Safe and secure storage of research data is essential to protect against data loss, unauthorised access, and ensure compliance with institutional, funder, and legislative requirements.
When choosing storage options consider where, when and how many times the data will be backed up, data security, and whether it will permit access for the research team and collaborators. Also consider whether you will need to archive your data at the end of your project and whether your chosen storage solution will permit this.
Digital data solutions
To safeguard your data, we recommend using storage systems provided by the University, such as the Research Data Storage (RDS) Service and your P Drive. These systems are regularly and automatically backed up, and may be accessed on-campus and off-campus.
Research Data Storage Service
- Intended for use by research groups and supported by IT Services. Principal Investigators can apply for storage space using the request storage space form and can then grant access to other researchers and students.
- Each research project is entitled to 8TB of (replicated) storage, free at the point of use. Additional storage may be requested - charges apply.
- Accessible remotely via GlobalProtect Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- Hourly backups which can be accessed within 24 hours and daily backups which can be accessed within 35 days
- Personal P drives available to all University staff and students
- Accessible remotely via GlobalProtect Virtual Private Network (VPN) or MyManchester
- Automatic daily backups
- IT Services provide further details and support
Portable devices, such as laptops, external hard drives, and DVDs, are vulnerable to failure, damage, loss and theft so should not be the only data storage used. If you store additional working copies of data on portable devices, then:
- schedule automatic synchronisation and/or regular backups
- password-protect and encrypt the devices
- ensure they are physically secure
Dropbox for Business is the University-endorsed secure cloud-based file sharing and synchronisation service that lets you share large files and folders securely with external collaborators. Over 1TB of storage is provided and it is compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS and Android.
Other cloud services that have not been endorsed by the University (e.g. Google Drive) should not be used for personal or confidential data. For further information see University guidance on cloud services.
Making backups ensures that original data files can be restored from backup copies, should originals be damaged or lost. It is helpful to regularly document and test your backup procedures to ensure they are functioning as planned.
The 3-2-1 principle offers a good rule of thumb:
- Save three copies of your data,
- two locally (on two different devices),
- and one off-site.
This means that you will have your original copy and two additional backup copies. You might decide to keep extra copies of critical data, such as raw data (i.e. as you have collected or received it) that might be irreplaceable.
Backing up your data at regular intervals minimises the amount of data you can lose. When deciding how regularly you should back up your data, consider how many hours or days of work you are willing to lose (this is likely to vary at different stages of your research).
- Research IT provides support and guidance on digital data solutions
- Information Governance Office provides support and guidance on information security and a risk review service