Essay: Long-Term Data Storage

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[. . .] There are a number of other factors involved in ensuring the integrity of stored data is maintained, including the physical protection of the data from loss, theft or tampering which is accomplished in part by restricted access to it (Westra, 2014). Other steps include determining who will have access to stored data and ensuring that non-digital data is maintained separately in secure locations and replacing names and other personal identifiers with encoded identifiers (Westra, 2014). As Westra cautions, though, "Ultimately, the best way to protect data may be to fully educate all members of the research team about data protection procedures" (2014, para. 4). In sum, protections for stored digital data include the following steps

Data protection should be a part of every project's plan for data storage.

The best way to protect data, whether in written or electronic form, is by limiting access to the data.

Electronic data storage offers many benefits but requires additional consideration and safeguards.

Keep updated anti-virus protection on every computer.

Maintain up-to-date versions of all software and media storage devices.

If the system is connected to the Internet, use a firewall.

Protecting the integrity of stored electronic data includes the following precautions:

Record the original creation date and time for files on the systems.

Use encryption, electronic signatures, or watermarking to keep track of authorship and changes made to data files.

Regularly back up electronic data files (both on and offsite) and create both hard and soft copies.

Lab notebooks should be stored in a safe place.

Computer files should be backed up and the backup data stored in a secure place physically removed from the original data.

Samples should be appropriately saved so they will not degrade over time (Westra, 2014, para. 4).

Although cloud-based storage is available through third-party providers, Westra (2014) recommends that protected and sensitive data should not be stored on these remote services to avoid potential compromise. There are some third-party providers available, though, that can serve as long-term storage repositories for less sensitive and protected data, including the Extreme Science and Engineering Digital Environment (XSEDE, formerly TeraGrid) (Westra, 2014). The XSEDE is comprised of a network of super-computers that provide more than 50 petabytes of online and archival data storage (Westra, 2014).

There are also some local solutions that have become available in recent years as well that can facilitate the long-term storage of digital data. Until relatively recently, organizations were forced to maintain their online data storage levels below a terabyte with any excess being committed to archival tape for storage (Datt, 2011). According to Datt (2011), "A terabyte can hold the entire contents of the Encyclopedia Britannica about 2,000 times, more than 333,000 songs, 150,000 raw-data photographs, 250 DVD movies or 40 feature-length Blu-ray movies, down to the last pixel" (p. 48). In the recent past, managing the available space in these long-term data storage settings involved complicated data retention methodologies (Datt, 2011).

Today, though, inexpensive terabyte hard drives (<$100) are available that can provide alternative long-term data storage capabilities, making it less expensive to simply add more storage than determined what data should be deleted prior to storage and data can now be stored for indefinite periods of time (Datt, 2011). As Datt also points out, "Further, because storage is so inexpensive, additional data sources can be drawn upon, providing the data warehouse and analytics system with additional inputs" (2011, p. 48). In sum, then, a concomitant of the information explosion in recent years has been a growing amount of research dedicated to identifying viable approaches to its long-term storage in ways that assure its openness, integrity and accessibility.


The research showed that information security refers to the availability, confidentiality, and integrity of computer-based information. The research also showed that access format and a preservation format are the two types of storage formats that are currently in use, with the former being appropriate for short-term uses of the stored data while the latter is used for storing digital data in repositories for long periods of time. The research was absolutely consistent in emphasizing that today's information explosion will have significant implications for the future storage and accessibility of digital data, and there are a number of constraints to ensuring the integrity of data stored over the long-term. The sheer volume of the digital data being generated every day at present will require innovative solutions. Fortunately, a number of initiatives and methodologies have been advanced in recent years to facilitate the long-term storage of digital data, though, including the Open Archival Information Systems reference model that will help improve its openness, security, integrity and accessibility.


Axellson, A-S. & Schroeder, R. (2009). Making it open and keeping it safe: E-enabled data-sharing in Sweden. Acta Sociologica, 52(3), 213-226.

Datt, S. (2011, Winter). The information explosion: Trends in technology review. The Journal of Government Financial Management, 60(4), 46-54.

Folk, M. & Barkstrom, B. (2003). Attributes of file formats for long-term preservation of scientific and engineering data in digital libraries. Paper presented at the Joint Conference

on Digital Libraries, Houston, TX, May 27-31.

Foundations and standards. (2008, February-March). Library Technology Reports, 44(2), 14-19.

Hodge, G. & Anderson, N. (2007). Formats for digital preservation: A review of alternatives and issues. Information Services & Use, 27, 45-63.

Park, E.G. & Oh, S. (2012, December). Examining attributes of open standard file formats for long-term preservation and open access. Information Technology and Libraries, 31(4),


Robinson, N. & Lorenzo, V. (2011). The cloud: Understanding the security, privacy and trust challenges. Santa Monica, CA: Rand.

Rog, J. & van Wijk, C.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Long-Term Data Storage.  (2014, May 17).  Retrieved September 16, 2019, from

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"Long-Term Data Storage."  17 May 2014.  Web.  16 September 2019. <>.

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"Long-Term Data Storage."  May 17, 2014.  Accessed September 16, 2019.