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Library Research Guides

Research Data Management (Health Sciences)


Storage refers to preserving your data files in a secure location you can access readily. This is not the same thing as backup (described below).

Storing your data properly ensures that it will be there when you need to use it for publications, theses, or grant proposals. A granting agency may require that you retain data for a given period and may ask you to explain in a data plan how you will store and backup your data.

Storage Best Practices:

  • Unencrypted storage is the easiest to use and work with as it is the easiest to access. However if you are working with sensitive data you may be required to encrypt your files.
  • Keep passwords and keys on paper (2 copies), and in a PGP (pretty good privacy) encrypted digital file
  • Don’t rely on 3rd party encryption alone
  • Uncompressed files are ideal for storage files you will be accessing frequently, however due to space concerns you may need to compress your files, or at least your backup files.

​Data Storage and Backup, University of Wisconsin Research Data Services
Data Storage, Backups, and Security, MIT Libraries


Keeping reliable backups is an integral part of data management. 

Backup refers to preserving additional copies of your data in a separate physical location from data files in storage. Backup preserves older copies so you can restore your data if accidental deletion/alteration or a disaster such as fire, flood, or hardware malfunction damages your data in storage.

Back up Best Practices:

  • Make 3 copies (e.g. original + external/local + external/remote).
  • Have them geographically distributed (local vs. remote depends on recovery time needed).
  • Test your backup system ensure files can be recovered without corruption or data loss; do this both when you first set up your backup system, and then periodically throughout the course of your project.

Backup Options:

  • Hard drive (examples: via Vista backup, Mac Timeline, UNIX rsync)
  • Departmental or university servers
  • CDs or DVDs are not reliable backup mediums due to frequent failure. 

Data Storage and Backup, University of Wisconsin Research Data Services
Data Storage, Backups, and Security, MIT Libraries

Storage Options

Off-Site Storage Options

  • Amazon S3 - Requires client software, no encryption support
  • Elephant Drive - S3-based remote hard drive service
  • Jungle Disk - S3-based remote hard drive service
  • EMC Mozy - Free client software, 448-bit Blowfish encryption or AES key
  • Carbonite - Free client software, 1024 Free 1024-bit Blowfish encryption