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Research Data Management



Connecticut College offers a number of storage options. When selecting the proper storage solution, considerations include: file size and total storage space needed; whether data are sensitive or contain personal health information (PHI); who will need access; and cost. For questions regarding storage options, contact your library liaison.

The 3-2-1 rule for data storage


  1. Keep 3 copies of important files: 1 original & 2 back-ups
  2. On 2 different storage media types, for example: hard drives, removable storage devices or cloud storage
  3. With at least 1 off-site or in cloud storage
Storage type: Cloud storage


Cloud storage includes services like Google Drive, OwlBox, and DropBox. Cloud storage offers some distinct advantages and disadvantages to be considered:


  • No user intervention is required
  • Remote backup maintains data offsite
  • Most provide versioning and encryption
  • They are multi-platform


  • Some servers may be located outside the US
  • Restoration of data may be slow (dependent upon network bandwidth)
  • Stored data may not be entirely private (thus pre-encryption)
  • Service provider may go out of business
  • Protracted intellectual property rights/copyright/data protection liscences
Storage type: Personal computers & laptops


Personal computers (PCs) & laptops are convenient for temporary data storage, however should not be used for storing master copies of your data.

  • Local drives may fail
  • PCs, laptops may be lost or stolen, leading to loss of your data
Storage type: external hard drives, USBs, etc


External storage devices such as hard drives, USB flash drives, CDs and DVDs are attractive due to low cost and portability. However, they are not recommended for long term storage of your data, especially not your master copies:

  • Their longevity is not guaranteed, especially if not stored correctly. CDs degrade & tapes shrink over time
  • Can be easily damaged, misplaced, lost
  • Errors writing to CDs and DVDs are common
  • They may not be big enough so multiple disks or drives may be needed
  • They pose a security risk

If you choose to store data on USB drives, CDs, DVDs, etc:

  • Choose high quality products from reputable manufacturers
  • Follow manufacturer instructions for care & handling, including environmental conditions & labeling
  • Regularly check the media to make sure that they are not failing
  • Periodically 'refresh' the data by copying it to a new USB flash drive or disk
  • Ensure any private or confidential data is password-protected and/or encrypted

Contents adapted from 'Storage & Security' in Research Data MANTRA [online course] created by EDINA and Data Library, University of Edinburgh.