Blog from March, 2015

We continue to work on the retirement of our legacy eRoom service (an on-premise web content service used for over a decade).  We will terminate the service on or before December 2015.

Many of these eRooms have been migrated to AODocs libraries for archival and reference purposes.  (We have also provided zip files to customers who want the data in that form).  AODocs is a Google Marketplace app - and, much like eRoom requires an administrator to create new libraries. (just send a request to the IT Help Desk if this tool seems right for you).


World Backup Day: Is your data backed up?


The IT Division is taking part in celebrating World Backup Day by encouraging the Lab community to double check that your backups are working and ensure that all your important data is backed up.  

Don't Be An April Fool - Do A Backup Checkup

It's time for your checkup.  We promise it won't hurt.

First: Check up on your strategy.  What are you trying to achieve with your backup?  Are you trying to backup all the data in your experiments, or just some, or just your important findings?  Do your backups need to be able to survive a major earthquake that impacted the site?  Are you using the best form of technology to ensure that your data remains safe?  For example, if you're still using external hard drives as backup, make sure you've evaluated some of the newer alternatives that may provide more resilient backups.  Remember that file sync (like Dropbox and Google Drive Sync) are not the same thing as Backups (see more on this below).  

Second: Check up on your scope. Are you actually backing up the data you want to backup?   Have your experimental results moved somewhere else and you're no longer backing them up?  Make sure your backup software or process is correctly backing up the files and directories and systems you need.

Third: Check up on your data.  Now it's time to go do a quick spot check on your backups.  Does your backup client report that it's working?  Can you see recent files in your backups or in the logs provided by the backup client?  Does the size of your backup correspond to the amount of data you think you've backed up?  

What if I don't know the answers?

If you can't complete the backup checkup because you're using systems managed by others, now is the time to ask some questions!  Find your sysadmin or another cognizant person and confirm what and how is being backed up on your behalf.  Ask them to run through the backup checkup too.


Can IT Help Me Backup My Data?

You bet.  

IT offers various options to help from simple desktop/laptop backup solutions (Carbonite) to infrastructure like Google Drive that is already backed up, to more complex backups for servers and shared storage.  
Checkout our options at

What Else Should I Know?

A Quick Word About External Hard Drives
Historically, nothing has competed with external hard drives for ease and cost of doing major backups for research data.   However, that's starting to change.  Cloud services like Google Drive and Carbonite provide reasonably speedy and large volume alternatives at competitive prices (or even free).  While External Hard Drives are pretty good, they do have surprising failure rates and, unless they are reliably stored offsite, they are unlikely to allow your research data to survive a major event at the Lab (or even a minor one like a particularly nasty virus or a fire sprinkler release).  If you use external hard drives, take a minute to consider other options.  Need help, contact
A Quick Word About Google Drive Sync and Dropbox and Other File Synchronization Services
File synchronization services like the Google Drive Sync Client and Dropbox provide some of the features of backups but are not, fundamentally, backup tools.  This is because sync clients are highly susceptible to accidental local changes that propagate through the backup  This is even more true in collaborative file sharing environments where it's possible that a collaborator could accidentally delete your important folder or file and, potentially, delete your local copy as well!     While file synchronization does provide some resiliency, it doesn't equate to a full backup solution.
However, you can safely make use of the Lab's Google Drive storage space as a backup location (all employees have 30GB or shared mail and drive space) by doing the following:
  1. Create a folder for your backup in the web interface of Google Drive (not the file browser on your computer).  Make sure it's named something obvious and don't share it with anyone.
  2. Ensure that all your local Google Drive Sync clients are set to choose the directories you want to sync and make sure that new backup file is excluded.
  3. Now use the web interface or file uploader interface at to upload files.

Provided you don't accidentally delete the files or accidentally begin syncing these files locally, this should provide a safe backup destination for your work.  Need help, contact




Following the successful launch of a Calendar app for Android last Fall, Google released a version for iOS devices last week.  

For "power" calendar users, we hope this solves some of the issues we have seen with the built-in calendar app on iPhones.   The description for the Android app is here.

Reference the Google Blog for a brief intro and a link to Apple's AppStore.

After downloading the app, tap the Google Calendar icon and watch the intro slides.  You will then be prompted to login at the Google login screen, (only enter your full LBL email address at this stage, leave the password field blank and continue).   This will redirect you to LBL's Single Sign-On page where you will enter your Berkeley Lab Identity credentials.

Once you are in the app, look at the top left hand corner and you will see a 3 bar icon, tap the icon and you will see the options available, such as what calendars to display.  Settings are found at the bottom of this list: tap settings to add multiple Google accounts by tapping "Manage Accounts" 


Google Blog




This work has been completed successfully with no interruption in service

The Identity Management Team will perform a planned upgrade to equipment that front ends our services (the enterprise directory, authentication systems, phonebook, etc).  This is a security upgrade and will be done at 4pm, Friday March 13. The outage window is 30 minutes or less.  Anyone already logged into a lab system will not be impacted.

From approximately 7:30am through 9:00am March 5, a problem at Google resulted in authentication failures when Lab users attempted to use any of our Marketplace Apps (Lucidchart, Smartsheet, GQueues . etc).



This issue is resolved.

Prior details:

Smartsheet is currently experiencing an issue which prevents users from logging in.  More at: