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Research Data Management: Storage and security

Storage and security

Where you store your data during your research depends on various factors, including whether there are commercial or ethical sensitivities. At Aston, the recommended storage system is Box, unless the information is classified as secret.

Storing your active data

There are servers located on campus which allow you to use the space to store your data, these servers are reliable and safe and are regularly backed up minimising data loss. You are able to access this storage on campus machines and laptops and also remotely through the appropriate systems. There is a moderate amount of space for storage; however it is encouraged that you backup your data more ways than one.

Box cloud storage

Box is an online collaborative cloud storage device which is the recommended solution for managing and storing your data during the research process. All Aston staff can access box at http://aston.box.com/login using their usual university login credentials.  Box allows you to securely share, collaborate and store your research data from any device with internet access including tablets and smartphones.

Key benefits of using Box

  • Unlimited storage space
  • Version control allows you to download any previous version of a document or access an earlier saved version
  • Share large files of up to 5GB in file size
  • Share documents/data with anyone, even those without a Box account via an account generated link
  • Ease of collaboration – lock a document for editing, add comments to documents/data
  • High security through password protected documents
  • Box Sync allows you to access your files from your desktop – even if offline. Once you are back online, your files will sync to Box automatically
  • Granular permissions – choose from seven different types of access permissions

For further information, please contact IT services.

Laptops and personal computers

Personal computers and laptops may be used for storage and backup but only on a temporary basis. Master copies should always be stored in a more secure environment. Preferably the H:/ drive could be used as well as requesting storage space from the servers on campus.

Ordering memory sticks

Encrypted memory sticks can be ordered from and configured by Digital Services.

Securing your data

For more information, please see IT's Information Security Policy, Section 7 - Information Handling.

Security classifications

Data should be assigned a security classification, following IT's Security Policy:

  • Public: available without any restriction
  • Open: available to any authenticated member of the university (note: not to be confused with the Open Science definition of "open", which would be public)
  • Confidential: available only to specified members of the university, with appropriate authorisation
  • Strictly confidential: available to only a very small number of members of the university, with appropriate authorisation
  • Secret: the most restrictive category, with very few university information assets assigned this classification

What can be stored where?

Public information can be stored on premise via Aston's local data servers, Aston's Box Cloud storage, on websites, on hard drives or portable drives. Open information can be stored on premise via Aston's local data servers and Aston's Box Cloud storage.

Confidential and strictly confidential information can be stored on premise via Aston's local data servers, Aston's Box Cloud storage, on approved encrypted drives, on encrypted university provided computing devices, or a university portal with appropriate authentication set up. Confidential information must be encrypted and have a secure password.

Secret information must be stored on premise via Aston's local data servers, on approved encrypted memory sticks, or on encrypted university provided computing devices. Secret information must be encrypted and have a secure password, and access must be removed as soon as it is no longer required.

Backing up your data

3-2-1

It is recommended that all researchers follow the 3-2-1 backup rule.

  • Have at least 3 copies of your research data...
  • ...in at least 2 different locations...
  • ...and one cloud copy.

Ensure that your data are protected with encryption, strong passwords and as limited access as appropriate. Consult IT's security policy to confirm you are selecting the appropriate storage locations for your data.

Preserving and archiving

Aston recommends that datasets should be retained for a period which follows best practice in the discipline or in line with funder requirements. In the absence of these specifications, Aston recommends the retention of data by default for a minimum of 10 years (Aston Open Research Data Policy, 2019).

Through Aston Data Explorer, all data is archived through Arkivum. Data is stored, managed and maintained in Tier-3 data centres based in the UK. Arkivum has a ISO 27001 data security certification, ensuring that your data is secure.