Bootcamp: Storing data

Storing data
Section 6 of 8

You are likely to invest a lot of time and effort in creating or collecting your data. Data should be kept safe and secure. Lost data can be costly and slow to recover, and at worst may be lost for ever. During the course of your research you must ensure that all your research data, regardless of format, is stored securely, backed up and maintained.

lost laptop poster

Data files can be lost in many different ways. Imagine what would happen if your computer hard drive were to be lost, or if you misplaced a memory stick, or accidentally deleted some files. Even if files are not lost completely, they can become corrupted and possibly unusable. You should think about how best to protect yourself against these kinds of losses, and consider whether you are doing enough.

Storing your data in an appropriate way will help you to work more flexibly, easily and quickly. Appropriate storage solutions can also simplify the processes of version control and collaboration with others. Try to abide by the following rules:

  • If possible, only store what you really need to keep
  • Store essential data in more than one secure location
  • If you choose to store working data or extra backup copies of data on portable devices, for example CDs, DVDs and memory sticks (a.k.a. USB sticks or flash drives), you should remember that these types of media do not have an infinitely long life. As well as becoming obsolete (when was the last time you saw a computer with a 5 1/4" disc drive?), CDs and DVDs fail, and memory sticks malfunction, get lost or end up in the wash. Portable storage devices are very convenient though, and useful for data you can afford to lose
  • In general it is important not to rely on such devices as your only copy of important data. Instead you should identify and make use of a robust storage facility
  • The University of Bristol Research Data Storage Facility (RDSF)

    The University Research Data Storage Facility provides a resilient storage solution that is open to researchers from any discipline, with the capacity to expand as demand increases. Currently, 5TB of disk storage is provided to each Data Steward free of charge. A Data Steward must be a Bristol researcher and must take long term responsibility for the data. If you are interested in using the RDSF, you should discuss your storage needs and seek guidance from the Advanced Computing Research Centre (ACRC) staff who administer the Facility before completing an application form.

    1. What do you think is the average life expectancy of a computer hard drive, according to lead manufacturers?

    Image: Day 10 Lost by Remix Dave

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