Manage Your Research Data: Backup, Storage & Security

This guide provides a primer on the fundamentals of data management.

Storage, Backup and Security for Your Data

Storage, Backup and Security

  • Fundamental and interrelated components of a data management strategy
  • Together ensure ongoing integrity of research data
  • Project planning and data management must account for all three

Storage and Security Best Practices

  • Use hard drive or tape backup system
  • Unencrypted is ideal because most easily read by you and others in the future unless encryption is required
  • If encrypted because of human subjects then keep passwords and keys on paper (2 copies) and in encrypted digital files
  • Uncompressed is ideal for storage, so to conserve space limit compression to your 3rd backup copy
  • Electronic data should be saved on a device that has the appropriate security safeguards such as:
    • unique identification of authorized users,
    • password protection,
    • encryption,
    • automated operating system patch (bug fix),
    • anti-virus controls,
    • firewall configuration, and
    • scheduled and automatic backups to protect against data loss or theft. 

Backup Best Practice = 3 Copies

Graphic of three backup file types

Always maintain your original file, an external, locally stored file, and an external, remotely stored file. 

Questions to Ask Yourself about Securing Data

  • How often should data be backed up?
  • How many copies of data should you have?
  • Where can you store your data?
  • How much server space can you get?
  • Should your data be encrypted?

Storage Options

Storage Options

  • Internal, local hard drives
  • Networked storage
  • External storage devices
  • Physical storage
  • Remote storage services (The Cloud)
    • Private sector services: Amazon S3, Elephant Drive, Jungle Disk, Mozy, Carbonite

Things to Remember

  • Data sharing is not data storage
  • Read terms of service
  • Consult your PI or institutional policies

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