Penn State Data Management Plan Tutorial

5.4 Taking a Distributed Approach to Data Storage

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Depositing your data to a formal repository such as those mentioned in the previous section is a good practice for research projects.

However, preserving your data and making them accessible in only one place is not enough. A distributed approach to storing your data is highly recommended. By being part of a campus community, a researcher has options beyond local storage of her data. One should investigate options beyond campus as well. This is something librarians and archivists can help with, as described in the video below.

Link to YouTube video.

Below are ways you can distribute storage of your data (based on U. Minnesota Libraries' "Storing Data Securely,".):

  • Local options - easy to access your data and control access, but you are responsible for backing up that data,
    • Internal hard drive (computer hard drive)
    • External hard drives - extensive storage capacity is increasingly inexpensive to purchase
    • College or departmental servers, local networks
  • Campus-based options - some at no cost, others for a fee; facilitates collaboration; users have less control.
  • Cloud-based options - someone else takes care of your data and manages it; not recommended for sensitive data, because it's third-party storage.

Quick Tips for Storage and Backup of Data

  • Keep at least three copies of your data
  • Have “master” or original files from which copies get made
  • Put files in external but local storage, such as an external hard drive (but not on optical media)
  • Also, put files in external but remote storage, or on remote servers

​​This way, files are physically (geographically) dispersed for disaster recovery purposes.