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Research Data Management: Storage & Backup

Bringing together University resources and services to facilitate researchers in the production of high quality data.

At a Glance

A data storage strategy is important because digital storage media are inherently unreliable, unless they are stored appropriately, and all file formats and physical storage media will ultimately become obsolete.

 

Help@UCD: Research IT

The Research IT Services team provides a consultancy service for all aspects of research related IT. This consultancy involves meeting with researchers, discussing their research IT requirements, both project-specific and general, and helping to identify the best solutions and implement them. Contact the Research IT team at researchit@ucd.ie.

Help@UCD: Personal Backup Plan

Help@UCD: UCD Cloud Computing Evaluation Guidelines

3 Storage and backup during the research project

3a How will data and metadata be stored and backed up during the research project?

Points to consider: 
  • Describe where the data will be stored and backed up during the research project and how often the backup will be performed. 

Which File Storage should I use?

The University recommends the use of Google Drive and Novell Drive (NetStorage) to store files such as documents and spreadsheets. 

We do not recommend storing files on a personal computer or local drives, on USB keys or other portable storage, in consumer storage solutions such as Dropbox, or in a personal Google account. While OneDrive is available to all staff and students who have access to Microsoft Office 365, it is not the recommended cloud-based storage service in UCD. Personal data cannot be stored in any of the above options.

If your research project involves large data volumes, computational analysis or has other complexities engage with us through Research IT’s Solution Architecture service. Research IT can assist with equipment specification, finding the best location to host your system on campus or a cloud based approach can sometimes be the best fit. www.ucd.ie/itservices/ourservices/researchit/solutionarchitecture. 

Backing up your Data

Backing up your research data regularly can protect you from the unexpected. Keep a few months' worth of backups and make sure the files can be retrieved if needed.

  • Before you backup it's important that you categorise your data according to appropriate needs for protection, handling and compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • If you are backing up encrypted data ensure your backups are also encryped.
  • The ideal backup strategy will typically include both an online backup cloud service (e.g., Google Drive, OneDrive, H:Drive) and an offline backup device (e.g., external hard drives, USB flash drives) to ensure your data is secure no matter what happens to your mobile device or computer. If you are working with sensitive research data, however you may need to think a little bit more carefully about your backup strategy.
  • Your critical data should never reside in a single place. Make sure your backups are stored in separate locations. For example, you could keep your External Drive backup locked in your office at work and your USB Flash Drive backup in a safe and secure place at home. However if you are working with sensitive research data this may not be appropriate.
  • When using online cloud backups make sure you use a strong and secure password and log out of the service when not using it.
  • Routinely test your backup solution to ensure you can recover your data in the event that you do actually need to restore from a backup.

To reduce risk as far as possible, backups should be made after every change to data or at regular intervals. You can use an automated backup process to back up frequently used and critical data files.