Storage refers to preserving your data files in a secure location you can access readily.
Backup refers to preserving additional copies of your data in a separate physical location from data files in storage.

Storage systems often provide mirroring, in which data is written simultaneously to two drives. This is not the same thing as backup since alterations in the primary files will be mirrored in the second copy.

Backup preserves older copies so you can restore your data if accidental deletion/alteration or a disaster such as fire, flood, or hardware malfunction damages your data in storage.

When it comes to safeguarding your important data assets, remember both storage and backup are essential!


  • A granting agency may require that you retain data for a given period and may ask you to explain in a data plan how you will store and back it up.
  • Storing and backing up your data ensures that it will be there when you need to use it for publications, theses, or grant proposals.
  • Good preservation practices help make your data available to researchers in your lab/research group, department, or discipline in the future.

Storage Options

OptionDescriptionSize and costAccess and securityNotes
Campus Computing Infrastructure (CCI)Shared, scalable, secure options for a variety of needs, from home/group directories to long-term archivingVaries. Scale-Out Storage costs $0.20/GB/yr, based on actual usageNetID restricted. Can add permissions for campus and external users, via Manifest. Contact CCI for restricted data needs. Shared Storage can scale up to hundreds of TBs. Contact CCI to schedule a meeting with the CCI Engagement team to discuss your needs.
UW-Madison BoxAn online service for storing, managing, and sharing filesUnlimited storage, free to UW-Madison faculty, staff, and studentsNetID restricted; can add permissions for campus or external users.

See Terms of Use for policies on use with sensitive, restricted, and HIPAA-regulated data.

Information about security of Box apps

Group/Project Directories are available
UW-Google Apps
Google's suite of online applications has expanded to Google Drive, which gives you an increased storage quota and new synchronization features.Unlimited storage, free to UW-Madison faculty, staff, and students

NetID restricted; can add permissions for other campus users, using their NetIDs.
Not a secure environment for restricted personal data
A UW-Madison/Google agreement protects the intellectual property rights of UW-Madison facstaff and students (unless shared with others outside the university).
Departmental server or storage networkYour department's IT unit may offer storage on their server or network.VariesProtected by user accounts and passwords.Contact your department's IT unit for information.
MINDS@UWThe UW System libraries' digital archive.Free to UW-Madison faculty, staff, and studentsCan be shared with the public or restricted to specified UW-Madison users.Accepts materials as discrete files in final unchanging form only.
Materials will receive a permanent URL and will be maintained indefinitely.
External hard drives-
available at DoIT Tech Store
Also known as hard disk drives.VariesNot secure unless kept in a secure location and sensitive data are encrypted.Best for short-term storage (approx 1-5 yrs) since disk failure can occur.
Portable media- available at DoIT Tech StoreFlash drives, CDs, and DVDs.VariesNot secure unless kept in a secure location and sensitive data are encrypted.Best for short-term storage (approx 1-5 yrs) since media formatting can fail.
Third Party Cloud Storage

and others.
VariesVariesUW-Madison has no negotiated terms of services with these providers. See Guidelines for use of non-UW-Madison applications for research for help evaluating your risks and rights.

Backup Options

OptionDescriptionSize and costNotes
Bucky BackupA managed service for data on DoIT’s Enterprise Storage platform and in a secondary backup location on campus. Provides high reliability, availability, and redundancy for files, applications, and servers. Three levels are available:



Varies, depending on the frequency of file revisions and number of versions stored. For some scenarios, the cost is approximately $1/GB/yr or lower.Allows you to schedule automatic backups for critical data
Departmental serverYour department's IT staff may offer backup.VariesContact your departmental IT staff for details.
Portable media-
available at DoIT Tech Store
Flash drives, CDs, and DVDs.Varies
External hard drives-
available at DoIT Tech Store
Also known as hard disk drives.VariesNot recommended as the sole long-term backup as disk/media failure are risks over time.