Information ServicesStoring data securely

The personal data stored on our devices is often irreplaceable. Regular backups can help to protect your important documents, photos, music, videos and contacts. 

At work, staff must preserve the confidentiality, integrity and availability of University data. Failure to do so could lead to financial penalties and reputational damage to the University. 

Staff should store University data on centrally-provided storage. Confidential information must be encrypted if stored on a mobile device.

Why backup? What are the risks?

A backup is a copy of your files which can be used if the original files are lost, damaged or infected.

There are many ways files can be lost unexpectedly: 

  • theft or loss of your device
  • hardware failure (hard drive failure is a very common cause of data loss)
  • fire, flood, or accidental damage
  • ransomware or other malware infections
  • accidental file deletion

Top tips for storing data securely

Backing up personal data:

  • plan for total loss (such as theft of your laptop)
  • consider using cloud storage to back up up personal data, such as OneDrive, DropBox or iCloud
  • if backing up on an external hard drive, store it in a different location from your computer, otherwise it could be stolen or damaged at the same time
  • password-protect your data, if possible, when backing up to an external hard drive
  • back up mobile devices regularly as their portability means they are more likely to be lost, damaged or stolen

Working with University data

Use University-provided storage, such as H: and i: drives, Strathcloud and OneDrive for Business. Data is stored securely on-site, with data replicated between multiple datacentres. There is no need to make your own backups as data is backed up automatically.

Avoid using commercial cloud services to store or back-up University data. The risks of using external cloud storage include:

  • data can be held in other countries and/or different legal jurisdictions
  • IP rights can be affected  
  • external providers could go out of business with little warning

University cloud storage

The University provides secure cloud storage for you to use as your primary storage, as a backup, to access your files remotely, or to share files with others.

Undergraduates and postgraduate taught students

Undergraduates and Postgraduate Taught students have access to OneDrive online file storage.

Staff and postgraduate researchers

Onedrive for Business is the University's cloud-type storage application. Use it to safely store electronic files, or share files without the need for email or memory sticks.

Onedrive for Business provides features such as:

  • accessing and syncing data across multiple devices
  • easily sharing data with others, including external collaborators


The University must ensure that confidential information is protected from accidental release into the public domain. University-owned laptops and mobile devices must be encrypted.  Personal devices used to store work-related information should also be encrypted. 

What is encryption?

Encrypting is a form of encoding to obscure the meaning to the uninitiated.

Encryption in transit

Protects against a message being intercepted in transit. If a party did intercept the message, they could not understand the message.

httpS: Data that you transmit to a website starting with httpS is encrypted, meaning only you and the website can understand it. If someone else were “listening on the wire” (or wireless), they could not make sense of the data.

VPN: a Virtual Private Network allows you to send all your internet traffic via another location, and all your data in encrypted between you and the other location.  If someone else were “listening on the wire” (or wireless), they could not make sense of the data. The University can provide VPN access to route your traffic via the University.

Encryption at rest

Protects against a party accessing data from the device.

Device: Device encryption protects against the loss of the device. If a mobile device, laptop or USB stick had device encryption enabled and the device was lost, a third party would not be able to plug the device into a computer and read the data. University laptops have device encryption enabled but make sure you check your mobile device settings and enable encryption.

File: File encryption protects just a single file from unauthorised access, even if a third party has access to the file. Commonly it is used when a file needs to be shared. It can be as simple as password protecting a file although using public key encryption is more secure but more complicated.  

When looking at encryption products you may come across different bit numbers, such as 128bit and 256bit encryption. The higher the number, the harder it is for someone to successfully workout or guess the key to unlock the encoding. 

Find out more

Please visit OneDrive for Business in Office 365 web pages.

Find out more about the by watching our video on Gpg4win encryption tool.

Visit the Information Security Policy web pages to find out more about the Protection of Information Held on Mobile Devices and Encryption Policy.