Research data management


Making back-ups of your data is a vitally important element of data management. What would happen if you accidentally lost all your data? With a back-up you can carry on working. The following guide will help you to avoid the possibility of a data disaster.

Why should I back up my data?

Making regular back-ups can prevent data loss due to:

  • Hardware failure
  • Software or media faults
  • Virus infection
  • Power failure
  • Human error

How do I back up my data?

It is recommended that you keep at least three copies of your data, for example, original, external (locally), and external (remotely), and have a policy for maintaining regular back-ups.


  • How and when will you back up your data?
  • Will all data, or only changed data, be backed up? (A back-up of changed data is known as an "incremental back-up", while a back-up of all data is known as a "full back-up")
  • How often will full and incremental back-ups will be made?
  • How long will back-ups be stored?
  • How much hard drive space or number of DVDs do you need?
  • If the data is sensitive, how will they be secured and (possibly) destroyed?
  • What back-up services are available that meet these needs?
  • Who will be responsible for ensuring back-ups are available? 

To ensure that your back-up system is working properly, you should regularly restore your data files from your back-ups and check that you can read them.

Visit the ITS webpages to find out more about the facilities provided at Sussex to keep your work backed up and safe.

What is remote back-up?

Remote, online or managed back-up services provide users with an online system for storing and backing up computer files. Typically remote back-up services:

  • Allow users to store and synchronise data files online and between computers.
  • Employ cloud computing storage facilities (e.g. Amazon S3).
  • Provide the first few gigabytes free and users pay for more facilities, including space.


  • No user intervention is required (change tapes, label CDs, perform manual tasks).
  • Remote back-up maintains data offsite.
  • Most provide versioning and encryption.
  • They are multi-platform.


  • Restoration of data may be slow (dependent upon network bandwith).
  • Stored data may not be entirely private (thus pre-encryption).
  • Service provider may go out of business.
  • Service may not be GDPR compliant.


Web-based file hosting services use cloud computing to enable you to share files and folders easily with people who are working on the same projects, synchronising files via the internet.

Staff and research students at Sussex can store an unlimited amount of files and data by logging on to with a University account. 

Box is safe to use and is GDPR compliant. There is no limit to the amount of data you can store in Box - the initial limit is 100GB but if you contact IT Services this can be increased. ITS can also help with any technical issues.

Box includes a versioning feature, allowing you to navigate back to a previous version of a file. Deleted files are also recoverable for 30 days after deletion.

See the IT Services guide to getting started with Box and IT Services Box FAQs for more information.

Using other cloud storage providers

Other cloud-based file sharing services are available, including Dropbox and Google Drive.

These cloud platforms are not supported by IT Services - if syncing fails ITS cannot help recover files. Cloud platforms aren't always compliant with GDPR regulations and, if you are storing data in your own personal account, you are responsible for ensuring compliance.

See the IT Services guidance on file storage options for more information on Dropbox and other cloud services.