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Storing & backing up your data


Your research data is very valuable so it should be stored safely and securely. Doing so will reduce the likelihood of data loss. When thinking about storing research data, follow the LOCKSS principle: lots of copies, keep stuff safe

Best Practices for storing and backing up your data

  • Store your data on stable storage hardware. The table below summarizes different storage media, including their disadvantages. The ideal storage hardware will depend on the research project. However, more portable and fallible storage hardware (such as USB drives) should only be used for data transfer, not storage. 
Storage media Recommended? Disadvantages
Personal computer YES Prone to theft or loss
External hard drive YES Subject to degradation; lifetime is ~ 5 years
CD/DVD YES Subject to degradation due to mishandling; can be laborious to use
USB flash drive NO Easy to lose; very fallible
GrizzFiles (grizzfiles.oakland.edu/) YES Access is by request only. Best suited for storage of confidential data.
Cloud service (Google Drive, DropBox, Box, etc.) NO Don’t use for confidential data; Terms of Service may give the company a license to use your files (including data files)
  • Practice the 3-2-1 rule. You should have three copies of your data on two different storage media with one copy in an offsite location. For example, you could keep your data on your personal laptop and back it up on your personal external hard drive and OakShare (files.oakland.edu). Your laptop and external hard drive will be stored at your house whereas OakShare is stored on servers at OU.

  • Test your backups regularly, to ensure they are working properly and that you can access your data in case you lose the primary copy. 

  • Document your storage procedures. Share these procedures with your collaborators and update your documentation regularly.

  • Create digital back ups of your physical data (e.g. paper research notes, physical samples, etc.). For example, you could scan your lab notebooks or research notes in order to create digital backups. Don't forget to practice the 3-2-1 rule with your scans!

  • Think critically about storage location and size for your physical data. Ideally, the storage location will help prevent data degradation (such as paper deterioration due to sunlight). Apply your digital documentation and organization system to your physical data as well.



Organize and store your data


Created by Name / Updated on November 27, 2019 by Name

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