Basic data management guidelines: Where should you store your data?

The storage location is important!

The appropriate solution for storing research data depends on the need. It is impossible to find a solution that works for all storage needs. 

The characteristics of a good storage location include:

  • Automated backups – The risk of data loss increases if you have to make backups manually.
  • Independent location, meaning that you have the option to use data remotely
  • Access control, which means that access to your files is restricted with a password, for example.


Automated backups are important because it is easy to forget manual backups, putting you at risk of losing all the data.

All students at the University of Helsinki have their own home drive, the Z: drive, which is backed up every hour.

Read more about backups in the Students’ Digital Skills course material.

Remote access

Remote access is useful if you must access the data from anywhere. This also frees you from carrying the data with you on a memory stick, which can easily be lost and end up in the wrong hands.

As a student, you have access to a home drive (Z: drive) offered by the University of Helsinki, which you can use over a VPN connection.

Access control

Access control means

  • Restricting access
    • By protecting the material with a password
    • By encrypting the material so that only authorised parties can read it
  • Enabling access
    • By granting access rights to several people on a collaboration platform, such as Wiki
Comparison of storage locations (see Saving)

Independent location Works without a network connection Suitable for collaborative use Automated backups Access control
Z: drive Accessible over a VPN connection No No Every hour University username and password  

University cloud service (OneDrive)

Accessible by browser No Can be shared and jointly edited Yes University username and password
Memory stick or hard drive Must be carried with you Yes No No Don’t forget encryption. Accessible by password, see the Helpdesk instructions for encrypted flash drives.