Storing your data

Your research data are valuable assets that you have probably invested considerable time, effort and money in creating. Protecting your data from loss is therefore an important aspect of data management during your project.

To protect your data you need to consider how they are stored, backed-up and secured whilst you are still working on them.

When considering your data storage approach, you should consider the following:

  • Is the storage reliable or is there a risk that the data may be lost?
  • How much storage will I need and will this vary during the project?
  • Can I access my data storage from the different places that I work?
  • Are my data secure and how do I ensure that they can only be accessed by authorised people?

This guide focuses on digital data. For how to store non-digital data, see our guide to working with non-digital data.

Using the University research storage service

Managed research storage is provided by Computing Services for academic staff and postgraduate students. 1TB is available at no charge for every permanent academic member of staff, with an additional 1TB for second and subsequent funded, active research projects. Please note that the policy on how this storage is allocated is reviewed periodically, so always check the latest guidance to see if you are eligible.

Principal Investigators and PhD supervisors can request data storage via the IT help page. Larger storage requirements for potentially data-abundant projects should be discussed with your local IT supporter at the earliest opportunity.

The University research storage service is resilient, with multiple copies stored in more than one physical location and measures to protect against corruption. Backups are taken daily and kept for three months, so you do not need to maintain additional local backups of data stored on University servers. If you accidentally delete a file, the 'Previous Versions' feature of the storage enables you to recover files.

The University does not recommend storing data in the cloud, especially critical or sensitive data.

You may find the following information and resources useful when choosing where to store data:

Accessing the University research storage service remotely

Not all research is conducted on campus. If your data are stored using University research storage service, you can access them when you are working remotely. The files.bath service allows you to access your University storage via a web browser, without the need for a VPN. Instructions on how to use files.bath are available from Computing Services.

Alternatively, Computing Services provides guidance on remote working, which includes information on how to connect to the University via a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and connect to networked drives. Guidance is also available on how to access the UniDesk service, which allows staff and students to access University printers and software remotely.

It is possible to grant external partners access to data you have stored in the research storage service. For more information, see our guide to sharing data with collaborators.

If your data are sensitive or confidential you should ensure that they are secured whilst you are working remotely. For more information, see our guide to working with sensitive data.

Securing your research data

It is important that you keep your research data safe and secure while you are working on them. Data security involves ensuring that only authorised people have access to read, edit or use your data. This protects against both inappropriate disclosure of information and malicious or accidental modification.

The University research storage service provides a certain degree of security as standard, provided you follow the Computing Services guidance on creating a strong password and keeping your computer account secure, and the principles explained by the University's online training course on Information Security. For more information see the University IT Security Policy.

There are some additional steps you can take to enhance the level of protection for your data, which you should consider if your data are legally defined as personal, sensitive or confidential:

  • 'personal data', under the terms of the Data Protection Act, means data that relate to a living individual who could be identified by that data, even if only in conjunction with other information held.
  • 'sensitive personal data', under the terms of the same Act, means personal data that relate to racial or ethnic origin, religious and political beliefs, sexuality, state of health, criminal records, and so on.
  • 'confidential data' means data, not in the public domain, that are passed between two parties on the understanding that they will not be disclosed to a third.

For more information on how to keep such data secure, see our guide to working with sensitive data.