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How to backup your personal files

In view of the large amount of data that may accumulate over the years there are obvious advantages in storing it in compressed form on backup media. There are various data compression programs on the market of which PKZIP and WinZip are the best known. These will compress your data files into a single file (often known confusingly as an archive), and also provide a restoration facility so that you can extract particular files from the compressed file. Windows has its own Backup and Restore utility. These programs are particularly appropriate for the regular backups of all your data files.

For copying individual documents or small groups of documents it might be simpler not to compress them into an "archive", but to copy them across to the backup disk as separate files.

For true archiving purposes you should certainly not compress the data since this is likely to impose upon it a format which will be unreadable in years to come. In the past the Microsoft backup utility was notorious for producing backup files which could not be restored on later versions of Windows.

Retention of backup copies and archives

With legislation on Data Protection and Freedom of Information it has become essential for the University to know what information is being stored where, and for how long. Guidelines on document management recommend that University information should not be stored on personal computers but on the central file space, and be deleted as soon as it is no longer required. This includes email messages as well as more formal documents. When removing information from your central file space or your own hard disk, you should also delete or destroy all backup copies that you may have.

You also need to consider how long you need to retain any archived copies, for instance superseded policy or procedure documents that may be needed in the future for legal or reference purposes. University records management policies and procedures will in due course determine the proper course of action in these circumstances.

You should, as a matter of course, keep University data in your personal or shared central file space.

University records management policies and procedures will in due course address the various aspects of archiving, including the specific requirements of research data.

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