Store your research data , Te pupuri i tō raraunga rangahau

Find out how to store your data in digital or physical form. Learn about security, backups and data storage options.

Appropriate storage helps you to protect your data over time. In the case of digital data, regular backups are also important.

Digital data storage

The choice of where you keep your digital copies depends on any commercial, ethical or cultural restrictions on your data.

The Massey University Code of Responsible Research Conduct says that when storing research records and data, give consideration to:

  • the safety and security of the research records and data
  • the durability of the data storage method
  • the privacy and confidentiality requirements for the data
  • requirements ascribed to the storage of the data as part of ethics approvals
  • methods to ensure locating the data at a later date is simple, for example indexing and cataloguing
  • Massey’s policies on data storage and retention.

Always take a risk management approach when making storage decisions. Quality storage is crucial if, for example, your data:

  • cannot be recreated in the event of loss
  • is sensitive
  • must be kept long term.

More information on what data must be kept

For further advice:

Digital security and backup

Securing your data

Data security includes network security, physical security and computer files and systems security.

  • Only allow trusted individuals to troubleshoot computer problems.
  • Ensure that the computers used in research and data storage have up-to-date virus protection.
  • Use strong passwords to secure files and computers.
  • Encryption may be necessary for some sensitive data, especially if the data is being transferred over email or File Transfer Protocol (FTP).

Backing up your data

Backup means to create additional copies of your ‘live’ or ‘working’ data, and store them in separate locations from your working data. Backing up your data is essential to avoid the risk of loss through:

  • accidental deletion
  • hard drive failure
  • theft
  • damage of equipment.

Set up a regular schedule to back up your data and follow it to the best of your ability.

Three golden rules for backup are:

  • back up regularly
  • have a working copy and two backup copies
  • keep backups in two separate locations.

This could mean you keep:

  • one copy of your data in your computer’s documents folder
  • a synchronised copy of your documents folder in OneDrive or Sharepoint
  • a ‘point in time’ copy of all your data on a USB or external hard drive that you update regularly and store in a separate, secure location.

All enrolled students have access to software packages that can help with backing up data, including Microsoft OneDrive and Endnote.

If you’re a staff member or postgraduate student, ITS has several options you can use to back up your data:

  • a protected and secured ‘Massey Disk’ data storage
  • a cloud-supported option for Microsoft OneDrive or SharePoint for secure data backup.

Note that ITS has no control over private cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud. ITS can’t help you recover your files from them if you lose your data.

Digital storage and data processing options

Network disk space allocation at Massey

Talk to Information Technology Services (ITS) at the start of your project. Tell them your data storage needs and timeframes and they will make a suitable data storage recommendation.

ITS offers network disk space allocations for critical research data for schools and individuals.

Network disk space is available for the duration of your study or employment at Massey University. Disk space limits are negotiable – generally, ITS allocate around 10TB per eResearch application. If you believe you will generate more than this, ITS will advise you on your options.

Data saved to Massey University’s network is:

  • backed up – ITS provide a backup and recovery service across all network shares
  • maintained and managed
  • secure
  • replicated
  • protected against malicious attacks and viruses
  • recoverable in exceptional circumstances, for example disasters.

Do not store personal content on your network disk space.

Apply online for network disk space (doctoral students and Massey staff only)

Portable storage media

Portable storage media include:

  • USB sticks
  • smartphones
  • CDs.

Only use portable storage media as temporary storage for file transfer. For security reasons, do not use portable storage media for permanent storage. ITS cannot provide support if data stored on portable media becomes corrupted or otherwise inaccessible.

External hard drives

External hard drives can be a good choice for backing up your data. Keep them in a relatively safe location, such as your office or at a trusted friend’s house.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage services are storage services provided over the internet via the provider’s servers.

Massey offers up to 1TB of cloud storage in Microsoft OneDrive.

Be careful when storing sensitive research data on free, cloud-based storage solutions such as Dropbox or Google Docs, as they may not meet ethical requirements. ITS cannot restore or back up your data should something go wrong with data stored in external cloud services.

When entering agreements with cloud storage providers make sure you’ve addressed risks associated with security, privacy and your ability to maintain access to your data should service providers close down or change owners.

Long-term storage

Deposit your finalised data sets in an archive or repository.

Learn more about publishing and sharing your research data

High performance computing

High performance computing (HPC) involves the use of supercomputers, parallel computing and computer clusters for advanced computing tasks including:

  • modelling
  • data processing
  • analysis.

Massey maintains an institution-wide subscription to New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI), which provides access to high performance computing resources ‘at scale’ for Massey University staff and students.

Apply for access to NeSI’s high performance computing platforms

If you have any technical questions, contact NeSI support.

For information about the Massey subscription and application process, email

Physical data storage

Not all research data is generated or stored digitally. Your data may be recorded on:

  • paper including maps, plans, charts and drawings, files, cards and lab notebooks
  • photographic media such as photographic prints and negatives, film, microforms and x-rays
  • magnetic media such as digital tape, video and audio cassettes
  • optical media such as CDs and DVDs.

Ask your school what storage they provide for physical data storage forms, or what recommendations they have for storage facilities.

When assessing the suitability of physical data storage locations, consider:

  • security requirements
  • how long you will be storing the data for
  • how much access you and others will need to the data
  • the suitability of the building for storing your data, for example adequate drainage to prevent flooding
  • the stability of the storage area environment, for example stable temperature and minimal lighting
  • exposure to internal hazards, for example exposed overhead pipes or chemicals
  • proximity to windows or other light sources – physical data should be kept away from direct sunlight to minimise fading.

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