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UAS Synchronization and Encryption

Centralized campus computers (staff & faculty machines with the UAS campus build) utilize a background synchronization process to ensure user data is both backed up and encrypted. 

Backed up: When on the campus network, your computer is configured to perform saving of files (Desktop, My Documents & Favorites folders) immediately to our servers. Silently, and in the background, these files are synchronized to your local computer in an encrypted format to ensure their availability when the network is no longer available (off campus, on a plane, etc). 

Encrypted: With most home computers, if a nefarious person gains access to your computer, they can easily access the files held in on your hard drive using a second computer. In the case of centralized UAS computers, using encryption for your synchronized files (Desktop, My Documents & Favorites) adds an extra layer of security to help protect user and institutional data. The only way for the files to be accessed is through a decryption using the associated user credentials. (Obviously, one should never keep their password affixed to the laptop!)

1. What is synchronization?

Synchronization uses features built into Microsoft Windows to make sure your files are backed-up on a UAS file server.  It also ensures that files are encrypted so that others cannot access them without your password.  Both of these features are especially important for laptop computers which are easily lost or stolen.

2. Why does my computer need to synchronize?

The synchronization process makes sure the files on your computer and the files on the server are the same.

3. What is synchronized, and what isn’t?

Only files stored in your My Documents folder are synchronized.  Any other files, including files on your Desktop and local mail are not synchronized or backed up.

4. What is synchronized, and what isn’t?

Only files stored in your My Documents folder are synchronized.  Any other files, including files on your Desktop and local mail are not synchronized or backed up.

Further (and unfortunately) Microsoft Access Database (*.mdb) files are unable to sync. If you have these files within your Sync folder, you will receive an error message indicating that the Access file(s) cannot be synchronized.

5. Should I try to synchronize everything?

Synchronization works best if you have less than 2 gigabytes of data.  The synchronization process is not intended for extremely large amounts of data.    If you have over 4 gigabytes of data, you should store your files outside of the "My Documents" folder and consult with IT services on an alternate backup strategy.

6. When does my computer synchronize?

The computer should synchronize when you log on, log off, or while it is idle (you’re away from the keyboard).  The process will attempt to run when you’re away from the UAS network; however in that instance it will fail.  If you’re away from campus and it fails, this is normal and expected since the file server is not available.

7. Why does it take so long? Can I cancel it?

Synchronization should only take a few seconds; however, it can feel like hours.  You should not cancel the process unless absolutely necessary.  If you do cancel it, you should expect strangeness in the files and folders within My Documents, including missing files or folders, or different versions than the last one you saved.  We strongly recommend against cancelling the synchronization.  Our first step in resolving synchronization issues will be to have you perform a full synchronization.

8. Why can’t IT Services just back up my computer over the network?

Network backup requires computers to be constantly turned on and consuming electricity.  It also requires laptops to be left connected to the campus networks.  Finally, hard drives have become so large that it is no longer possible to back up all campus computers even over an entire weekend.

 
 

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