SSCC Policies

  • Usage

    The Social Science Computing Cooperative is funded to provide the research computing needs of several social science departments and research agencies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Each SSCC member accepts responsibility for all the computing done using their SSCC account(s).

    Account Security

    The protection of SSCC resources depends heavily on each member’s careful handling of their account(s), since any account can serve as an entry point for theft, damage, or unauthorized use to the entire network. SSCC members must protect the confidentiality of their accounts including their passwords and are expected to exercise reasonable care to insure that others cannot use their accounts. Sharing accounts is not permitted. Each SSCC member agreed to this policy when they activated their account and failure to abide by it may result in the termination of their account.

    Commercial and Political Activity and Harassment

    It is strictly against SSCC policy and potentially a violation of state and/or federal law for any SSCC resources to be used for commercial or political activity or for the purposes of harassing anyone. Anyone caught violating this rule will have his or her account terminated.

    Unsolicited Mail

    The resources of the SSCC network should not be used to send unsolicited electronic mass mailings to users. Specific examples of situations which are not acceptable include sending surveys to all or a sample of the SSCC’s users, sending commercial or political sales pitches, and sending fund raising requests. If you believe you have a convincing reason to use electronic mail for this type of purpose, speak to Andy Arnold, the SSCC Director.

  • Printing

    SSCC spends approximately $50,000 per year on printing. This includes supplies, equipment maintenance, and personnel time. Although SSCC does not charge individuals for printing, SSCC’s sponsoring agencies pay based on their members’ usage. The SSCC sends a monthly printing report to the chairs and directors of SSCC’s sponsoring departments and agencies which contains individual printing totals for all of their members. In addition, we send individual monthly printing report to SSCC members who rank in the top 100. For most months last year, this would have been those printing more than 500 pages.

    Keep in mind that it costs approximately $.06 for every page you print on SSCC printers. The imputed printing cost is printed on the yellow cover sheet of your print job. Visit our View Printing page for a detailed accounting of your Windows printing history.

    Printing Guidelines

    Below are some guidelines for reducing printing costs:

    • Always print double-sided.
    • Print four pages per sheet of paper (2-up) when possible. Instructions for Linux are available at https://www.ssc.wisc.edu/sscc/pubs/7-28.htm. Windows users can specify “2 up” after clicking Properties from the Print dialog box.
    • Never print more than one copy of a file. This includes theses and dissertations. Use a copier if you need multiple copies. Copier prices vary, but department copiers cost less than $.01 per page (about 1/10th that of printing on SSCC printers).
    • Do not use SSCC printers for personal use.
    • Avoid printing email. It’s backed up on the server, which is a sufficient record for most purposes.
    • Keep instructional printing to a minimum. SSCC funding is for research computing support. If you will be using a handout or article in a class or seminar, consider distributing photocopies of the article rather than having all the participants print their own copies. Read the information below on how you can submit print jobs electronically to the 6th floor copy center.
    • Consider non-printing options for journal articles. Store your articles in PDF format either online or on CDs. Increasing printing costs over recent years are mostly due to the printing of journal articles.

    SSCC members not adhering to these guidelines may lose their printing privileges. Keep in mind that agencies and departments may impose further restrictions on printing.

    In-building Printing Alternatives

    If you have print jobs not suitable for SSCC printers, consider these in-building alternatives:

    1. Check with your department or agency to see if they have a suitable printer. For example, the Department of Economics provides a special printer for graduate students.
    2. Print directly to printers at the Copy Center in 6120 Social Science. Charges vary depending on several factors, but it costs $.05/page for departments to print to 8.5×11 inch paper. Jobs submitted to Copy Center printers are held in a queue until you phone them with billing information or stop by and pay with cash or Wiscard. You can print directly to Copy Center printers from Winstat. Simply use the “COPY CENTER” queue to print to these printers. Note that turn-around time is usually one business day except during very busy times like around the beginning of semesters.

    Research groups and departmental offices may want to consider making arrangements to send print jobs directly to the Copy Center from their office PCs. The Copy Center will need to install a special print driver. At least two SSCC research groups use this convenient means of printing, especially for large print jobs or when they need multiple copies. Contact the Copy Center (262-5396) if you are interested in pursuing this option.

    If everyone reduces their printing volume by following the above guidelines, this will keep printing costs to a manageable level. Without everyone’s cooperation though, we will be forced to impose further restrictions like quotas or charge-backs, something none of us want.

  • Server Usage

    The SSCC has many powerful servers, but we have many more users. The servers are a shared resource, so it’s essential that all users share them properly.

    We therefore ask all our members to adhere to the following:

    1. Do not use more than 128 gigabytes of RAM on Winstat or WinSilo, including all the programs you are running. Instructions for tracking RAM usage are given below. Using more RAM can make the server unusable for everyone. (Linstat and LinSilo automatically limit each user to 350GB of RAM. Trying to use more RAM than is actually available will not go well on Linstat or LinSilo either, but the server will generally recover by killing jobs until it has memory available again.)
    2. Do not try to use more cores than a server actually has, either by running a single job that uses many cores or by running many jobs (see Computing Resources at the SSCC for server specifications). Software-specific instructions for tracking and setting the number of cores used are given below. Trying to use more cores than the server has will force the cores to switch between tasks repeatedly, slowing down the server for everyone.
    3. Do not put more than 15 jobs in the Condor or CondorSilo queues at a time. Doing so will prevent others from using Condor/CondorSilo at all until your jobs are finished.

    Exceptions to these policies may be made under rare circumstances. Contact the Help Desk if you believe your case merits an exception.

    SSCC staff regularly monitor the load on each of the servers. If we notice jobs that are in violation of these policies, we will contact the job owner, but let the job finish as long as it is not causing problems for other users. However, if the job disrupts usage for others, it may be terminated without prior notice.
    This will not keep the servers from getting busy on occasion, but it does ensure that they will not be overloaded by a single user or very small group of users.

    Tracking RAM Usage

    Most statistical software loads the data it is working on into RAM, and the amount of RAM used will be slightly larger than the size of the data used. Be aware of the size of your data set. If your data set takes a long time to load consider that a warning sign that you need to start paying attention to RAM.

    Some programs will tell you how much RAM they are using. For example, Stata lists current memory usage among the properties of the data set.

    To see how much memory any program is using on Winstat or WinSilo, right click on the gray bar at the bottom of the screen, choose Task Manager, go to the Processes tab, identify your job, and check the Memory column. To see how much memory any program is using on Linstat or LinSilo, run top.

    Controlling the Cores Used by Popular Programs at the SSCC

    Matlab

    If you are doing parallel processing, run parpool(N) where N should be replaced by the number of cores you want to use. Alternatively, click the arrow by Parallel on the Home tab, then Parallel Preferences, and set Preferred number of workers in a parallel pool to N.

    MPlus

    Include the following line in your program:

    analysis: process = N;

    where N should be replaced by the number of cores you want to use.

    Stata

    The number of cores used by Stata depends on which version you run. The default version on Winstat and WinSilo is Stata/SE, which uses one core, but you can use 16 cores if you run Stata/MP. On Linstat and LinSilo the default is Stata/MP, which will use up to 32 cores. Running Stata/MP at the SSCC has details.

    R

    R will only use one core unless you are using a package designed for parallel processing. If you are using such a package, consult its documentation to see how to control the number of cores it uses. For example, if you are using parLapply you should run makeCluster(N) where N should be replaced by the number of cores you want to use..

    SAS

    You do not need to set the number of cores used by SAS. SAS is set to use 4 cores on Winstat and WinSilo and 16 cores on Linstat and LinSilo.

    SPSS

    You do not need to set the number of cores used by SPSS. It will use 4 cores on Winstat and WinSilo.

    User-Written Programs

    If you are using OpenMP with FORTRAN, you can set the number of cores to use with:

    !$ call omp_set_num_threads(N)

    where N should be replaced by the number of cores you want to use. If you are using MPI such that your job can take advantage of multiple machines, consider asking for an account on the SSCC’s High Performance Computing Cluster.

  • Winstat Session Limits

    The practice of keeping Winstat sessions open for long periods raises several issues:

    • Every open session uses some of the server’s resources, including memory and licenses for any software running in the session, even when the session is disconnected.
    • Open sessions prevent SSCC staff from carrying out necessary server updates and maintenance.
    • Sessions that are open long enough develop problems that eventually make them unusable.

    Signing out of Winstat and signing back in is the equivalent of rebooting a regular PC, and doing so periodically is a good idea. You will also be redirected to what is currently the least busy Winstat server when you sign back in. Note that closing the Citrix Receiver on your computer disconnects from your Winstat session but does not sign out of it. Also, signing out of the Citrix StoreFront is not the same as signing out of Winstat. You can sign out of Winstat by right-clicking on its Windows logo button and then (left) clicking on Shut down or Sign out.

    For most users, idle Winstat sessions (meaning no user input, even if jobs are running) are disconnected after two hours, all sessions are disconnected after twenty-four hours, and disconnected sessions are shut down (along with any jobs they are running) after three hours.

    Users who need to run long jobs on Winstat can be exempted from these limits (contact the Help Desk to request an exemption). For users with long jobs access there is a maximum session length of three weeks, meaning that Winstat sessions will be shut down after three weeks, but no other limits apply. We suggest logging out of Winstat and then logging in before starting a new job, both to reset the three week timer and to ensure you’re on the least busy Winstat.

    However, this is intended only for running long jobs. Users who have been exempted from the normal session limits should still sign out in a similar time-frame if they are not running a long job. In order to perform server maintenance, SSCC staff may terminate Winstat sessions that are not running a long job but have been open beyond the normal limits.

  • Passwords

    Password Requirements

    All computers are now subject to regular attempts to gain unauthorized access, and the first line of defense is strong passwords.

    • Never give your SSCC password to anyone, even SSCC staff.
    • Never use your SSCC password for any other account or site. The only exception is that you may use your UW NetID password as your SSCC password if you so desire.

    All passwords must comply with the University’s Baseline Password Standard, which includes the following:

    Passwords chosen must

    • Be a minimum of eight (8) characters in length [14 characters for Silo users]
    • Be memorized; if a password is written down it must be secure
    • Contain at least one (1) character from three (3) of the following categories:
      • Uppercase letter (A-Z)
      • Lowercase letter (a-z)
      • Digit (0-9)
      • Special character (~`!@#$%^&*()+=_-{}[]\|:;”’?/<>,.)
      • Be private

    Passwords chosen must not:

    • Contain a common proper name, login ID, email address, initials, first, middle or last name
    • Be the same as your previous three passwords

    Passwords also should not consist of a single word, or a single word followed by a number. Consider using a password which combines multiple words, or “passphrase.”

  • Resetting Passwords

    As attempts to break in to computers become more and more common, it is critical that user’s passwords be secure. In the past when people have forgotten passwords SSCC staff have accepted requests to reset them in a variety of ways, some of which did not allow us to be absolutely sure of the identity of the person making the request. With the approval of the SSCC Steering Committee, we will be limiting the ways users can request that their passwords be reset. However, we have implemented a way that users can reset their own passwords via the web.

    Please visit https://www.ssc.wisc.edu/sscc_jsp/password/questions.jsp at your earliest convenience. This page will allow you to choose three security questions and answer them. Should you forget your SSCC password, you’ll be able to answer the questions you gave and reset your password by visiting https://www.ssc.wisc.edu/sscc_jsp/password/reset.jsp.

    Should you forget the answers to your security questions as well as your password, the SSCC Help Desk will still be able to help you. But we ask that you come to the SSCC staff offices in person and bring some form of picture ID with you. That way we can verify your identity. We recognize that this will not always be possible and we will work with you to find an alternative way of establishing who you are if needed. But it is our hope that having the ability to reset your own password using security questions will make these kinds of situations extremely rare.

  • Computer Support

    This document details SSCC computer support policies and procedures established by the SSCC Steering Committee. For special requests or questions about this policy, please contact Andy Arnold, SSCC Director.

    Which Computers the SSCC Supports

    SSCC staff provide support for desktop and laptop computers running Windows, OS X, or Linux that are primarily used to carry out University business by SSCC members from the Department of Economics, Department of Sociology, Center for Demography and Ecology, Center for Demography of Health and Aging, Center for Wisconsin Strategy, the Institute on Research for Poverty, and the UW Survey Center. This section describes the level and priority of support provided when these computers are bought with University funds versus when these computers are bought with personal funds.

    Computers used in home offices must be brought onto campus for service. Staff do not make home visits. Please schedule your service request before bringing in your computer from home to ensure a minimum turnaround period.

    Computers Bought with University Funds

    SSCC staff are prepared to provide the full range of services described in this document for computers bought with University funds by SSCC members that are used in campus or home offices to carry out University business.

    Computers Bought with Private Funds

    SSCC staff are prepared to provide all services described in this document except for hardware services for computers bought with private funds. During busy periods, computers bought with University funds receive a higher service priority than computers bought with private funds.

    Any SSCC member who wishes to use a privately owned computer in their campus office is welcome to do so with the following proviso in mind:

    Not under any circumstances is the SSCC or the University of Wisconsin responsible for any damage that occurs to any privately-owned computer while on campus.

    Requirements for Connecting to the University Network

    University policy requires that computers connected to the University of Wisconsin-Madison network by any means must:

    • Run up-to-date anti-virus software, when available.
    • Keep all operating system software, device firmware, application software and other software current with the latest security-related patches from the vendor.

    Which Operating Systems the SSCC Supports

    SSCC supports three operating systems: Windows, OS X, and Linux.

    Windows

    All PCs running one of the Windows operating systems in the Social Science Building can be part of the Microsoft Windows network. PCs are able to share printers, disk space, and applications that are provided by network servers.

    OS X

    Macs run successfully on the building network and are able to use network printers and use all software on SSCC’s Windows Terminal Servers via downloadable client software. It is also possible for Mac users to mount Linux and Windows network directories.

    Linux

    Linux computers also run successfully on the building network and are able to use network printers and mount Linux network directories. Linux computers can also be set up to run “stand alone” without access to our Linux network.

    Requesting Support

    Requesting computer support is very simple. Just contact SSCC’s Help Desk and your request will be logged and assigned to the appropriate staff person. Please do not contact SSCC staff directly because each request must go through Help Desk in order for the request to be logged and tracked properly.

    If you have a private office and do NOT want SSCC staff entering without your being there, please make this known at the time you make your request. The staff person assigned to service your computer will then arrange an appointment at a time convenient for both of you. Otherwise, it is SSCC policy for staff to service your computer at their earliest convenience which may be at a time you are not present. If this happens, the staff person will leave a note that they have been there.

    Getting Help from DoIT

    The Division of Information Technology (DoIT), the University of Wisconsin’s campus wide computer service department, offers computer services including a show room for purchasing hardware, an installation and repair service, a help desk for answering questions, and a backup service. DoIT’s help desk number is 264-4357 and is available 24-hrs/day.

    If you are not sure whether you should be requesting service from DoIT or SSCC, send your request to SSCC Help Desk and we’ll either take care of your request or refer you to the appropriate contact at DoIT. Except for hardware problems with computers bought with private funds and certain campus-provided administrative software, SSCC can usually take care of your computer support requests. Also, at the end of this document is a list of computer services not supported by SSCC staff. This list includes alternative sources of support.

    Computer Support Services

    • Computer support can be broken down into four main service areas:
    • Purchasing and setting up a computer
    • Network services and assistance with network related problems
    • Software services and assistance with software related problems
    • Hardware services and assistance with hardware related problems.

    The following sections provide a list of services for each of these four areas.

    Purchasing and Setting up a Computer

    SSCC staff are eager to help you make your choices when deciding which computer to buy. While it is true that almost any brand will work satisfactorily in the SSCC network, there are certain components of some systems that are best avoided. These types of problems can usually be avoided simply by consulting with SSCC staff before you buy.

    If you are not sure what to buy or you have special requirements for a particular component of the computer system (like the monitor), SSCC staff can offer advice in this area as well, including contacting vendors for specifications and prices and providing information for the purchase order.

    Once the new computer arrives, SSCC staff will set it up in your on-campus office. We will also copy files from an old system to the new one and remove any old equipment, if necessary. Old equipment may be installed elsewhere (an RA’s or faculty office, etc.), be used for parts, or surplused. Computers destined for home can only be partially set up before they leave campus. SSCC staff will not go to your home to set up your computer.

    Network Services and Assistance with Network Related Problems

    SSCC staff will provide and troubleshoot a physical network connection within the Social Science Building. This includes problems associated with hardware including installation and configuration of network interface cards (NIC). Contact DoIT’s help desk for problems associated with the UW wireless network (UWNet).

    If you are having problems with your physical network connection outside the Social Science Building, please contact the appropriate Internet service provider (ISP). For example, if you have a cable modem at home and are experiencing network outages, please contact Charter Communications or whichever ISP you purchased your cable modem service through.

    SSCC staff can offer advice with home networking issues. During busy periods, these requests may receive a lower priority. As stated above, the physical connection is not the responsibility of SSCC; however, we can do limited configuring for a system destined for home provided we have the necessary network information. Please keep in mind that each home network is unique and therefore SSCC is unable to support all scenarios. We will not visit your home to set up your network.

    Software Services and Assistance with Software Related Problems

    Refer to the SSCC Software Support Policy for a list of all the software for which SSCC staff can provide troubleshooting and consulting assistance about the software’s usage. Each software product on the list is assigned one of three support levels: full, limited, or minimal. These three support levels are defined in the document. SSCC staff do not provide troubleshooting and consulting assistance for software not on this list.

    SSCC staff will install and update any licensed software (whether it is on the software support list or not) that you have purchased to carry out University business. Please note that some software is only licensed for on-campus use and so cannot be installed on computers destined for off-campus locations.

    SSCC staff are not obliged to troubleshoot problems that may be caused by incompatibilities due to games or other nonprofessional software installed on the computer.

    Hardware Services and Assistance with Hardware Related Problems

    SSCC staff provide hardware diagnosis and repair including replacing/adding memory, hard drives, motherboards, fans, network cards, power supplies, etc. for University-owned computers. For privately owned computers, we can do routine diagnosis and repairs. Not under any circumstances is the SSCC or the University of Wisconsin responsible for any damage that occurs to any privately-owned computer.

    When the hardware is under warranty, we will contact the vendor and arrange to have the part shipped to us. When it is necessary to return the broken hardware component, we can arrange this with the vendor as well.

    When the hardware is not under warranty and it requires a part that is kept on hand, SSCC staff will gladly give it to you for no charge. Otherwise, we will order the part for you, but you must provide payment.

    SSCC has a few older laptops that we are happy to loan out while we repair your computer. If all of ours are checked out, you might try contacting your department or agency for availability. And, of course, you are also welcome to use our drop-in lab in the 4218 Social Science building.

    All routine maintenance of printers including cleaning and changing toner cartridges are your responsibility.

    Support Services Not Provided

    The following areas fall outside the realm of computer support:

    • Problems with computers not primarily used to carry out University business.
    • Computers NOT belonging to SSCC members from the Department of Economics, Department of Sociology, Center for Demography and Ecology, Center for Demography of Health and Aging, the Institute on Research for Poverty, and the UW Survey Center. Others can contact DoIT’s help desk (264-4357).
    • House calls. Computers used in home offices must be brought onto campus for service. However, we can usually recommend someone who will make house calls on their own time for an hourly fee.
    • Non-routine hardware repair for privately-owned computers. DoIT’s help desk (264-4357) can provide hardware repair on privately owned computers for a fixed rate.
      Problems with computers connecting the DoIT wireless network (UWNet). Contact DoIT’s help desk (264-4357).
    • Troubleshooting and consulting assistance for software not on SSCC’s list of supported software. DoIT’s help desk (264-4357) may be able to help. Otherwise, you should contact the software vendor or check out on-line support at the vendor’s web site.
    • Troubleshooting problems that may be caused by incompatibilities due to games or other nonprofessional software installed on the computer. DoIT’s help desk (264-4357) may be able to help. Otherwise, you should contact the software vendor or check out on-line support at the vendor’s web site.
    • Backup services for files on local drives. On the other hand, SSCC provides network drive space for computer clients and this space is backed up. Also, DoIT offers an inexpensive service for backing up local computer drives. Contact the DoIT Showroom at 265-7469 for details.
  • Software Support

    This page contains lists of Windows and Linux software that SSCC supports. For each of the software products appearing on the list, we indicate the level of support we can offer. These levels are to be interpreted as follows:

    Full Support

    SSCC staff will explore all known resources in attempting to provide users with answers to questions they may have on the product or to fix a problem that occurs when using it. The search for an answer will have a high priority although there can be no assurance that a solution will always be found.

    In order for software to fall in this category:

    • There must be a high level of expertise among SSCC staff on the software.
    • The software must be either commercially available with a reliable technical support service from the vendor or the software must be Public Domain software that is widely distributed and has sources of support such as electronic mail lists and web pages.
    • It must be heavily used software by SSCC members.

    Note that support for Public Domain software can never be as reliable as that for commercial software.

    Limited Support

    SSCC staff will make reasonable efforts to answer questions or resolve problems with the product. However, if more extensive research proves necessary, it will take on a secondary priority.

    In order for software to fall in this category:

    • There must be at least a limited level of expertise among SSCC staff on the software.
    • The software must be either commercially available (not necessarily with a reliable technical support service) or the software must be Public Domain software that is widely distributed and has sources of support such as electronic mailing lists and web pages.

    Minimal Support

    The product is made available to users but computing staff cannot do much other than reasonably assure its basic functioning. If problems arise or there are questions on its use which cannot be resolved immediately, little more can be undertaken than making recourse to available documentation sources.

    This category is reserved for noncommercial software, commercial software that is no longer renewed but kept installed until future operating system upgrades causes it to fail, software for which there is little user demand, and software for which there is no expertise among SSCC staff.

    If a software product does not appear on the list, then the software is unsupported and no help can be provided for it by SSCC staff.

    Users should always address questions on these products to SSCC Help Desk. The Help Desk will guarantee that any support issue brought to its attention will be handled, according to the level of support designated for the product, by the most appropriate computing staff member, and that the user will be kept informed as processing continues and/or is concluded. The Help Desk can make no guarantee at all for dealing with any request which is not passed through the Help Desk.

    This list certainly can be modified as circumstances warrant, particularly when trends show that particular products are becoming more, or less important within the agencies the SSCC supports. It should be clear that additions to the list and increased support levels need be balanced with removals or reduced support levels of other software. As well, most changes at the full and limited support levels will involve longer-term planning as they generally require significant lead times for staff training.

    Supported Software List

    The lists below represent the supported software for Windows Terminal Server, Lab Computers, and Linux. Unless otherwise listed, commands that are part of the operating system and widely used (like SSH and COMPRESS) are fully supported.

    The software listed below is not always available on each computer. Users should use the soft command or the software web page to check software availability.

    Winstat

    Software Support Level
    7-Zip Limited
    ATLAS.ti Minimal
    Access Limited
    Adobe Acrobat DC Limited
    ArcGIS Minimal
    Endnote Minimal
    EpiData Minimal
    Excel Limited
    GitAhead Limited
    Google Chrome Limited
    HLM Limited
    Internet Explorer Full
    JAGS Minimal
    Jupyter Notebook Limited
    Lisrel Minimal
    MPlus Full
    Mathematica Minimal
    Matlab Limited
    NVivo Limited
    Notepad++ Limited
    Outlook Limited
    PowerPoint Limited
    Python Limited
    R Full
    RStudio Full
    SAS Full
    SPSS Full
    Scientific Word Minimal
    SecureCRT Full
    SecureFX Full
    SmartDraw Minimal
    Stat/Transfer Full
    Stata Full
    TeX Live Minimal
    TeXstudio Minimal
    Word Limited
    X-Win32 Full

    Lab Computers

    Software Support Level
    7-Zip Limited
    Access Limited
    Adobe Acrobat DC Limited
    ArcGIS Minimal
    EpiData Minimal
    Excel Limited
    GitAhead Limited
    Google Chrome Limited
    HLM Limited
    Internet Explorer Full
    KDiff3 Minimal
    Mathematica Minimal
    Matlab Limited
    NVivo Limited
    Net Support School Minimal
    Notepad++ Limited
    PowerPoint Limited
    Python Limited
    R Full
    RStudio Full
    SPSS Full
    Scientific Word Minimal
    SecureCRT Full
    SecureFX Full
    Stat/Transfer Full
    Stata Full
    TeX Live Minimal
    TeXstudio Minimal
    VLC Minimal
    Word Limited
    X-Win32 Full

    Linux

    Software Support Level
    C/C++ (gcc/g++) Minimal
    C/C++ (gcc32/g++32) Minimal
    Fortran Minimal
    Fortran77 Minimal
    Ghostscript Minimal
    Ghostview Minimal
    HLM Limited
    Matlab Limited
    Octave Minimal
    OpenBUGS Minimal
    R Full
    SAS Full
    SFTP Full
    SPSS Full
    Stat/Transfer Full
    Stata Full
    TeX Live Minimal
    emacs Limited
    latex Minimal
    tex Minimal
    tpu Limited
  • Data Integrity

    This document describes how SSCC protects the integrity of the data it stores.

    Frequency of Backups

    SSCC backs up data three times a day: at 6:00AM, 12:00PM and 6:00PM. At those times, all new or changed files are copied into the backup system.

    What is Backed Up

    On SSCC’s Windows file system, home directories (mapped as the U: drive) and project directories (mapped as the X: drive) are considered permanent storage space and are backed up by SSCC staff. SSCC staff do not back up any files stored locally on members’ hard drives or files stored in the Y: drive (temp30days).

    On SSCC’s Linux file systems (both the general file system and the Silo file system), /home and /project directories are considered permanent storage space and are backed up by SSCC staff. Personal and departmental web sites are also backed up. /temp30days and /tmp are considered temporary storage and are not backed up.

    SMPH’s space in Silo (/smph, mapped as S:) is stored and backed up by DoIT as part of ResearchDrive. Their backup policies are described at https://kb.wisc.edu/96394, but the most important part is the following:

    Data stored on ResearchDrive is automatically backed up daily and replicated offsite for additional data protection. Snapshots are taken once a day and kept for 14 days and then weekly snapshots are kept for an additional two weeks. This allows you to recover accidentally deleted files or folders within the past two months.

    Retention of Backups

    Modern backup systems have complex methods for determining how long each copy of a file is kept. Rather than describing those methods in full, we will describe what would be available in the most common scenarios. If you need more information about retention of backups, contact the Help Desk and we’ll be happy to discuss it at whatever level of detail you need.

    What if I accidentally delete a file? Assuming the file was backed up once (i.e. it was in a backed up location during at least one backup) the most recent version of the file will be retained for one year from the time it was deleted.

    What if I need an older version of a file? If the most recent version of a file becomes unusable due to user or program error, the number of older versions available depends on how recently the file was changed. If the file was changed in the last 30 days, all backed up versions are retained for 30 days. After 30 days, one version is kept per week (the latest version in that week). After 60 days, one version is kept per month (the latest version out of all the weekly versions in that month) for the past year.

    What if disaster strikes? The most recent version of every file currently in a backed up directory is stored in two physical locations: the SSCC data center in the Sewell Social Sciences Building and a DoIT Datacenter in Fitchburg. If a disaster, whether technical or physical, were to destroy some or all of the data in SSCC’s file system, we would be able to restore it to its state as of the most recent backup. If the SSCC data center itself were destroyed, we would restore the data from the copy in Fitchburg (presumably after buying new equipment).

    Excluding Sensitive Data from Backups

    SSCC members are sometimes required by the data providers to agree to not make backup copies of the data they are given. If members have data of this type, they need to notify SSCC’s Help Desk that they do not want these data included in SSCC’s backups.

    Note that all backups are encrypted and unusable outside our backup system.

  • Web Publishing

    Use of the SSCC Web Server is governed by University computing policies, including the Guidelines for Appropriate Use and the Policy Governing World Wide Web Accessibility. Enforcement of these policies is the responsibility of the various agencies that constitute the SSCC.

    In addition, a member’s use of the Web Server must not require an inordinate amount of server resources or interfere with other uses of the server. This will be monitored by SSCC staff in the course of normal operations and will be enforced by SSCC staff as needed.

  • Identifying Legitimate SSCC Email

    The SSCC is regularly subjected to “phishing” attacks, where criminals try to trick members into revealing their SSCC usernames and passwords by sending email claiming to come from the SSCC. (They then typically use the victim’s SSCC account to send spam.) SSCC staff use the following procedures so that you can identify legitimate email from us:

    All legitimate email from the SSCC, including automated messages, will contain the personal name of an SSCC staff member. Visit our SSCC Staff page for a list of SSCC staff members. Legitimate SSCC email will not come from “the ssc.wisc.edu team” or a similarly generic term.

    Important announcements, like the annual account renewal announcement, will be digitally signed. If your email program can check digital signatures, you can verify that the message was sent by us. We are aware that most web mail programs cannot check digital signatures. Unfortunately many of the tools we use, including our help desk software, cannot sign messages either. Thus it is not the case that if a message is not signed it is not from us. But if it is signed and you can verify that the signature is valid, you can be sure that it is from us.

  • Support for the Campus Software Library

    The University makes a library of research software available to the entire campus community without charge. However, the statistical software in the library is already available on Winstat. Therefore:

    SSCC staff will not install or troubleshoot installation problems on the individual computers of students (university or personally owned) for any software from the Campus Software Library that is readily available on Winstat.

    The software in the campus library is “free” in the sense of “free puppy:” you don’t have to pay money for it, but you will have to spend time taking care of it. The installation process for SAS in particular is time-consuming and really intended for IT professionals. SSCC’s PC Support group does not have the resources to install or assist in the installation of library software on the individual computers of even a significant fraction of SSCC members.

    We also feel strongly that Winstat is a better research platform than individual PCs for most SSCC members. Because researchers’ individual computers are primarily used as a client for logging into the servers, they get high-performance hardware without having to pay for high performance computers or frequent upgrades. If one client computer fails, they can switch to another without any loss of productivity. If a server fails, researchers can simply log in again and be automatically directed to another server in the cluster. Data loss and data breach incidents are minimized because data are almost automatically stored on network drives.

    SSCC supports the campus software library: it has saved us a small but significant amount of money, and it is a tremendous benefit to researchers who don’t have access to resources like Winstat. However, we urge researchers who do have access to Winstat to take full advantage of it.