Department of Chemistry, University of Alberta         October 2001
NMR News 2001-05
News and tips for users of the Varian NMR systems in the Department

There are no fixed publishing dates for this newsletter; its appearance solely depends on whether there is a need to present information to the users of the spectrometers or not.

Other content of this NMR News is no longer meaningful and has been removed April 2010.



FAQ 2001-05.1: archiving and backups, what is the difference?


NMR tubes and other stuff


FAQ 2001-05.1: archiving and backups, what is the difference?
Many people think of data archiving and backup as the same process when in fact it is not. If a user decides to put some of his/her data on a CD or DVD, then the user is archiving data. The central idea is that the information is stored on an external storage device such as a CD, DVD etc. for future use. This is the main reason why CDs and/or DVDs are particularly nice for this purpose:
(i) they are expected to last a very long time if stored properly (no really long-term experience is available since they are relatively new);
(ii) the information cannot accidentally be overwritten, nor can it be erased by magnetic fields. Proper storage is important and implies protection from intense light and heat.

Backups, on the other hand, have a very different purpose. They are a defence against loosing data in case of hardware failure and/or hacker attacks. For example, if a hard disk crashes, the work of an entire research group of a year or more could be lost. Typically tapes awee used for this purpose as the information is stored for a limited time only before it is overwritten by a more recent version.

In the past, archiving and backups have been the obligation of research groups. Through the purchase of a dedicated backup server (in essence a computer with one purpose only: providing a huge amount of disk space), we are now able to implement a much better backup strategy. Better, because it is computer–controlled and works without any human intervention, i.e. it does not depend on whether or not a person forgets to put a tape into the tape drive... 

It is essential to realize that the backups are over-written daily so this is not archiving which remains the groups’ and/or individual users’ responsibility

NMR tubes and other stuff
Multi-user areas such as the NMR labs have a tendency to accumulate all kinds of stuff: empty coffee cups, paper, pens, pencils, entire lab books and lots of NMR tubes. There is only one way to keep it reasonably clean: throw away what is not absolutely needed. NMR tubes, those without labels in particular, will be trashed without any warning whatsoever. If they have a label they may stay a little longer but eventually they will go, too. In other words, if your sample is of any value don’t leave it behind. The same applies to coffee cups, be it card board or designer mugs.

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