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Storing and backing up research data

You have invested a lot of time and effort in creating your data, so it makes sense to ensure you store your data safely.  You may be required by your department, PI or funder to store your data in a particular place, or have the flexibility to store it in multiple places. Whatever option(s) you use, you should try to only store what data you need to keep and store crucial data in more than one secure location.

 


Where should I store my data and how should I back it up?

Choosing the right way to store and backup your active data (data that are actively being used in your current research activities) will ensure you can access it easily and quickly and that it won't be lost.

 

You have invested a lot of time and effort in creating your data, so it makes sense to ensure you store your data safely.  You may be required by your department, PI or funder to store your data in a particular place, or have the flexibility to store it in multiple places. Whatever option(s) you use, you should try to only store what data you need to keep and store crucial data in more than one secure location.

  • Networked drives such as your H drive or department drive (G) -  Storing your data on networked drives minimises the risk of it being lost or stolen.
  • Personal computers and laptops -  these are convenient for storing your data temporarily but should not be used for storing master copies of your data. Local drives may fail or PCs and laptops may be lost or stolen leading to an inevitable loss of your data.

  • Portable storage devices (e.g. USB sticks, external hard drives) - Useful for transfering data from one device to another, but not suitable for long-term storage.

 

It’s a good idea to decide how you will back up your data from the outset of your project. The easiest way to do this is to set out your data backup strategy when you create a data management plan.

You should always ensure that you back up copies of important data in multiple locations so that you can restore it quickly in case of data loss. The simplest way to do this is to store your data on networked drives (H) and (G). These drives are backed up each night with a FULL backup at the weekend and INCREMENTALS each night. These backups are kept on-site for 35 days. An additional FULL backup is run every 4 weeks and kept off-site for 175 days.

The ‘3-2-1-rule for Backup’ is a simple way to remember best practice:

3. Keep 3 copies of important files

2. on 2 different media (if possible)

1. with 1 copy being stored offsite (or offline)