Data Saving and Sharing Best Practices

Storage and Back-Up

Keep three copies of your data. In addition to your primary system (e.g. laptop or desktop), back-up your system nightly to a networked drive available via your home department. A third copy saved to your U of I Box account or to an external hard drive counts as extra insurance.

Visit Backup & Storage Finder  to find the right resources for your research.


Extra precautions are required to ensure the security of human subjects data.  Illinois’ Technology Services Privacy and Cybersecurity provides a Data Classification Guide for working with sensitive data. Also consider contacting for more information on how to safely store sensitive data.  Note that while U of I Box is currently approved for FERPA data, HIPAA data is not allowed.

Sharing and Deposition into a Data Repository

Cloud services like U of I Box are great for private sharing of data between colleagues and collaborators.  Deposition of data into a web-accessible repository is generally the preferred mechanism for public data sharing because it ensures widespread and consistent access to the data.  If your discipline already has a trusted repository, we recommend you deposit where your community knows to look.  To find a repository, search, a large, vetted, and searchable catalog of data repositories.  The campus repository, the Illinois Data Bank, is available to campus researchers for when discipline-specific repositories do not exist.

Archiving for Long Term Access

Costly, irreplaceable, and high-impact datasets should be saved for perpetuity.  To ensure lasting preservation, the data must be organized, well described, and in open and common file formats (see Data Organization Best Practices).  The data should be secured in a system with appropriate and regular back-ups, off-site replication, and data integrity audits.  See the Illinois Data Bank Preservation Policy for an example of the kinds of commitments, strategies, and infrastructure planning that are required to archive datasets for the long-term.

RDS Services for Saving Your Data

Not sure about the best preservation strategy for you data? Contact us by emailing us or filling out this form. We can outline the options and go over resources to ensure your data is accessible for years to come.