Back up your data!

A little planning in the beginning can save your data in the end

Don’t be a research horror story! Make sure your data is properly backed up so you don’t lose it. A general best practice is to have three copies that are geographically distributed:


  • Here: Your local/working copy, stored on your workstation or in a shared workspace.
  • Near: A second copy, stored locally (but in a separate location) or remotely, such as on an external hard drive. Note, CDs and DVDs are not built to last and are not recommended for your backups.
  • Far: A remote copy, often maintained in the cloud, such as via IS&T’s CrashPlan or a private cloud service.

Depending on the nature of your data, you may have additional considerations, such as encrypting backups that contain sensitive data.

Check out MIT IS&T’s free computer backup services for help setting up your backups. To ensure your backup system is working properly, test it periodically. Try to retrieve data files and make sure you can read them.

And don’t forget the documentation! Make sure you include the necessary information to understand your data with your data.

Need help or have other data management questions? Contact the MIT Libraries Data Management Services team at