IT and Library Services

Files and data management

The information security pages are all designed to assistance in ensuring your files, your personal data and the personal data of others that you may have access to are kept secure.

All files, no matter what format, or where they are stored, need to be consistently labelled and logically organised.

While we all want to keep hold of important data for as long as is necessary, one of the easiest ways to minimise a data breach is to simply delete data that is no longer required.

The length of time records should be kept can vary enormously and is subject to a raft of guidelines and policies, including University policy, government legislation and codes of good practice. For more details on how long to keep specific records, and guidance about setting up and managing local retention schedules, see Information and records retention schedules.


The documents listed below contain information and good practice regarding the use of email within the university.

Computer Files

The important art of file management and retention is covered in details in the Keeping and processing information pages of the Information compliance section of the website


What is a back-up?

The more important the data and the more often they are used, the more regularly they need to be backed-up.

To back-up is to produce a secondary copy of files to store elsewhere, so you can restore the originals in cases of data loss.

Such loss can be caused by malicious hacking and virus infection, hardware, software or storage media failure, accidental changes or deletion of files by colleagues, or unexpected events such as power failure, fires and floods.

To help you decide what to back-up and when, think about what you'd need to restore in the case of loss.  Which data are crucial for your work?   You may choose to only back-up certain data, or to back-up files you use more regularly than others.

Please refer to our Data Classification Policy and Information Handling Procedures for guidance on how and where different types of data should be stored. The University has adopted this policy to safeguard the confidentiality, integrity and availability of its information assets.

Who does back-ups?

That depends on where you store your data.

Information and Library Services perform regular back-ups of the University's centrally managed network file servers and shared areas (for those on Windows PCs this is your G: drive and any shared areas such as U: drive).

You are responsible for backing-up:

  • Anything on your computer hard drive (i.e. the C: drive or your home filestore);
  • Your laptop;
  • Your home computer (if used for work);
  • Un-networked lab or office computers;
  • External storage media (e.g. hard drives, memory sticks and disks).

If you want to double-check whether you have to back-up your files, speak to the IT Service Desk on ext 7555

How should I do a back-up?

If your data is stored on a centrally-managed server, you don't need to make back-ups.

If data is stored elsewhere, make two or three back-ups of all important documents and data.  One back-up should be stored in a different physical location from the others.  Choosing different types of storage media or using media from different manufacturers is also preferable.

The choice of storage media for back-up depends on the quantity and type of data you have.  Options include:

  • Memory sticks, CD/DVD and remote, online back-up services may be convenient for small amounts of data;
  • Hard drives or magnetic tapes may be more appropriate for large volumes or when you need to store data offline for security reasons;
  • External hard drives are often the quickest, cheapest and most convenient method.

How do I know my back-up is working?

You should test your back-up at regular intervals to validate its completeness and integrity.

You can test your back-up by comparing the copies against one another to make sure they correspond e.g. by matching file size, dates and checksum / hash tags.

A checksum or hash sum is a unique fingerprint which can be used to ensure that the file or program has not been changed during transfer or storage.

Who can help me with back-ups at the University of Greenwich?

The University's IT Service Desk are able to provide more advice on the back-up options available to you:


Telephone: 0208 331 7555

Paper Files

Paper files need to be consistently labelled and logically organised.