A data storage strategy is important because digital storage media formats are liable to fail and all file formats and physical storage media will become obsolete eventually. Therefore, creating a data storage strategy will help to minimise the risk of loss or destruction of data by:
Considering these requirements at the start of the project will ensure the accessibility of the data.
When selecting a storage location, please consider:
Click on the image below for a decision matrix to help determine the best option available at Curtin University for your digital research data.
R: drive is a shared network drive for storing research data at Curtin University. R: drive storage is allocated on a per-project basis and supervisors request R: drive access on behalf of their students. There are two steps to access the R: drive:
The storage request requires three pieces of information:
To request storage, the following steps are required:
If you need additional storage for existing research project folders, please follow the instructions here.
Safeguarding the data refers to steps taken to minimise the risk of loss or destruction of data. Data loss can occur for a variety of reasons, including:
Storing research data on a Curtin networked drive ensures a variety of different data protection mechanisms, automatically provided by DTS, are in place:
If the research data cannot be stored on a Curtin networked drive, regular back-ups should be done so the data can be recovered should they be lost.
Backups should occur at regular intervals as well as when major changes are made. If data are not backed up automatically, alternative arrangements will need to be put in place to ensure data are backed up regularly.
An additional measure to safeguard the data is to make multiple redundant copies and distribute them in different physical locations. However, redundant copies represent a point in time and will not reflect updates to the data. Copies should be made regularly.
By working with file formats that are widely-used, interchangeable and with good long-term preservation qualities, you will improve the impact and reach of your research outputs. Choosing good formats will improve the accessibility of your research and make it easier for yourself and other future researchers to use on a wide range of computer systems regardless of available software packages.
While working with your data it’s often necessary to use specialised and proprietary file formats. This may be for many reasons: your method of data analysis; the hardware used; the software available to you or to meet discipline-specific standards. Regardless of these issues, it’s still important to make a conscious and informed decision on choosing file formats. You should at least consider:
At later stages of your research, such as when publishing or making your data publically available, you should consider transferring your data to a file format that can be utilised by people who may not have access to the exact suite of software you have. The UK Data Service Recommended Formats table can help you use a file format best suited to long term accessibility.
Estimating file sizes is difficult. Text files are typically quite small, in the order of megabytes in size. Multimedia files such as photos and videos are much larger.
Many multimedia file formats offer built-in compression and quality options that can drastically vary file sizes. This table is a rough guide of file sizes generated by current generation digital still and video cameras.
|Data type||Approximate size|
|Photo, 20MP, RAW||30MB per photo|
|Photo, 20MP, JPEG||5MB per photo|
|Video, 4K ultra-high definition, h.264 MP4||40GB per hour|
|Video, 1080p high definition, h.264 MP4||10GB per hour|
|Video, 720p high definition, h.264 MP4||5GB per hour|
Modern digital video cameras will record at a resolution of 1080p high definition by default.
These are example storage arrangements from the data management plan for a fictitious research project.
For the duration of the project, the physical data sheets will be stored in a filing cabinet in the principal investigator’s office. Upon completion, the principal investigator will work with Curtin Information Management and Archives to find a suitable long-term storage location.
When in the field, data will be stored on the primary investigator’s laptop and backed up to an external USB hard drive on a nightly basis.
Upon return to Curtin University, all digital data will be transferred to Curtin’s R Drive.
These are example safeguarding measures from the data management plan for a fictitious research project.
In the field, redundant copies of data will be kept on a password-protected laptop and a USB hard drive. Backups will be performed on a nightly basis after the data are transcribed from the physical datasheets.
When the field survey is complete, the data will be transferred to the Curtin R drive, which is set up according to standard Curtin security and safeguarding protocols.
Weekly snapshots of the survey data analysis file will be made and stored on the R drive.