Saving and Backing up
Author: Celia Taylor
Affiliation: University of Huddersfield
Date written: May 2005
In qualitative research you generate huge amounts of data which you can not afford to lose. It is therefore good practice too:
Regularly save your data (every time you make important changes). Depending on what you are working on it could be hourly, daily, weekly or monthly. A good way of deciding how often to save is how much can you afford to lose.
Never just rely on your computer hard drive or one CD/Zip/DVD copy. They can suddenly go wrong or become corrupted.
Have a number of current back-ups on CD/Zip/DVD of you whole project in various locations e.g. work, home and at your parents. Just in case your computer is stolen or there is a flood or fire.
Develop a meaningful system to name you back-ups (including the date is one way to keep track of versions e.g. chap1_120405 refers to the version of Chapter 1 saved on the 12th of May 2005).
Make frequent back-ups (copy of ALL the files and documents related to your research project) this is called a 'generation'. These are vital in case a current version become corrupted or if you regret some changes you have made and want to refer back to the previous version or draft. It is up to you to decide how often you need to do back-ups (daily, weekly or monthly).
Find out if your organisation have a back-up facility you can use
This advice can seem over-the-top but if you were to lose all your data it could mean literally losing years of work.