Different types of research data require different kinds of storage solutions. To determine which solution fits your research data and how to work with it, there are a number of elements and questions you have to consider:
To share or not to share
The first question you can ask yourself is whether you are going to use the data yourself or if you want other people to access the data. Some storage solutions are specially set up for sharing data (with the possibility of giving other people read, write or even delete permission) and others are not (individual storage). It is wise to be prepared for sharing if necessary.
Sensitivity of your data
Determine how sensitive your data is. For instance, by doing a data classification. Thinking about different levels of risk allows you to choose the right storage option for your kind of data. It is important to know what types of data you will produce during your research. It is also sensible to choose a fitting storage solution. This should be detailed in your data management plan.
Do you need to have your data stored locally in Utrecht or is external storage allowed? Storage at Utrecht University is maintained and controlled by IT storage managers. External storage solutions are maintained by other organisations and they are not ‘controlled’ by Utrecht University.
The storage location is most important in case of privacy-sensitive data. The Algemene Verordening Gegevensbescherming (AVG), or the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation, only permits personal data to be stored within the EU, unless:
- participants officially consent to the data being stored in another country;
- adequate and equivalent levels of data protection are in place (e.g. the US/EU Privacy Shield agreement).
You should always assess if the supplier of the data permits you to store your data abroad. If data needs to be stored outside the EU, information sheets and consent forms should explain the reasons why this is necessitated.
Is single storage sufficient or do you need back-ups of your data? You can choose a storage solution with a back-up facility if you want to be sure that a back-up is available and you don't want to make it yourself.
Sometimes back-ups can be an option of the storage device, sometimes IT storage managers will set this up for you.
Criteria to choose for storage with or without back-up are:
how important is the reliability that your data will not get lost and are always accessible?
how important is keeping the costs for storage as low as possible?
Many storage solutions have additional services. They come in different types:
- Data management solutions add an extra service layer on top of your data. With this service, you can add information/metadata about data which is close to the stored data. Additional information on who, when and how the data was created gives people who want to use the data more context;
- Cloud based storage offers ‘pay per storage’ and services to share and manage your data. Access to your data is independent of the device you are working on;
- Server based storage can offer a special storage device, used to manage the storage and retrieval of data from disk. Some have a built-in data restoring services;
- External disk devices can be attached to your device making data available for download without an internet connection.