Keeping your data safe

Always have a backup 

You’ve carried out your experiment and carefully written down your observations. But then you lose your notebook. Disaster! Here are some ways to take care of your data.

  • If you’re writing down observations, make a backup by taking a photo of your notes using your phone.
  • If your data has been collected electronically, write down a copy (if that’s feasible) or save it on a USB key and transfer it to another computer.
  • Make sure that electronic data will be readable by other software and isn’t saved in a format that only the data logger can read. Saving data as ‘comma separated values’ (CSV) files is a safe way of moving data around.
  • If you’re not collecting sensitive information (remember your ethics), consider ‘cloud storage’ as a backup. Services like Dropbox, Google Drive and Apple’s iCloud will keep copies of your files online so that if your computer breaks, you still have a backup. But don’t rely on these exclusively!
  • If your data has been created electronically, don’t work on the original file. Make a copy and use that instead. That way, if you accidentally change any of the original values, you can go back to the original and double-check.

About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Go Further: A practical guide to extended science projects’ in August 2015.

Go Further: A practical guide to extended science projects
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development