The most well-organized data is quite useless when it has been lost or destroyed. The most up-to-date backup of your data is equally useless, if it is lost or destroyed together with the original. To avoid this, it is advisable to keep at least 3 copies of your data in 2 places on more than 1 type of storage (also known as the 3-2-1 rule.) For example:
- The original data is on your laptop at work.
- One backup is on a USB flash drive that you keep at home.
- One backup resides on your institutions's cloud server.
Even if your institution burns down, you will still have the USB flash drive. If you lose the USB flash drive, you will have the original data and the cloud backup. If your laptop fails while backing up to the USB flash drive and causes both to be destroyed, you will still have the cloud server.
Types of storage media include:
- external hard drives
- USB flash drives
- other computers
- cloud storage
- networked drives
All of these have advantages and disadvantages. Make sure you think about the following:
- Data protection. Uploading your research data to cloud servers outside your institution or losing a USB flash drive with unencrypted research data might allow others unauthorized acess to it.
- Size of data. Depending on the amount of data you produce (KBs, MBs, GBs, ...) you might need different types of media, and different backup strategies.
- Intervals between backups. If you want to do daily backups, but your backup strategy requires you to carry an external hard drive to your office for every backup, this might not be the best solution.