Storing your research data

The University Active DataStore provides a centralised, secure, supported data storage facility for electronic data, with ongoing access for the life span of a project.

Request active data storage via the button on the right. Each new project application is sent for line manager approval before being forwarded to the RDM team. Delays in granting requests are usually because approval has been delayed, so advise your line manager to expect a Service Desk email to avoid this delay.

You can use the Active DataStore for any research data, and it's of particular use if your data meets any of the following criteria:

  • Personal data covered by the Data Protection Act (for example, personal data related to staff, students or research participants)
  • Sensitive data or information covered by legal, commercial and/or contractual restrictions (for example, research output from commercially funded project), unless this is explicitly allowed for by contractual documentation
  • Data which is confidential and/or proprietary to the University.

We do not recommend you use any other storage facility, unless you have specific requirements in terms of space, networking or processing and you have already discussed such requirements with CSD.

Microsoft Teams has recently been introduced to the University. While staff become familiar with the Office 365 apps and managing security permissions appropriately, do not use Teams to store personal, sensitive, confidential or proprietary research data. During 2020, The University will have additional technical safeguards to support storing confidential and sensitive research data within the University Office 365 apps.  Do not use Teams until you are advised that these safeguards are in place.

In the unlikely event that you do look elsewhere to store your data, the following questions should be addressed:

  • Is the data replicated and backed up to a different location?
  • Is the storage provider dependable and reliable?
  • Are backups made with sufficient frequency so that you can restore in the event of data loss?
  • Is the data secure? Is data integrity protected?
  • Is access for use and re-use assured?
  • Does the storage meet the requirements of the university, the funder and legislation?
  • Selecting what data to keep and what to bin
  • Data Management: The 3-2-1 Rule (University of Wisconsin).

Alternative storage options

You should familiarise yourself with the University Information Security Policy when considering alternative storage options.

Departmental storage

It is important that any storage system managed within the department follow the same principles in place for the University central storage. For example, multiple copies of data should be stored in separate physical locations to guard against any environmental issues such as flooding or fire.

Local drives

Data stored on local drives (on the hard drives of workstations, PCs and laptops) can be lost due to the drive becoming faulty or the laptop being lost or stolen.

Cloud storage

You should familiarise yourself with the  University's Information Security Policy. 

This type of storage is convenient for short-term data processing but should not be relied upon for storing master copies of data.

Commonly used services, such as Dropbox and Box, will not be appropriate for sensitive data and their service level agreements should be studied before using them to store your research data.

Portable drives

External hard drives, USB drives, DVDs and CDs are convenient, cheap and portable but should not be used for long-term storage as their longevity is uncertain and they can be easily damaged. They should never be used for unencrypted sensitive data, as they can be easily lost.

Paper records

If you have any physical paper based data that you are required to retain, please contact the Records Management team or visit their webpages for further guidance.