Research Data Storage Documentation

Types of Available Storage

This page contains some computing terminology which may not be familiar to some users. If you require further explanation please contact the Research IT team.

MS Windows-Style Shares vs Traditional Unix / Linux Network Filesystems

Each storage “share” (i.e, your allocated storage) created will be either CIFS or NFS — either a traditional MS Windows share, or traditional Unix/Linux “export” (network filesystem). This determines where/how you access your storage.

When applying for storage we will usually ask “where do you want to access your storage?” – either on your campus Desktop PC / laptop or on a central compute platform such as the Computational Shared Facility (if that is a system you use). This will allow us to determine whether you need CIFS (for desktops) or NFS (for compute platforms) storage – see below for further details. But you do not actually need to know the technical names or details of the different types of storage – we will determine this from your use-case.

Common Internet File System (CIFS)

For most users, research data storage will be created as a CIFS share, i.e., a standard “MS Windows share”, which can be mapped as a network drive on a MS Windows or OS-X computer and mounted as a remote CIFS file system on Linux machines. This is similar to your P-Drive, but will appear as another drive letter (e.g., an R-Drive).

Network File System (NFS)

NFS exports may be created, i.e., traditional Unix/Linux network filesystems. These may be accessed:

  • from only IT Services and Faculty-run systems (e.g. the CSF or iCSF);
  • and only on systems which are located within IT Services machine rooms. So, for example, NFS exports are not available on FSE managed Linux public cluster machines.
  • NFS exports are not available directly to user-administered machines.

Should users wish to access data which is located on such NFS filesystems (or copy data between NFS and CIFS filesystems), the RDS-SSH server is recommended as a convenient place to access all of your RDS shares from your desktop / laptop.

(The above strict limitations are in place because of security issues related to the current NFS configuration. We hope to have authenticated NFSv4 available at some point in the future, which addresses these issues, at which time we hope to relax the access policy.)

Resilience and Backup Options

Resilience and backup options are also available.

Last modified on December 4, 2019 at 2:14 pm by George Leaver