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Research Data Management: Data Backup

Data Backups and Security

Backups

Keeping reliable backups is an integral part of data management. Your personal computer, external hard drives, departmental or university servers are examples of tools used for backing up data. CDs or DVDs are not recommended because they fail so frequently. The UK Data Archive provides additional guidelines on data storage, back-up, and security.

Backup Your Data

  • Make 3 copies (e.g. original + external/local + external/remote)
  • Have them geographically distributed (local vs. remote depends on recovery time needed)

Data Backup Options

  • IMSS Managed Storage
  • Cloud Storage - some examples of private sector storage resources include:
    • Amazon S3 -Requires client software, no encryption support
    • S3-based Remote Hard Drive Services such as Elephant Drive and Jungle Disk
    • Mozy (from EMC) Free client software, 448-bit Blowfish encryption or AES key
    • Carbonite Free client software, 1024Free 1024-bit Blowfish encryption

Secure Your Data

  • Unencryptedis ideal for storing your data because it will make it most easily read by you and others in the future. But if you do need to encrypt your data because of its sensitivity:
    • 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 is also ideal for storage, but if you need to do so to conserve space, limit compression to your 3rd backup copy

Test your backup system

In order to make sure that your backup system is working properly, try to retrieve your data files and make sure that you can read them. You should do this upon initial setup of the system and on a regular schedule thereafter.