Computer Laboratory

Personal Storage Study

How can we deal with the plethora of digital data that we all produce and use every day? How can we organise our data? Can clever automations and visualizations help us? How can we access data independently of when and where it was created? How can we preserve the privacy of personal data that we store on the internet?

These are only some of the questions that we are trying to address in our research. However, in order to validate and evaluate our approaches, we need data from real people – like you! We hence kindly ask you to participaty in our study and provide some data about your personal storage. The study is two-fold: you will be asked to

  1. fill in a short survey about devices you own and online services you use, and
  2. run a simple, open-source tool on your computers that will scan and analyse your personal data and submit anonymised and summarized information to us (you will be able to see exactly what information is submitted).

Your participation provides valuable real-world data for academic research and will, of course, be treated confidential (even though it is completely anonymised). Furthermore, after running our tool, you can sign up to receive a notification about any scientific results published using the data you provided (your email address will be stored separately from the other data, and will not be linked to it).

Participation will take about 5-10 minutes of your time.

Participate in the study


Running on another machine? Enter your user token here:

What about privacy?

We take privacy very seriously – in fact, it is one of the motivations for this research! With this study, we assure you that:

  • Your data will only be stored anonymised and will never be related to your person. If you decide to provide your email address (which is entirely optional), it will be stored seperately from the study results.
  • Our analysis tool will never:
    • Save or transmit file or path names and content,
    • leak any personal information,
    • install any persistent software on your computer.

The tool we ask you to run is open source and you can satisfy yourself that it does not do anything evil by looking at its source code.
We will shown you all data that is being submitted before doing so. Furthermore, the tool will delete itself from your computers without a trace once it has done its job and submitted the data.
Even if you are not happy to run our scanning tool, you can still fill in the survey and provide some valuable information.

More information

If you would like to find out more about our work, you can

  • provide your email address at the end of the study and hear about the scientific results that we derive from your data,
  • look at our analysis tool's source code,
  • read about the Nimbus project, which this study is providing data for.

Furthermore, we are always happy to hear from you and answer any questions you have. If you would like to get in touch, please email Malte at .

This research is done by Malte Schwarzkopf and Dr Steven Hand at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact Malte directly:


Postal address:
Malte Schwarzkopf
University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory
Willam Gates Building
15 JJ Thomson Avenue
Cambridge CB3 0FD, UK
Tel.: +44 1223 763683