Skip to main content

Research Data Management: Data Storage and Security

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


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

Data Security

Data storage arrangements will also need to reflect the sensitivity of your data; you may have data that are covered by privacy laws or confidentiality agreements and for these you will need to consider how data security will be guaranteed e.g. use of data encryption, passwords, etc.

The UK Data Archive also provides good guidance on how to store sensitive or confidential data 

You will also need to consider how your data will be shared during the project.

Backing Up

Avoid single points of failure


A single point of failure occurs when it would only take one event to destroy all data on a device. Imagine if that happened right now. Do you have a backup of your data to restore from? Is it current? Who is responsible for ensuring appropriate storage and regular backups?

Good practices for avoiding single points of error: 

  • Use managed networked storage whenever possible 
  • Move data off portable media 
  • Never rely on one copy of data 
  • Do not rely on CD or DVD copies to be readable 
  • Be wary of software lifespans

Replicate your data to a reliable backup system

  • Make 3 copies 
    • E.g. original + external/local + external/remote 
    • E.g. original + 2 formats on 2 drives in 2 locations 
  • Geographically distribute and secure 
    • Local vs. remote, depending on needed recovery time 
    • Personal computer, external hard drives or university servers may be used

Use a README.txt file to create an inventory of the locations of your important data. This might include descriptions of users, computers, server addresses, backup locations and third-party storage details.

Organise a back-up system

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. 

Backup Integrity


UCD IT Services has a dedicated Research IT support team which is happy to discuss the options available to you regarding data storage or any of your Research IT requirements. Contact the Research IT team at

Data Classification & Storage Comparison

UCD Cloud Computing Evaluation Guidelines