Storing and Backing Up Your Data (Short Term Archiving)
In order to to properly safeguard your data files, you should both STORE your data in a secure location that you can readily access and BACKUP your data in a separate physical location from those files in storage.
Here is what we mean by Storage and Backup:
Storage refers to preserving your data files in a secure location you can access readily.
Backup refers to preserving additional copies of your data in a separate physical location from data files in storage.
Storage systems often provide mirroring, in which data is written simultaneously to two drives. This is not the same thing as backup since alterations in the primary files will be mirrored in the second copy.
Backup preserves older copies so you can restore your data if accidental deletion/alteration or a disaster such as fire, flood, or hardware malfunction damages your data in storage.
When it comes to safeguarding your important data assets, remember both storage and backup are essential!
Storing Your Data
Your data should be stored somewhere that is accessible and secure at the very least. Using a service like Dropbox, Mozy, Carbonite, or ADrive will help you store and maintain the integrity of your data files across different computers and locations.
Many of these services provide mirroring services that will link a folder on your computer's hard drive with a folder stored on an online server. This means that when you save or make changes to files stored on your hard drive, those files are added or revised to in their online storage locations as well.
Backing up Your Data
Following a good storage routine is one way to ensure your data is backed-up to some extent. However, to mitigate any losses of data, one should backup their data on a regular basis to another server or external hard drive that resides in a different physical location than your stored data.
A simple way to do this is to backup your data on a regular basis to an external hard drive that you store at your home rather than at your office. You can also upload your data to another cloud storage service (such as those mentioned above) on an ongoing basis.
Caution: Having too many backups can be as detrimental to the authenticity and preservation of your files as having none at all. Once you establish a protocol, follow it, and when you backup your data, make sure you do not create multiple copies of the same files or versions of files in different locations. Backup to one location, and keep that location ordered and updated.
Storing and Backing Up Your Lab's Data
Labs present a special problem for the storage and backup of data, as the large amount of data and the varying number of people who have access to that data can threaten the preservation of that data. Establishing protocols for both the storage and backup of that data can help avoid problems in this regard. Particularly, using a mirroring service, like those mentioned above, or a shared server, can help members of the lab to avoid losing any data.