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Ekstrom Library

Data Management


With security and sustainability in mind, it is recommended to keep your data: 

  • Unencrypted - encryption technology can change and render the file unable to open
    •  If you need to encrypt your data for security purposes, be sure to keep paper copies of your password in addition to using encryption software like PGP (Pretty Good Privacy). 

  • Uncompressed - compression technologies may change and render the file unable to open
    • If you need to compress your file, limit compression to your 3rd backup copy; 2 backup copies of your original, uncompressed data, and the 3rd for compression.


Granting agencies may require you to retain your data for a specified amount of time and to explain this proposed method of storage and retention as a part of your funding requirements.

Whether or not you're creating a data management plan, proper storage of data can preserve data for future use by you and potentially other researchers. 

Things to consider when storing your data:

  • Use sustainable file formats for long-term preservation and access to your data
  • Hardware, such as CDs and DVDs, could change. Migrate your data onto new media every several years.
  • Make backups of your stored data


Backup refers to the preservation of additional copies of your resource in a different location from where the resource is currently in storage. This ensures that if something were to go wrong with the file in storage, you could access one of your backups so your file is not permanently lost. Backing up data is also a way to access earlier versions of your data.

Storage and backup strategies may overlap. We recommend keeping multiple copies to keep your data safe.

Sources & Further Information

Information regarding file formats has been added to this page with the help of MIT Libraries. Please refer to their Data Management Research Guide for further information regarding file formats and data management.