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Storing and sharing your data

Storing/sharing data

University-provided storage

The University provides all researchers with access to a range of secure data storage options.

OneDrive for Business provides all students and staff with 5TB of online storage that allows you to keep an online copy of your data, which are accessible from any workstation around the world that has an internet connection. This also allows you to synchronise your data across your various devices (eg, desktop, laptop, and mobile device) and allows you to share your data with other users. More information on how to share data using OneDrive for Business can be found in the Digital Hub help guides.

SharePoint is designed for collaboration. Use it to store and share documents, and work collaboratively on files in real time. A SharePoint site enables you to easily collaborate on files across a team, and build branded pages. Within these pages you can customise the information visitors and team members see, including files you may want to share. SharePoint also integrates with Microsoft Teams to enhance group working.

We recommend using OneDrive for Business for personal file storage and SharePoint for collaborating. Both OneDrive for Business and SharePoint can be accessed without the need to use a VPN connection. Note that other online file sharing tools are not as secure as OneDrive for Business or SharePoint and as such they should not be used for storing/sharing personal or sensitive data.

RDS is a new 5PB data storage facility available to all researchers at the University of Exeter. This facility will become available from the beginning of April and details of how to apply to use it will be updated on here.

The key features of the Research Data Storage are:

  • Plenty of space for large quantities of data; the equivalent of approximately 625,000 university laptops.
  • Accessible on campus and remotely using a web-based access platform.
  • Added security with the use of SSO as well as unique access keys.
  • Lots of configurable settings for data sharing.
  • Centrally managed and supported by Exeter IT.

For guidance on how to use RDS, please visit the Digital Hub guidance pages.

To apply to use RDS as part of your research project, please complete this request form.

The University of Exeter is now one of only a handful of institutions that has a cloud-based defined research data storage environment that provides researchers access to a highly compliant environment to store, access, and manipulate highly sensitive or confidential data. It conforms to NHS Digital Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DPST) and certain National Registry requirements, as well as eventual compliance to ISO27001 which is often required for commercial academic partnerships.

The tool is built using Microsoft Azure to host a Windows Virtual Desktop for each project, allowing the confidential storing and analysis of the data using familiar software. With extra security protocols in place for both the users and the system, and clearly defined roles with limited permissions for each, SDRH becomes accessible from anywhere whilst still being highly secure.

The key features of the Secure Data Research Hub are:

  • Conforms to NHS Digital Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DPST) and certain National Registry requirements. The tool will soon offer compliance to ISO27001, often required for commercial academic partnerships.
  • Using the Azure Cloud and Windows Virtual Desktops for the storage and analysis of data using familiar tools. Specialist software by request.
  • The University of Exeter is now one of only a handful of institutions that has a defined research data storage environment providing researchers access to a highly compliant environment to store, access, and manipulate highly sensitive or commercially valuable data.
  • Accessed from anywhere with your University logins with additional security measures in place.
  • Allows secure collaboration with colleagues within the University according to Role Based Access Control principle.
  • Grant acceptable, flexible costs based on data usage and number of users to cover the costs of security and administration.

A managed Windows 10 device is required to upload or download data, all other interaction will be performed on a virtual desktop (this can be done using un-managed hardware).

To apply to use SDRH as part of your research project, please complete this request form, or for any questions about SDRH, please contact Research IT via: Exeter IT Helpdesk.

The University also uses the following legacy file storage:

  • U:Drive: secure individual storage on a central fileserver. Note that this is no longer provided to staff and students who joined after August 2020, and we recommend all staff and students to use OneDrive for Business where possible.
  • N:Drive: a shared network filespace available to colleges and departments, which can be used for sharing data with colleagues within your department/college, enabling collaborative working. Where suitable, we recommend using SharePoint rather than the N:Drive.

Portable storage devices

Portable storage devices can be used for storing and sharing data, however, data stored on these devices are more vulnerable and less secure than data stored on University-provided storage. Therefore, you should not rely on portable storage devices as a storage solution for your only copy of important data, and since these type of devices are easily lost or stolen, if you do need to use them, it is important to select those that automatically support encryption.

Using University-supported cloud-based storage options such as OneDrive or SharePoint can remove the need to use portable storage devices to transport data, as data stored on OneDrive or SharePoint are available from any device or location.

Storing non-electronic files

Confidential and/or sensitive non-digital material should be stored in accordance with your ethical approval. You may wish to contact the Research Ethics and Governance team for advice on ensuring these files are stored in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation.