Storage & Preservation

Information on this page is divided into several sections. Basic storage provides options for local and online locations. Secure storage is dedicated to options that let you encrypt or password-protect your data. Finally, information on York's Preservation Platforms are intended to guide decision about where to permanently preserve and share your media once your project is finished.

If the media you're working with is not sensitive, you have a number of options for data storage.

Local Storage

Hard drives, portable drives, and USB keys are all great options for file storage as long as precautions are taken to deal with possible data loss.

A USB or portable drive may be convenient, but the portability comes with risk of loss or damage. Hard drives are terrific for longer-term storage but they do fail.

Larger or longer-term projects may want to invest in a Network-Attached Storage system from Synology or Drobo. These devices let you create large storage arrays with multiple disks, including the ability to recover data if one of the disks in the array fails.

Online Storage


York faculty and staff are encouraged to use Microsoft's OneDrive service, which provides up to 5 terabytes of online storage space. Log in at using your email address, and you will be prompted to authenticate with your Passport York credentials.

Undergraduate and graduate students can sign up for a free Office365 account, which provides up to 5 terabytes of OneDrive storage space.

Data stored on OneDrive can be shared with anyone at York, but is generally not accessible from outside the university.

Google Drive

Undergraduate students at York get a free Google Apps account, which includes up to 50 gigabytes of online storage. For more information, see

The public version of Google Drive is available to everyone, and will provide 15 gigabytes (or more) of space.

One advantage of Google Drive is the ability to share files with anyone. However, Google's privacy policy specifies that Google collects and uses information about you, your devices, your activity, your location, and more.


Dropbox provides 2 gigabytes of storage for its free account. This is likely insufficient for anything but small multimedia projects. Additional storage space can be obtained with a monthly subscription.

Dropbox's privacy policy notes that they collect and use information about you, your data, your contacts, your devices, and more. This data may be shared with Dropbox's partners and other users.

If the media you are creating or collecting for your project is research data, you must ensure that information is stored securely. This typically means it is encrypted, protected with passwords, or kept on storage media that cannot be accessed online. Refer to the Research Ethics Office's Data Security Practices for Personally Identifiable Information in Research and their Guidelines on Secondary Use of Data to understand your responsibilities in this area.

Local Storage

If sensitive files are stored on hard drives, portable drives, or USB keys, they can be encrypted and protected with a password. There are free tools you can use to create secure "containers" where this kind of media can be safely stored.

See our step-by-step guide on using VeraCrypt or the Mac Disk Utility to create secure storage containers.

Online Storage

Services like Google Drive and Dropbox are convenient for online file storage, but we do not recommend them for storage of research data or information that may infringe upon anyone's privacy. 

In situations where media is sensitive, files should be end-to-end encrypted – meaning that they are encoded using a password (“key”) – in a way that ensures that you have sole knowledge of AND control over the encryption/decryption keys. Google Docs, iCloud, Dropbox, and WeTransfer are encrypted, but they hold the keys. They are vulnerable to attack, court orders, security flaws, state espionage, etc. Do not rely on these services. 

More secure means of sharing files online include the following options, none of which are formally supported by York. 

Resilio Sync

(Price: $60-$100 depending on how you want to use it)

For peer-to-peer, encrypted file sharing that does not need a “cloud” but does expect people to be “online” so files can be synchronized. It works by having participants share files directly with one another (it uses BitTorrent technology).  This software is not free but it is easy to use, works well, and synchronizes quickly. 


(Price: $1+)

End-to-end, client-side encrypted online storage. They are based in the Netherlands

50GB of storage costs €0.08/month. You can get 1TB for €4.99/month 


(Price: $0-$100)

End-to-end, client-side encrypted data storage.

Basic sign-up gets you a 3-user license for free (good news: it’s free! Bad news: it’s slow!) $100 gets you up to 9 users

If you’re savvy, you can also download the server and set up a whole system yourself [not recommended unless you have a solid foundation in IT skills (or dedicated IT support) and have available server infrastructure] 

Repositories can be used to store, preserve and share scholarly material. York's repository platforms can be used to deposit your own scholarly work, preserve digitized materials, and serve as a means of sharing your research data.

York's repositories do not currently support streaming for video and audio (like YouTube or SoundCloud). For video/audio distribution ideas, see Sharing Your Work.


YorkSpace is our institutional repository. If you are a registered graduate student or faculty member, you can use it to store permanent copies of your own research outputs (anything for which you hold the copyright), or pre-prints of articles that may be permitted by publishers' agreements. See our full guide on YorkSpace for detailed information.


York's Dataverse can be used to share and archive research data. Datasets in this repository are publicly available and have Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) assigned to serve as permanent links.

York U Digital Library (YUDL)

The York University Digital Library preserves digital objects (digitized books, photographs, films, videos, sound recordings, websites, posters etc.) that have either been digitized from York's collection, or have been acquired by by the Libraries or its research partners.

Video and audio files can be large, and managing them can be a challenge. Regardless of how you choose to store and back up your data, consider using the 3-2-1 backup rule:

  • Keep three copies of your data...
  • ...with at least two of the copies stored on different devices...
  • ...and at least one of the copies stored in a different physical location

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