There are many different storage technologies and devices. This page identifies some of the things you should consider when storing your files.
Having a resilient storage strategy for your digital files is an extremely important aspect of managing digital information. This is because many physical storage media are inherently fragile. The use of popular online services for storage may not be desirable because of issues around storing potentially reserved, restricted or protected data on 3rd party servers.
There are quite a few options available when looking at the storage of your data.
- magnetic media - such as Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and tape
- flash storage - such as USB and Solid State Drives (SSD)
- online services - such as Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon S3, etc, that may make use of a mixture of some of the above.
Your choice will depend on the amount of data you wish to store, how safe and resilient that data needs to be stored, how your data is classified (reserved/restricted/protected/public) and how easily you'd like to be able to share your data.
Data can be lost in a number of ways, either accidentally or maliciously, through means such as:
- hardware failure
- loss or decay of media (such as HDDs, USBs or CDs)
- software failure
- power failure
- human error (such as accidental change or deletion of files)
- virus infection or data theft
- bit rot
A suitable data backup process can help to mitigate against these risks.
If you are part of an organisation your IT services backup will cover your needs (different locations, more than one copy etc).
Data security needs to be considered in order to prevent unauthorised access to your data. This is especially true if you are handling reserved, restricted or protected data. The University of Warwickissues guidelines on Handling Electronic Information as may your own institution or organisation.
Effective data security involves three aspects:
- Physical security - controlling and logging physical access to the rooms where data is stored (server rooms, rooms where storage media sits)
- Software & file security -
- Controlling and logging access to computer systems by making use of password protection.
- Controlling access to files by using password protection or other encryption methods. However if it is material that you intend to deposit with an archive or data repository you will need to make sure that they are available for staff in these places to access.
- Making use of appropriate up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware software.
- Ensuring operating systems incorporate the most up-to-date security patches and upgrades.
- Network security -
- Controlling and monitoring access to the computer networks used by implementing firewall protection.
Data that is not suitable for long-term preservation and retention needs to be disposed of. Merely deleting files from your chosen storage medium or indeed formatting the storage medium does not prevent the data being recovered by experts with the appropriate tools. It's also worth noting that different techniques are required depending on the storage medium you have chosen to use.