Securing your data and backing it up

You can mitigate the effects of data loss by backing up and securing your work effectively. Security and backup is part of good practice in Research Data Management.

Data security

Storing your research data securely while maintaining ongoing access can be a challenge, especially for large or sensitive datasets. Data security is needed to prevent unauthorised access or disclosure and changes to or destruction of data. 

Level of security needed

  • The level of security required depends upon the nature of the data. The more personal or restricted the information is the higher the level of security needs to be. With help of the University's information classification document (Word), you can ascertain what level of protection is required when storing information for the purpose of Information Security.

Security of University filestore

  • Data held on ISS systems are stored in a resilient storage infrastructure.  
  • Access to the University's IT infrastructure and data centres is tightly controlled.  


  • You can use encryption to secure restricted or personal information that is stored on hardware or media and/or while it is in transit (e.g. when sending emails). Encryption can also be applied to various hardware and media – such as Computers, Laptops, Mobile Phones, CDs, DVDs, External Hard Drives, USB memory sticks and other data storing devices. All University provided laptops should be encrypted – you can make a request to the ISS Service Desk to arrange encryption if needed.
  • Recommended encryption standards:
    • For Windows machines or for all drives that are being accessed by Windows operating systems (e.g. external hard drives and USB sticks), BitLocker is the ISS–recommended encryption method.
    • For Macs, the recommended encryption method is FileVault 2, which is included in all versions of macOS since 10.7.

If you have any questions regarding encryption of your data, please get in touch with the ISS Service Desk who are happy to help.

Bespoke security settings

If you are working on a project that deals with particularly sensitive information (e.g. health data), you might like to think about special data security arrangements. Contact ISS to discuss your security needs.

Data backup

Digital files may be accidentally lost or corrupted so that errors are introduced or the file becomes unreadable. To avoid corruption of data, the researcher is responsible for ensuring that data are backed up regularly.

  • We recommend to store the master copy of all important research data on the University's filestore systems. All data storage options, including personal filestores (your H: Drive), departmental filestores and research filestores, are backed up each night.
  • We advise you NOT to rely on local solutions such as USB sticks or external hard drives for backup purposes. If you use laptop or desktop computers, use one of the University's filestores as the primary storage option for your data.
  • If you work on your laptop and modify data while travelling, you should update your master copy of your data on its University filestore as soon as you can.

What about using my laptop or external hard drive to back up data?

  • All data which is stored on devices like laptops or external hard drives or USB sticks is not part of the University backup routine and we do not encourage researchers to use ad hoc solutions or to rely upon consumer devices for backup purposes. If you must, keep your device secure by encrypting the device.
  • If you work on or create new data while you are not connected to the University filestore, please ensure the device it is stored on is encrypted and update (or create) the master copy on the filestore as soon as you can (on campus or via VPN).