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Where should I store data during the project?

It is good practice to store only what you need to keep and keep at least three copies of crucial data. In descending order of security and safety, some examples of storage are:

  • University networked drives:
    • Recommended by the University for master copies of your research data
    • Allocated research data storage on a centrally-managed and secure network drive. Each PI is entitled to 0.5TB of centrally-managed storage. Click here to request your allocation.
    • Backed-up daily.
    • Conveniently accessible from wherever and whenever required.
    • External collaborators can be given a sponsored account for access to the drive.
    • Many funders, including the UK Research Councils, will accept additional storage costs as eligible costs in a grant application. 
  • PCs and Laptops
    • Data can be lost because local drives can fail.
    • The computer may be lost or stolen.
    • These are convenient for short-term storage and data processing but should not be relied upon for storing master copies, unless backed-up regularly.
    • In some cases, highly secure local drives that are unconnected to a network, yet rigorously backed-up, may be appropriate for storing very sensitive data.
  • Remote or Cloud storage:
    • We do not recommend use of Cloud services such as Dropbox or Box for storing sensitive data. In particular, there are concerns over the compatibility of these services with the Data Protection Act and transfer of personal data.
  • External portable storage devices
    • External hard drives, USB drives, DVDs and CDs.
    • Not recommended for long-term storage as their longevity cannot be guaranteed.
    • Can be easily damaged.
    • They can be easily lost so it is not recommended that unencrypted sensitive data are kept on devices such as these.

If you wish to discuss the practical elements of storage of your active, working data, please contact the IT Service Desk.


Research Data team

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

Tel: (01334) 462343