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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Introduction to Data Management for Undergraduate Students: Data Backup

This guide covers the basics and best practices for data management for individuals who are new to the research and data-collecting process.

What is Data Security / Backup?

Security involves maintaining the integrity of the data on the storage system and backups, as well as ensuring that sensitive or confidential data is managed in a way that is compliant with university, state, and federal regulations, in addition to the requirements of the funder.

Backups refer to the creation of additional copies of your data that can be used to restore data if the original is damaged or deleted. The general rule of thumb is that you should have three copies of your data:

Original + Local Copy + Remote Copy

Security and Backup Resources

Data Classification

Security IT at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has created a great guide to help you classify your data and provide you with the next steps depending on your data type.

Privacy and Information Security

Technology Services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign maintains a page that has some great resources for understanding how to protect your data.

Using Passwords Effectively

This guide from Privacy and Information Security provides a wealth of information about what makes a good passwords and how to best use passwords to protect your accounts and information.

Backup Your Data

Use the 3-2-1 rule to keep your data safe. The image and YouTube video below are good resources in learning how to keep your data backed up and secure.


Store three copies of any important file. Store your files on at least 2 different media types (example: laptop and cloud server). Store at least 1 copy offsite such as with a cloud service.


Cloud-Based Storage Solutions for Campus

Technology Services at Illinois currently offers the following University-approved cloud-based storage solutions: U of I Box, OneDrive for Business (Office 365), and Google Apps @ Illinois. Check out this cloud-based storage overview to help you select the option that's right for the kind of data you're working with.

Research Data Service has also created a Data Nudge comparing the versioning capabilities of U of I Box and Google Drive.