note: This does not pertain to shared files such as what you now think of as the I:, S:, O: and N: drives. We will deal with that issue at a later date and I will link it to this posting).

But what about backing up my files?

Each laptop has special software installed on it that runs in the background to back up your files to a server on our network that is configured specifically for this purpose. You do not have to do anything, this backup will occur automatically. If something “bad” happens and you need to recover files, you will simply open this utility, browse the files that have been backed up, and choose the version of the file that you would like to recover. For now, don’t worry about the actual steps involved to recover a file. The process is quick and simple and detailed instructions will be made available to you soon. Backup will occur whether you are here at school or at home (from home it occurs over the Internet). This also means you can recover files from anywhere as well.
As always, there is no substitue for being personally responsible for your own backup! Automated processes are just that – automated, and occasionally subject to failure. So, if you have any personal items on your laptop and don’t want to lose it, it is recommended that you purchase an external hard drive and make use of the Apple Time Machine to back up your files, or make sure you keep copies.

What about privacy and security?

All of your files that are backed up on our servers are encrypted and can only be recovered by you with your password. All we see is encrypted gibberish. So please rest easy, no one but you will have access to the files that you have backed up.

What about the files that are in my H: drive now? How will I get them to my laptop?

Later this summer we will have you current H: drive data moved to a location that you will be able to access with your laptop. You will then be able to copy over the items that you wish to keep. this will be a great time to finally clean out all that old data (hint, hint). You can also be proactive and use a flash drive right now. Copy your H: drive data to it and when you get your new MacBook, copy it form the flash drive(keep the data on the flash drive as a backup until you are sure that you don’t need it any more).
I hope this helps to dispel some of the confusion on this topic. Please feel free to email me if you have any specific questions, or better yet, just post your comments to this blog post. Who knows, your question may be the same as someone else’s!