UiL OTS Labs

How-tos

Storing your (Research) Data

Last updated on 17 June 2021 by Ty Mees

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Click here for a short overview of this article

In the UiL OTS Lab you can put your data in various places. These places can essentially be divided into two categories: network storage and local temporary storage.

This how-to describes the differences between these two locations, and helps you figure out where to store your data. If you want to know how you can access your data, see the how-to on Accessing your (Research) Data.

Network Storage

The UiL OTS Lab provides project folders on the centralized data server of the university. These folders are accessible anywhere in the lab, other UU computers, as well as from home. You will find these folders on the O-Drive, under Research/GW/Projects.

An additional important advantage is that all data that is stored on one of the network storage locations is regularly backed up, which means your data is way more safe than if you store it just on one computer or on a USB drive.

These folders can be used to store data related to a specific project that should be accessible by everybody in your research group. This is typically where your (processed or unprocessed) experiment results and gathered data are stored, as well as your codebook, the minutes of your meetings, schedules, the paper you are writing collectively, etcetera.

This folder is accessible by everybody in your research group (provided they have been explicitly added; see the project folder request form) and by no one else.

You can request – and be a member of (or have access to) – multiple project folders. Generally, every running project in the lab is assigned exactly one project folder.

Corpora

We’ve also hosted the Corpus Gesproken Nederlands (CGN) as a special project folder. This folder is accessible by everybody with access to the lab, but you cannot change any of the files in that folder.

Sharing data

Previously, we provided a folder for exchanging data between lab-users. As the university now provides several alternatives for exchanging data, we’ve decided that this ‘open-to-everyone’ folder has become unnecessary.

An (incomplete) list of alternatives:

Local Temporary Storage

The network-storage locations have one important disadvantage: they are (relatively) slow. Any interaction with the networked files and/or storage requires additional steps and need to travel longer distances. Hence the interactions are slow.
In fact, the more users are busy with the storage the slower the interactions. You may compare this with a highway: A little traffic will have no impact on the speed of the individual cars (or files), but if the amount of traffic grows (more users are downloading/uploading files), the cars (or files) move with a slower speed and have to wait their turn.

When running experiments, timing is of the essence and having to wait for a file is often unacceptable. As a user you would not notice a file taking another 200 milliseconds to open, but if you are running a time sensitive experiment, and your trial starts 200 milliseconds later than planned, your results may very well become useless.

To counter this effect, local temporary storage is available on all computers in the UiL OTS Labs. This storage is not dependent on the “traffic” of the network servers and is fast enough for time sensitive experiments.

This storage does not have any of the advantages of the network storage, however, so you need to keep the following things in mind when using the local temporary storage:

Your data is not backed up automatically and your data is not accessible on any other computer than the one you saved it on. In fact, every once in a while, everything is removed from the local storage to keep our computers clean and fast. When using the local storage, you have to keep in mind the following things:

  • Always run experiments from the local storage. See this how-to for the correct procedure.
  • Always upload your data to the network storage before logging out or shutting down the computer. Don’t assume its safe.
  • Don’t assume you can access your data anywhere. You can not. It’s only stored on that computer. The storage is very local.
  • You can’t share or exchange local data. If you want to share data with others, you need to use the network storage.

Recap

You can store your data either on the network, or locally and temporarily on a lab computer.

If you are running an experiment, you should always copy your experiment folder to the local temporary storage of the lab computer you are running the experiment from. The best place to put an experiment is in Experiments on your desktop. Also see this how-to for the complete guide on how to run your experiments properly.

If you want to store data you’ve already collected, you should always put it in one of the network drives:

  1. On your U-drive if only you should have access to the data.
  2. In the project folder associated with your research if the data is related to your research project and / or other people in the same project folder should have access to it.

It’s quite possible that the options for storing or sharing your data mentioned above are simply not sufficient. There are alternative options provided by Utrecht University here:
https://www.uu.nl/en/research/research-data-management/it-solutions