Students are responsible for backing up their files, be they stored on MIT file servers or personal laptops. The Athena, MacAthena and WinAthena environments offer a free, rudimentary backup service. However, you should not count on this service as your primary backup when using public clusters. As for personal laptops, there are a number of options detailed in the COMP : Personal section of this site.


  • Backups: Every evening, just past midnight, a snapshot is taken of one's entire home directory on Athena. This snapshot, or clone, is stored in ~/OldFiles. Subsequent snapshots overwrite the existing ~/OldFiles. The service is entirely automatic and free. Note that ~/OldFiles does not count against your Athena quota. Do not rename or move the OldFiles folder
  • Restore: To restore MacAthena files from an OldFiles snapshot, simply navigate to ~/OldFiles/. From there, visit the folder with desired file. Then drag the file onto your Desktop. For example: If one wished to restore a file named 'oskar.pdf' that had been left on one's MacAthena Desktop the day before, drag ~/OldFiles/MacData/Desktop/oskar.pdf to the current desktop
  • Limitations: As OldFiles is overwritten every 24 hours, the backup window extends no further back. For instance if one had deleted a file from one's Desktop 30 hours previous, there is no recovering that file from OldFiles. As a result, OldFiles should not be treated as one's sole MacAthena backup strategy. OldFiles should be complemented with a habit of backing up Athena files to flash, hard drive, laptop drive, cloud service (Dropbox or similar) or the Windows DFS file space


  • Backups: Every morning at 4AM, a snapshot is taken of the user's directory on DFS. MIT keeps 60 days worth of snapshots
  • Restore: To restore WinAthena files:
    1. Go to your directory on DFS (\\\dfs\profiles\<your_kerberos_first_letter>/<your_kerberos> -- for example: \\\dfs\profiles\u\unclejoe)
    2. Right-click Properties
    3. Select Previous Versions tab and choose from 60 days' worth of backups
  • Limitations: 60 day window

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