Security, Storage and Back-ups


You need to consider how you are going to provide physical security, network security and security of computer systems and files to protect your data from unauthorized access, changes to data, and disclosure or destruction of data. 

Physical Security

  • Restrict access to buildings and rooms where data is kept
  • Only allow trusted individuals to trouble-shoot computer problems

Network Security

  • Store confidential or sensitive data on computers not connected to an external network (such as the internet)
  • Keep firewall and security-related upgrades and patches to operating systems up-to-date

Computer Systems and Files

  • Use passwords on files and computers
  • Don't send confidential data by email or FTP (use encryption if you must send files)
  • Keep virus protection up to date


Accessibility of any data is dependent on the quality of the storage medium and availability of software to view the data. 

  • Store data in a non-proprietary or open standard format for long-term readability (see Data Organization)
  • CD's and DVD's are not reliable in the long-term, copy or migrate data to new media between 2-5 years after creation
  • Check the data integrity of stored data files at regular intervals
  • See Security concerns listed above


An essential element of data management is making back-ups of your files.  This will protect against damage or loss due to hardware failure, software or media faults, virus or hacking, power failure and human error.  Back-ups involve making copies that can be used to restore original data if there is a loss of data. 

It is recommended that you have three back-up copies (original, external but local to your institution, and external at a remote location).  Check the integrity of your data on a regular basis using checksum.  Create a back-up schedule, use reliable back-up medium, and test your back-up system by testing file restores. The following are some locations for backing up your data:

  • Personal Computer
  • Departmental or University Server
  • Tape Backups
  • Subject archive (repository)
  • External Hard Drives
  • Cloud Storage
  • CDs or DVDs are NOT Recommended