Data storage and the Data Protection Act for businesses

The Data Protection Act requires that you keep your data secure, and making sure it is in a physically secure location is essential if you are to comply with the act. You have several options when it comes to where you store your data - this guide will talk you through the options and explain what you need to do to keep your data safe.


Servers are effectively large hard drives which form the basis of your office computer network and store your data, allowing multiple users to connect at once. With servers, you can store and edit files, as well as control who accesses what - so if you'd rather certain members of your team didn't have access to sensitive files, you can protect them with a password.

  • Store data centrally
  • Allow multiple users to store and edit files
  • Control who accesses what

External hard drives

External hard drives provide additional storage space for a single user. Typically, they are about 512 gigabytes, although capacities are rising all the time, and hard drives of up to eight terabytes are now available. External hard drives are useful for backing up data and very portable, but more susceptible to theft than other methods of storage, so make sure you secure them and store a copy of your data elsewhere.

  • External hard drives provide additional storage space
  • Hard drives range from 200 gigabytes to about two terabytes
  • Make sure you store a copy of your data elsewhere

The Data Protection Act 1998

When you're storing data, remember to comply with the Data Protection Act. The Act requires that you keep your clients' personal data secure, 'with appropriate technical organisational measures taken to protect the information'. In practice, this means you should encrypt personal data and protect it with a password, as well as taking physical precautions to keep it safe - lock away computers at night and secure servers and external hard drives with anti-theft cables.

  • The Act requires that you take steps to keep personal data secure
  • Encrypt sensitive data with a password
  • Take physical precautions to keep data safe

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