RDIM Step 2 - Manage Organise Data Data Storage - Active or Working Data

Data Storage - Active or Working Data

Active data and working data are the same thing, read the definition of Active Data.

Appropriate data storage is a critical aspect of good research data management.

Many factors can lead to data loss or misuse with devastating consequences for your research and research career. Safeguarding against these should be a priority.

Researchers may need different storage and collaboration solutions at different stages of the Research (Data and Information) Asset Lifecycle. The options, also listed under ‘Active Storage and Collaboration Options’ are suitable for storing active (working) data, collaborating with other researchers, and/or creating backups.

JCU approved data storage options include:

Non-approved data storage options include:

  • Shared university network drive (e.g. G, H etc)
  • Personal equipment (e.g. external drive/s, own laptop, etc)
  • External cloud storage/collaboration space (e.g., Dropbox, Google Drive).

Non-approved options should only be used for backups, never for primary storage.

For archiving completed data see Data Storage - Completed Data.

The basic rules for storing data and safeguarding against data loss are:

DO keep three copies in separate places i.e., on at least two different types of media (physical device or cloud) and in another location (physical location or cloud)
Ensure at least one copy is stored on a JCU approved solution.*

DON'T keep the only copy of your research data on a physical device e.g., hard drive (PC, laptop or external HDD) or USB key.
These can easily be lost, damaged or fail.

The optimal combination of storage solutions will depend on your specific workflow, the volume and sensitivity of your data, and your preferences for file access and collaboration. For instance, you may prefer to work on your PC’s hard drive and synch to JCU Microsoft OneDrive if factors such as internet access, performance, or application compatibility are important. On the other hand, synching from OneDrive back to your PC (ensure you have sufficient space), facilitates collaboration and provides access to version history and a cloud backup if local storage fails. In practice, a combination of these approaches is likely to be helpful.

IMPORTANT: The following hypothetical research projects and storage options are provided for guidance only and are not prescriptive. To discuss a specific project and storage requirements in more detail please contact researchdata@jcu.edu.au


  1. JCU Microsoft OneDrive*
  2. Synchronised with hard drive on personal computer or laptop;
  3. Backed up to an external hard drive or cloud service

Field-work based:
no internet access

  1. Mobile device (tablet or laptop) for offline data collection in the field;
  2. Copied to an external hard drive to create local backups; and
  3. Synchronised with JCU Microsoft OneDrive* on return from the field

Computational analysis:

  1. Hard drive on personal computer or laptop for day-to-day work and analysis (ideally synchronised with JCU Microsoft OneDrive*)
  2. JCU HPRC* for large-scale processing and simulations; and/or JCU QCIF Research Data Storage (QRISCloud)* for large datasets (>~50 GB) and collaboration; and
  3. External hard drive(s) for local backup and portability

Sensitive data:

  1. Dedicated JCU “R share” drive* for highly sensitive data and collaboration within the research team;
  2. JCU Microsoft OneDrive* for remote access and external collaboration via link (non-identifiable data)
  3. Encrypted external hard drive stored onsite for offline backup

Active Storage and Collaboration Options

 JCU Microsoft OneDriveJCU Microsoft TeamsJCU HPRCJCU QCIF Research Data Storage (QRISCloud)
Storage Capacity 5 TB 25 TB per team Up to 5 TB and
 250, 000 files
>~50 GB up to many TB and 1,000,000 files
Collaborating with JCU researchers
Collaborating with external researchers12
Sensitive Data
Remote Access
Data Stored in Australia
Deleted File Recovery3
via Service Now request
Suitable for Backups
Best Feature Quick to setup, easy to use, access from day one.Includes other methods for collaboration along with file sharing. Excellent for use with HPC compute for data analysis.Large-scale data storage
Getting SetupJCU Microsoft OneDriveMake a collaboration tool request.

JCU Service Now

Accessing the HPC



  1. Microsoft Team team owners can add guest accounts or external account.
  2. Researchers can apply (via ServiceNow) for external collaborators to have access to their JCU HPC account.
  3. Within 30 days.