Protecting your data
Where possible you should use University-provided storage (OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, Research Data Storage, or the Secure Data Research Hub; see Storing/sharing data for full details) as these options are more secure and offer robust protection for your data.
All University-provided storage have access controls that enable you to manage access permisions for the data, and OneDrive for Business and SharePoint have a built-in versioning system so if you accidently delete a file or folder you will be able to access a previous version.
Personal laptops and computers
If you are using your own personal laptop or computer for storing your data, you should ensure that your data are protected and that you follow the University's Bring Your Own Device Policy and Information Security For Portable And Removable Media Devices Policy. You will also need to back up your data yourself, as the data will not be backed up automatically by the University. You can either automatic the backup (e.g., using Apple Time Machine or Windows File History) or get into a regular routine of performing a manual back up of your data.
Always back up in more than one place if possible. You can back up to another folder on your computer hard drive but this is not recommended because if your hard drive fails then you could lose the original and backup at the same time. The easiest and cheapest places to back up to are not necessarily the best. USB sticks are very common media for backups, however, they can be easily corrupted and should not be used as long term back up solutions. They should also be encrypted. Although external hard drives can also fail, they do tend to be more reliable. They also enable you to back up the majority of your work in one place. External hard drives should also be encrypted to help secure the data.
A backup strategy
If you do not have a backup strategy in place, you risk losing all of your research data, which could be costly and time-consuming to replace, or it may not be possible to replicate. Therefore, to prevent the impact of losing your data, it is crucial that you implement a backup strategy throughout the lifetime of your project.
A good strategy to follow is the 3-2-1 principle:
- ensure that you have at least 3 copies of all your important data
- store these copies on at least 2 different media
- keep at least 1 of these copies in a physically different location
It is also important to regularly check your data backups to ensure that no data has been lost or corrupted.