Cluster Storage

Each research group is provided with storage space for research data. The storage is separated into three tiers: home, project, and scratch. You can monitor your storage usage by running the getquota command on a cluster. Except for on the Milgram cluster, no sensitive data can be stored on any cluster storage.


The only storage backed up on every cluster is home. Please see our HPC Policies page for additional information about backups

HPC Storage Locations


Home storage (backed-up daily) is a small amount of personal space to store your own scripts, notes, final products (e.g. figures), etc. Your home storage is for you only: please do not share this storage with other people. Home storage is backed up daily.

When running the getquota command, the usage and file count values for home are for your own usage.


Project storage (not backed-up!), intended to be the primary storage location for HPC research data in active use, is shared by your entire research group.

Project space is available to all the members of our group via the project link in the home directories, or via the absolute path: /gpfs/<filesystem>/project/<group>/<netid>

60-Day Scratch (scratch60)

Scratch storage (not backed-up!), intended to be the storage location for temporary data, is shared by your entire research group. Scratch space is best used for intermediate files that can be regenerated/reconstituted if necessary. Files older than 60 days will be deleted automatically, ..and you may be asked to delete files younger than 60 days old if this space fills up.

Scratch space is available via the scratch60 link in your home directory, or via the absolute path: /gpfs/<filesystem>/scratch60/<group>/<netid>.

HPC Storage Best Practices

Staging Data

Large datasets are often stored off-site, either on departmental servers or Storage@Yale. Efficient processing of these data can be achieved through temporary staging on the high-performance parallel filesystem. The permanent copy of the data remains on the off-site storage, while a working copy is placed in scrach60, for example. These data can then be processed efficiently and the output files transmitted back to the off-site storage. A sample workflow would be:

# copy data to temporary cluster storage
[netID@cluster ~]$ rsync -avP netID@department_server:/path/to/data $HOME/scratch60/
# process data on cluster
[netID@cluster ~]$ sbatch
# return results to permanent storage for safe-keeping
[netID@cluster ~]$ rsync -avP $HOME/scratch60/output_data netID@department_server:/path/to/outputs/

The working copy of the data can then be removed manually or left to be deleted when it reaches the 60-day limit.

Prevent Large Numbers of Small Files

Parallel filesystems, like the ones attached to our clusters, perform poorly with very large numbers of small files. For this reason, there are file count limits on all accounts to provide a safety net against excessive file creation. However, we expect users to manage their own file counts by altering workflows to reduce file creation, deleting unneeded files, and compressing (using tar) collections of files no longer in use.

Backups and Snapshots

Retrieve Data from Home Backups

Contact us at with your netid and the list of files/directories you would like restored.

Retrieve Data from Snapshots (Milgram)

Milgram runs snapshots nightly on portions of the filesystem so that you can retrieve mistakenly modified or removed files for yourself. As long as your files existed in the form you want them in before the most recent midnight, they can probably be recovered. Snapshot directory structure mirrors the files that are being tracked with a prefix, listed in the table below.

File set Snapshot Prefix
/gpfs/slayman/pi/gerstein /gpfs/slayman/pi/gerstein/.snapshots
/gpfs/milgram/home /gpfs/milgram/home/.snapshots
/gpfs/milgram/project /gpfs/milgram/project/groupname/.snapshots

For example, if you wanted to recover the file /gpfs/milgram/project/bjornson/rdb9/ (a file in the bjornson group's project directory owned by rdb9) it would be found at /gpfs/milgram/project/bjornson/.snapshots/$(date +%Y%m%d-0000)/rdb9/ .


Because of the way snapshots are stored, sizes will not be correctly reported until you copy your files/directories back out of the .snapshots directory.

Last update: May 23, 2020