Data Storage and Retention


Off-device storage options

There are multiple choices for data storage at Bigelow, mainly Google Drive (My Drive and Shared Drives) and our on-premise NetApp storage cluster. Each has advantages and disadvantages that are important to understand before choosing where to store your data.

Google Drive - My Drive

Google Drive - Shared Drives

Internal Storage

Deleted file retention

30 days

30 days

6 months

Relative speed when accessed on-site




Relative speed when accessed remotely




Best used for...

• Personal files that aren't important to institutional memory/continuity

• Documents

• Collaborations

• Data that needs to be shared with people outside of Bigelow

• Sensitive data

• Data used on the HPCC

• Large datasets


Linked to your user account

Unavailable to others after employment ends

Requires a Google account to use (for external collaborators)

Requires VPN to access off-site

Backups options

You are responsible for backing up data that is stored on your workstation and lab computers.

External drive - The most common way to backup a computer is using an external drive (e.g. WD Passport) and software like TimeMachine (macOS) or Windows Backup. If it is kept unplugged from your computer most of the time, this offers excellent ransomware protection.

Google Drive - You can backup files from your computer to Google Drive using the Google Drive Desktop app. In addition to more easily accessing your Google Drive files from your computer, the Google Drive Desktop app allows you to backup system folders (e.g. My Documents or your home folder) to Google Drive. These directories will be accessible on the Google Drive website via the "Computers" section of the left sidebar.

Alternatively, by storing files directly in Google Drive and accessing via the web interface or the Google Drive Desktop app, you can avoid having multiple copies of your files. Bigelow uses a third party to backup individual user account Google Drive data as well as data in Shared Drives.

Third-party solution - There are many third-party cloud backup solutions, like BackBlaze computer backup that will automatically keep your local files synced with cloud storage when you are connected to the internet.

Internal storage - A more manual option is to make regular backup copies of your data on our internal storage system or keep your data there as it is backed up offsite daily. Note that the internal storage system is slower to access remotly (via the VPN), so it may not be ideal for those who work remotely or need to access files while traveling.

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