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Data Storage

Introduction

This document is about storing and archiving your files on tape and/or hard disk.  Where you store your data depends primarily on whether you are actively using it in association with computations, or just need it for possible future reference.

WestGrid has quite a lot of storage at various sites (see below) but with the data explosion our systems can become saturated.  Please be careful with storage use, and try to ensure that you clean out or archive as much data as possible.

Compute systems

Each WestGrid compute system has file systems (such as /home and /global/scratch) for short term storage of files you need for your computations on that system for the time period in which you are doing computations.  There may also be local scratch space available on the compute nodes.

On most systems home volumes are backed up and scratch volumes are not. If you rely on backups on a particular system, check the QuickStart Guide for that system to make sure that backups are provided.

This storage space is limited, so there are quotas on disk usage.  Quotas may vary by system.

Refer to the storage section of the QuickStart Guide for the particular system on which you working for more information on such things as the amount of local storage and quotas and backup policies.

Filesystems on the WestGrid compute sites should be used only for data that you are actively using for computation.  Please move or remove data which you are not actively using.  The normal practice is to move inactive but valuable data to the WestGrid Silo central storage facility (see below for details).

Storage facilities

The primary WestGrid long-term and archival storage facility is Silo at the University of Saskatchewan.

Two compute systems, Bugaboo at SFU and Hermes/Nestor at UVic have their own associated storage systems for use when you have large files which you are actively using with computations on those systems.

If you store data on the storage facilities, please delete the copies on compute systems to free up those resources. 

File Transfer to Storage Sites

WestGrid provides the Globus high performance file transfer system.  Please see the following

  1. Globus Online File Transfer User Guide (web-based utility with cross-Canada functionality)
  2. gcp (command-line utility)

If you plan to transfer a very large amounts of data (many terabytes), please contact support first.

Storage Policies

The storage facilities provide several levels of protection from the risks of losing your data.  Different volumes have different policies on the number of backup copies kept.  Since keeping more copies is expensive in terms of storage resources used, there are more usage restrictions on these volumes.  For some you will need an allocation from the RAC to use them.  For all volumes, there are limits to resources used without a RAC allocation.

There is a WestGrid Storage Policy document that we encourage you to read.  The policy document covers appropriate use, allocations, quotas, backups, archives, ownership of data, retention of data, and risks of data loss.