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Data Management and Sharing: Storage

Information for those who wish to know more about writing and implementing plans for data management and sharing


Storage refers to preserving your data files in a secure location you can access readily. Storage systems often provide mirroring, in which data is written simultaneously to two drives. This is not the same thing as backup since alterations in the primary files will be mirrored in the second copy. There are several options for data storage, each with their own pros and cons:

  • PC/Laptop
    • Pros: Convenient for active data
    • Cons: Easily lost/stolen; fail; manual backup
  • Network
    • Pros: Automatic backup and security
    • Cons: Access/capacity limitations
  • External devices
    • Pros: Low cost; portable; easy use
    • Cons: Easily lost/stolen; fail
  • Remote/Cloud
    • Pros: Global access; collaboration
    • Cons: Security/privacy limitations
  • Physical storage (e.g. notebooks)
    • Pros: Convenient; tangible
    • Cons: Manual backup


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.

To safeguard your important data assets, remember both storage and backup are essential.

  • A granting agency may require you to retain data for a given period and may ask you to explain in a data plan how you will store and back it up.
  • Storing and backing up your data ensures that it will be there when you need to use it for publications, theses, or grant proposals.
  • Good preservation practices help make your data available to researchers in your lab/research group, department, or discipline in the future.


What should you backup?
Everything that would be required to restore data in event of loss (data/software/scripts/documentation)


How many copies?
Follow the Rule of 3: Original copy, second local copy, remote copy


How often?

Backup frequency is dependent on the project and the data. Consider how much data you would be willing to lose.


What type?
Full: Backup all files
Incremental: Backup only files that have changed since last backup (either full or incremental)
Differential: Backup only files that have changed since last full backup

For more details:

Test your system: Go through the exercise of accessing backup functions to see that the procedure works & you can fully restore your data.

Storage Options at University of Nebraska-Lincoln

University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Information Technology Services provides an array of low cost storage and backup solutions for researchers. For those interested in backing up their own desktop computer or server, ITS offers NSave. For a low monthly cost, you can effortlessly back up your important data. NSave includes both local and daily offsite backups, versioning, and encrypted file transfer. For more information on NSave backup, visit the NSave website or send questions to the NSave email.

There are also custom storage options available, including locating your own server in an ITS Data Center or storing data on ITS's file servers.

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