Having a backup and archival plan for all your digital work, including your lab notebooks on the ELN platform, is always recommended. While the LabArchives service has a record of high availability, there are some scenarios in which you could lose access to your notebooks temporarily. And because most researchers need to retain their notebooks for a number of years, having a process for archiving notebooks that are completed is important. The strategies below will help you create a backup and archival plan that takes a number of scenarios into account:
Scenario: Loss of access when you are offline
If you are able to plan ahead, use the utility, Create an Offline Notebook. This will provide you with up-to-date read-only versions of your Notebook pages (HTML format) and attached files. If you need to enter information, while you are offline, record it in new files and upload these as new attachment entries when you are reconnected.
Scenario: Loss of access to information already recorded in a notebook due to an outage
(Note: Scheduled outages for maintenance and updates to the LabArchives service are generally planned for weekend and late night hours.)
- Routinely place a secondary copy of all files you attach to the ELN in another location such as a department or campus server. You may find it helpful to use the same folder structure as in the ELN to avoid confusion.
- Export (PDF) or create offline copies (HTML) of notebooks on a regular basis. For notebooks that are being actively edited, establish a schedule of exporting that will keep pace with your changes. If you sign notebooks, as they are completed, you will need to export these only once.
Scenario: Loss of access to edit or enter new information during an outage
- Whenever possible, create and edit documents in their native applications so you could continue working on them during an outage.
- Record new information in new files and attach these files as attachment entries in your Notebook once access resumes.
Scenario: A lab member leaves the University
- In accordance with the Policy on Data Stewardship, Access, and Retention, the PI should have the role “Owner” of all notebooks in his/her lab. This will ensure that no information is lost when an individual leaves the University and loses accounts associated with his/her NetID.
- To allow the departed member to access notebooks after he/she has left, the PI (or designee) can change their role to Guest for the appropriate notebook(s) and set the appropriate edit/view rights.
Scenario: You want to archive notebooks as either a backup and/or retention strategy
- On a regular basis, use the utility, Create an Offline Notebook, to export your entire notebook as a package consisting of HTML files and the most recent version of attached files. (Note, if you attached multiple versions of a file to an attachment entry, only the most recent one will be included in the export package.) The offline notebook files do not include version histories of pages/entries or comments. Store this export package in a secure location.
- If you will not need to include attached data files in your archive (because, for example, you are retaining copies of these elsewhere), you may want to use the Export to PDF utility for notebooks or Print/PDF for individual notebook folders, pages, or entries. PDF copies include rich and simple text entries, thumbnails of images and widget content (including ChemDoodle drawings), annotations added to images, user name, and time/date stamps. PDFs do not include attached files, version histories of the page or entries, or comments. You can either store the digital PDF files in a secure location, print them out and store paper copies, or do both.