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How and why should I back up my data?

Backing up your data is an essential element of RDM. We recommend that all project data is held on the University's centrally managed research data facility where possible. Each PI is entitled to 0.5TB of storage free of charge and additional storage may be available, particularly if you have grant funding to cover the costs.  Please click here to request your allocation and/or to discuss options if you require more that 0.5TB of data storage.

Regular backups protect against accidental or malicious data loss due to:

  • Hardware failure
  • Software faults
  • Media faults
  • Virus infection
  • Malicious hacking
  • Power failure
  • Human error.

Choosing a precise backup procedure depends on local circumstances, the perceived value of the data, and the levels of risk considered appropriate.

Good practice for backing up your research data is the 3-2-1 rule, which recommends backing up:

  • At least three copies,
  • ... in two different formats,
  • ... with one of those copies off-site.

Some other things to consider when backing up your research data are:

  • Whether to backup files or the whole computer system
  • The frequency of backup required
  • Strategies for all systems where data are held
  • Organising and clearly labelling all backup files and media.

Critical data files or those used frequently should be backed up daily. Master copies should be in open (as opposed to proprietary) formats for long-term validity.

Data security

For information on data security, please refer to the relevant IT Services pages.

More Information


Research Data team

University of St Andrews Library
North Street
St Andrews
KY16 9TR
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: (01334) 462343