Research data management

Research data storage explorer

Curtin has developed the Research data storage explorer to help students and staff identify the best places to store their research data.

The explorer asks a series of questions and uses the information to narrow down storage options. It then shows a table of information, allowing you to compare features of the recommended choices.

Explorer help

Who is this for? – the explorer is intended for Curtin HDR students and staff who work with research data.

When should it be used? – the explorer should be used when making decisions about data storage and access, e.g., while completing a data management plan (DMP). The explorer can also be useful when your storage needs change.

Analysing data? – The eResearch page has tools and contacts for general data analysis. If you need extra computational power, the explorer can recommend options with integrated cloud computing.

Data classification? – If you aren’t sure how to classify your data, have a look at data sensitivity for additional help.

How do I get help? – if you need help with the explorer, start by checking the information here in the Research Toolkit. If that doesn’t answer your question, please contact the Library Research Data team at:

What if it doesn’t find a suitable storage option? – if the explorer is unable to find storage options that meet your needs, or if you have feedback, please contact the Library Research Data team at:

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Research drive (R:)

The Research Drive (or R: drive) is a shared network drive for storing research data at Curtin University. It is the main and default storage option for research data generated by Curtin staff and students. It is provided by DTS and is hosted on AWS.

Please note the following regarding the R: drive:

  1. R: access is secure - only you and those people you nominate can see the files stored there, so it’s safe to keep sensitive information there.
  2. Once you have completed your research, you are required to store your data for a certain period as outlined in your DMP. The R: drive is Curtin’s preferred location for this.
  3. All R: drives require a completed and approved Data Management Plan. Creation of an R: drive is done after your DMP is approved by a Supervisor or Principal Investigator. The approver process is outlined from p2 in the DMP Tool help document linked below.

Once your drive is created, changes to access and storage space can be requested from DTS. Please see the links below on how to make these requests.

Your R: drive should be located in the networked drives whenever you log on to any Curtin computer.

If you need to access your R: drive on your own personal laptop while on campus, please follow the DTS guide to mapping the R: drive.

If you need to access your R: drive while off campus on your own laptop, please follow the DTS guide to using the Curtin VPN client. Once completed, follow the guide for mapping the drive.

For pages that require a staff log-in, students can find the information through Oasis or SupportU.

Research Drive specific recommendations

DTS give the following recommendations when using the Research Drive:

  1. Keep all individual files below 1000GB in size.
  2. Limit the number of files within a directory to 20,000 files.
  3. Limit the number of folders within a directory to 10,000 folders.
  4. It’s fastest to copy the files to your local computer from R:, update the documents and then copy them back once finished.
  5. If you’re not actively using files, it’s best to add them to an archived file using a file compression program such as Winzip or 7-Zip, which will make them easier to store.
  6. To protect your data against integrity loss during transfer, you should consider applying checksums. Software such as WinMD5Free checks that the file in the new location and the file in the old location are identical.

Combining storage options

As you plan your research, one single data storage option will not be the best option over all the phases of your research. You may use another option to analyse your data or make it easier for collaborators to access. All research projects will need to use more than one data storage location over the project’s life, if only for backups and retention.

Because frequently moving your active data between storage locations increases the risk of data leakage and miscommunication with collaborators or supervisor, you should plan, document, and communicate (if relevant) how your storage locations will interact and overlap.

You should consider the following:

  • Can your data be broken down into smaller parts to be kept in the most suitable location for that part to minimise data shifts?
  • If you are moving the data to a different location for collaboration purposes, do you need to move the complete dataset or just a smaller part?
  • At what stage does the data need to be moved to a new storage location?
  • How will you track which version is the current version when multiple versions are kept? How will your collaborators know? File and folder naming approaches may help.
  • At what stage does data become outdated and need to be deleted?
  • If you are backing up file versions from multiple locations to one backup location, how will you know which files are the rights ones to back up from each location? Versioning may help.
  • If you are considering using external hard drives for storage, ensure you follow Curtin data security advice.
  • In almost all cases, the Research drive is the best option for meeting the retention requirements for your research data at the end of your project.

If you are regularly moving data between multiple storage options, you should consider regularly applying checksums to confirm the integrity of the transferred dataset. DTS recommends using WinMD5Free which is available via Software Centre on Curtin managed computers.

Storage Costs

When considering the suitability of various storage methods for your research data, you should keep in mind that reliable storage methods come with a cost - and usually the greater the storage space required, the greater the cost.

Some cloud services may provide their services free of charge if your data size requirements are low. Others may charge you by the gigabyte or terabyte once you reach a certain dataset size; other will charge by how often you upload and download the data.

When using the Research Drive you may be asked to follow certain guidelines and processes in order to help DTS control costs of providing you with large amounts of storage. These might include:

  1. Archiving inactive files with archiving/compression software (such as WinZip or 7-Zip) will help reduce the size of data stored.
  2. When shifting the file formats of your data, move the original files to an archival storage location to save space.
  3. When working with downloaded datasets, only keep the files that are relevant to your work and delete the unnecessary files/folders.

Whatever your choice of storage location, by staying aware of what data you need to store, you can control the cost to yourself or your institution.

Further help