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A common best practice for backing up and storing your data is the 3-2-1 Rule which says you should keep
3 copies of your data on
2 types of storage media and
1 copy should be offsite
- Desktop computers/ laptops: While working on your data, you'll likely be using and saving files here. Make sure to save often and keep a master copy in another location.
- Networked Drives : TBD
- External Hard Drives : Convenient places to keep a backup copy. If you are working with sensitive data, you can get an encrypted external hard drive for added security.
- Cloud Storage: Storing your data in the cloud (Microsoft Onedrive, Google Drive, etc) is convenient for saving data 'offsite' and syncing your files. At CBU we have access to Microsoft OneDrive.
- Flash Drives: Although these are convenient, they are not recommended for one of your 3 copies of data. These are easily lost, broken and degrade over time.
- The Sensitive Data Toolkit for Researchers Part 2: Human Participant Research Data Risk Matrix outlines acceptable places to store, share and retain sensitive research data.
Organize your files
File naming and folder hierarchy
Keeping track of research data and documentation is critical. Strategies include:
- Spend time planning out both folder hierarchy and file naming conventions in the beginning of a project. Consider how you or others will look for and access files at a later date. Do you think about them by type, location, study or something else?
- Establish a folder hierarchy that aligns with the project. Example: [Project] / [Experiment] / [Instrument or Type of file]
- A good file name convention works for a group of related files, displays about 3 pieces of key information about a file and is easy to scan visually.
- Use date format ISO 8601: YYYYMMDD.
Examples: Experiment12_assay_v04.csv for outputs generated from experiments. 20191221_DTeam_MeetingNotes.docx for meeting notes with a research group. CityHIVnc_Manuscript_v23.docx for Manuscript drafts.
To enable sharing and reuse, file types should be common, standard types below. If you are working with specialized software that forces you to use a proprietary or non standard file formats, you can consider converting file types upon completion of your project.
Standard File types