VM Snapshot Backups

What is TimeVault?

TimeVault guards against accidental deletion or modification of data stored within your OwnTime.intersect.org.au virtual machines. It is also perfect if you need to save your data prior to retiring a virtual machine. TimeVault enables you to restore your data to an earlier point in time.

Backup Checkpoints

A single full backup is made initially, then incremental backups are scheduled to run automatically at agreed daily, weekly and monthly times based on the data volumes and data changes involved. Your data is backed up to a TimeVault-internal filesystem. This backup filesystem will appear as regular TimeVault consumption in your monthly account, though you will not have direct access to it.

TimeVault backups are retained daily for 7 days, weekly for 4 weeks, monthly for 12 months, and annually for the life of your TimePlan; recognising that the more recently data changes, the more granularity of restoration checkpoints is needed. Intersect regularly monitors all TimeVault backups to confirm they are completing successfully and within the time allocated for them to run.


TimeVault works with the internal storage of all OwnTime virtual machines. Technically this means any OpenStack virtual machine that can expose attached ephemeral block storage as an NFS mounted filesystem. TimeVault is a companion to, but different from SpaceVault, designed to backup generic Space collections.

TimeVault makes an exact copy of anything in an OwnTime attached filesystem. But not everything can survive; binary data from active databases and applications typically requires manufacturer recommended/supplied export tools. We recommend you to use them to prepare database dumps and application exports and include these in your data collection for backup. If in doubt, please get in touch for advice.

Source and Backup size

You can set up TimeVault to run on any number of OwnTime VMs. There are some pragmatic constraints: standard backup sources can be up to 20 TB in size,  and contain up to 2 million files. If your filesystem is larger than these thresholds, you may need to split it into logical sub-sources. For data volumes significantly larger than these thresholds, a custom solution will be required; please get in touch and we’ll work through this with you.

Backup size depends on a number of factors including filesystem size, the frequency of backup, the retention period,  and how much data changes over time. TimeVault backup technology helps minimise overall storage consumed by hardware compression, incremental copies, and software optimisation.

Backing up small files

Files can range from 0 bytes up to any size, though practical maximum file sizes will apply.  If you have large numbers (order 100,000+) of small files (order 10KB in size) we strongly recommend  these be compressed and aggregated into zip or archive files.

How does TimeVault determine if my data has changed?

TimeVault uses file metadata to determine if your files have changed, typically file creation date and file modification date. If you require a different mechanism, for example based on data checksums, you will need a custom solution: please contact us for advice.

File permissions

TimeVault uses administrative privileges to copy your data. Due to the heterogeneous nature of cloud computing and storage, backed-up file permissions are not guaranteed to be maintained post-restoration. Specific arrangements may be accommodated if possible.

How do I restore my data?

Restoration is requested through help.intersect.org.au.  You will need to specify your TimePlan, identify your OwnTime VM, the containing folder source, a selection criteria for the files you want to restore, such as filename or path (regular expressions are supported) and file owner, along with a date range; typically this will be the dates you think the file data is intact. TimeVault will use this information to scan for files that match your criteria; these will be candidate files to restore.

To give you fast access to your restored data, it will be copied to an accessible Space filesystem for up to 30 days. This transient storage does not count towards any SpacePlan storage quota.

TimeVault includes one pre-scheduled trial and two standard restorations per collection per year. Standard restores are up to 10K files and  up to 1TB of data using basic selection criteria as described. Trial restores are of reduced samples to confirm nominal operation. Additional standard restorations, trial restores, restorations involving greater than the standard restore limits, or restorations involving complex selection criteria are by at additional cost by agreement. Please get in touch for any special requests.

Who can request restoration?

Only the owner of a TimePlan or authorised representative can request backup or restoration of your data, and it requires approval through the help.intersect.org.au ticketing system to ensure auditability.

Security and integrity

TimeVault makes sure that whatever is backed up can be restored precisely to a given point in time, safely and securely, by offering:

  • Backup privacy (access is restricted to requestor designator personnel).
  • Media redundancy (copies are made across diverse media).
  • Data integrity (failsafe mechanisms ensure integrity when any data is copied or moved).
  • Secure environment (the NSW eResearch Nexus uses secure tier 3 certified data centres).
  • Options for offline, offsite replication (at additional cost).

Service Levels

As with any backup service, TimeVault service levels apply to standard collections that are within standard size thresholds and for standard restorations, as described.

Recovery Point Objective1 day
That is, the maximum amount of data missing after a restore from the most recent backup is up to one elapsed day’s worth of changes
Recovery Time Objective1 business day
That is, the maximum amount of time elapsed before restored data is available to you is up to one business day.
Exclusionsbject storage, for example SWIFT or S3.
Virtual machine operating system/image snapshot
External storage, for example Space.intersect.org.au collections.
TimeVault does not attempt file or block de-duplication.
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