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Storage Guidelines

Background

Different types of file storage service are available:

Home Drive

Available to all, this storage is often known as “H:drive” and contains “My Documents”, where your documents are saved by default when using University managed desktops. Consider it your personal workspace: a place to save work-in-progress and for keeping files that are not research data, such as reports or papers, and that don’t need to be shared with others. Everyone has 1GB of individual filestore to begin with, you can see how much you’re using, and request more.

Student Project Storage

This storage is intended solely for student project data, and should not be used for personal data, or laptop backups, for example. On University managed desktops this space appears as part of “X: drive”. Supervisors or students wishing to make use of this service for storage within a project as part of their taught academic study, should contact their faculty IT support team as early as possible in the process.
 

Research Storage

The research storage service has been designed to provide large capacity storage that meets University research data guidelines. 1TB is available at no charge for every academic member of staff, with an additional 1TB for second and subsequent funded, active research projects. The storage is intended for use by academic staff and postgraduate research students, but must be requested by the project Principal Investigator (PI) or supervisor. This storage is intended solely for research data, and should not be used for personal data, or laptop backups, for example. Researchers who anticipate requiring more than 1TB for a potentially data-abundant project should contact their faculty IT support team as early as possible in the process. On University managed desktops this space appears as part of “X:drive”

Shared Storage

Typically available to staff and postgrads, the service has been designed to provide shared space for administrative and departmental files. Your local IT supporter will usually manage shared storage and each department is allocated an initial 1TB. On University managed desktops this storage also appears as part of “X:drive”

Backup

The resilient file storage services listed above are backed up by Computing Services on a daily basis and backups are kept for 3 months. If you use these services, you do not need to keep your own backups. You can attempt to recover files yourself using the ‘Previous Versions’ feature, or you can request assistance with file recovery. If your files are not on Computing Services storage services, we will not have backups of them.

Remote Access

You can access all these storage areas from anywhere, on a variety of devices, through our files.bath.ac.uk service.

Security & Encryption

The storage services outlined above are secure, in that files can only be accessed by those who have permission, and only via secure, authenticated connections. Occasionally, data you have collected or obtained from third parties may demand security levels beyond those provided as standard. If you believe you have such a requirement, you should discuss this with Computing Services, via your local IT support in the first instance.

Encryption can present a risk to good data practice. You should encrypt only those files and folders you are required to, and IT support can assist you with effective encryption key management to ensure your information can always be retrieved. In order to comply with the University’s Code of Good Practice in Research more than one person at the University must have access to the encryption keys. As with all passwords, you must ensure that you keep these keys secure.

If you need to move files securely, portable memory sticks and hard drives are available from the campus computer shop in the Library. As with all such portable devices, these are not suitable for long-term archive.

Sharing Data with Others

Currently the most effective way to collaborate and share data with external partners is to have Computing Services accounts created for those involved. Initially approach your department’s ‘designated maintainer’, who will make the arrangements in accordance with the process for adding non-payroll roles to the University account system. Your external partners will then be able to follow the same instructions that University staff use to access their files, but will only have access to the folders that you have chosen to make available to them.

If your collaboration is mostly centred around text-based documents, you may wish to consider using the University Wiki, which makes it simple for a group of people to collaborate. Unless you wish your documents to be publicly accessible, external wiki collaborators will still require BUCS accounts as detailed above.

Computing Services hope to overcome a number of security challenges and add simple-to-use file sharing features to the files.bath.ac.uk service soon.

Cloud Storage Services

Although consumer cloud storage services (such as Dropbox and OneDrive) are popular due to their ease of use, they do not meet the requirements of many of the University’s data policies. They often store data in jurisdictions with very different privacy and data protection laws to the UK and are therefore particularly unsuitable for confidential, sensitive or valuable research data.

Consumer cloud storage often makes proper retention and reuse difficult or impossible. Depending on how they are used, it may not be possible for PIs to access data of previous researchers. As such, consumer cloud storage does not fully comply with the University’s Code of Good Practice in Research, which requires more than one person at the University to have access to research data.

Finally, the current cloud storage services do not interact well with the existing University storage services and come with little or no guarantee of continued availability.

More detailed recommendations are available but in short, for research data, especially those that are confidential, commercially valuable, operationally critical or sensitive, you should make use of the Computing Services data storage services listed above and not use consumer cloud storage services (such as Dropbox and OneDrive). If you are unsure you should only use the Computing Services data storage services.

Non-digital data storage

If you work with non-digital data, you may wish to digitise them to help you organise, store and back them up. You can scan paper-based data to your University Home (H:drive) drive from any Managed Print Service device, and options are available for other materials.

Disposal of Data

At the end of appropriate retention periods, you may need to dispose of data. The University provides advice on the disposal of computers and media storage devices. Your IT supporter can arrange for data stored on Computing Services data storage services to be securely destroyed.

Bespoke Storage Support

If you have any requirements, comments, queries or concerns regarding any aspect of data storage, please contact IT support as soon as you can ― this helps Computing Services to better understand your needs and ensures we are able to plan for, and deliver, the most appropriate storage solutions for the University.

Roger Jardine
Assistant Director, Computing Services

Last updated: 15 April 2015