Storing enduring data
Some considerations for data storage:
- Access: who has permission to see and/or use the data
- Accessibility: convenience and ease of access, e.g. is it possible to access from one or more locations
- Backups: frequency that copies are made of the data
- Security: safety of the data from loss
- Speed: bandwidth
- Space: storage capacity
Backing up your data
Data should be backed up on a regular, scheduled basis to protect from accidental data loss. The best time to develop a backup strategy is at the beginning of your project.The backup schedule should be set for regular intervals as well as when modifications are made to critical files.
- Who will be responsible
- Which files will need to be backed up
- Automation ability
- Perceived value of the data
- Level of risk associated with the data
- Medium(s) you will use.
A good 'rule of thumb':
- Maintain three copies of your data – the original copy, an external local copy, and an external remote copy
- Use at least two different media types, such as a network server, external hard drive, and/or cloud server
- Have one copy offsite in a different physical location
Choosing data storage
A data storage matrix has been created to help researchers identify solutions to meet their storage needs. Click on the grid below for data storage options.
- If working on a networked server, check with your IT group to find out backup schedules and storage capacity
- If working on a cloud server be aware of bandwidth capabilities, any policies or terms associated with use, and legal issues and server location as servers may be located outside Canada
- When considering your backup schedule, media, and frequency, you should also consider if you have confidential or sensitive data as these data may need different treatment
- The Office of Research and Innovation provides online training around secure handling of data as it relates to human subjects.
- Backup copies should contain any metadata or readme files and you should have a documented contingency plan in place in case you need to restore lost data
- It is also important to regularly check the security of storage locations as well as the completeness and integrity of stored data files