So you’ve decided to upgrade your research lab management by implementing an electronic lab notebook (ELN). An important aspect to consider as you do your research on the various options available is data security — your ELN of choice should make sure that your research information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. We’ve created a list of features to look for in order to find the best electronic lab notebook to keep your data safe:
The leading ELN options in recent years use cloud storage, and for a good reason. Cloud storage is elastically scalable, allowing automatic backups which can be stored for extended periods. Additionally, by choosing a cloud-based ELN, you’ll benefit from security and disaster recovery plans that have been tested according to the highest standards, as well as a large number of customers. An on-premise system, in comparison, might undergo a less thorough inspection.
Cloud ELNs also offer data redundancy and replication. Cloud storage vendors keep multiple copies of your data within each data center, and according to current standards, are required to have at least two physical and geographical data centers. This is another advantage over on-premise storage, where your data can be lost in the case of disaster or power failure. With cloud storage, if one location fails, the others stay functioning and maintain your information.
There are additional benefits to cloud storage besides improved security — a cloud-based platform enables users to access their information from any device connected to the internet and manage data in real-time, as well as collaborate with teammates on experiments and collections.
When managing data online, cyberattacks become a genuine issue that research organizations should take seriously. When looking for the best electronic lab notebook, check that the provider limits access to the platform to approved networks and users only. Ask about firewall and traffic monitoring measures, and make sure that they are continuously updated.
Limiting access to the platform isn’t enough — In order to keep your research information secure, all information that is transferred, processed, and exported from your ELN must be encrypted using industry best practices.
Make sure that data sent over the world wide web to your ELN, including through Transport Layer Encryption (TLS), leverages at least 128-bit symmetric encryption keys, and that data transmitted between data centers for replication purposes is done so across encrypted links (AES-256 or equally strong encryption methods).
As mentioned above, cloud storage enables frequent automatic backups. The best electronic lab notebook should have daily database backups, with a long retention period (at least a month). Prefer ELNs that also include version history and save a copy of your work every time a change is made — this makes it possible to restore versions from specific dates and times.
The 21 CFR Part 11 regulations set the standards that digital records should meet. According to these guidelines, every laboratory data management system should have the following features:
These features are a basic requirement for the best electronic lab notebook.
In any laboratory, but especially in organizations with many employees, it’s important to be able to limit specific experiments and projects to selected members. Make sure that experiments can be set to private, or that specific team members can be given viewing privileges.
Be careful of ELN providers that will try to lock your information behind a paywall. Your ELN of choice should allow you to export your data at any time, with no extra fees or data locks.
Don’t forget to consider the case in which you decide to stop working with your ELN provider. You don’t want to be suddenly blocked from accessing your information. Make sure that your agreement states that the data will be kept available for your export on the platform for an extended period.
Labguru is an all-in-one solution for laboratories including ELN, inventory, storage management and lab informatics. We can help you improve your data management, increase efficiency and reduce costs, all within a secure and compliant environment. You can trust that your data is in good hands while you focus on your research:
This is only the beginning. To learn more about our security measures, download our security whitepaper here: