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Stage Data

Large datasets are often stored off-cluster on departmental servers, Storage@Yale, in cloud storage, etc. Since the permanent home of the data remains on off-cluster storage, you need to transfer a working copy to the cluster temporarily. When your computation finishes, you would then remove the copy and transmit the results to a more permanent location.

A sample workflow using rsync 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 (which will happen automatically after 60-days). See the Archive Data and Transfer Data pages for more ways to move data efficiently to and from the clusters.

Transfer Partition

Both Grace and Farnam have dedicated data transfer partitions (named transfer) designed for staging data onto the cluster. All users are able to submit jobs to these partitions. Note each users is limited to running two transfer jobs at one time. If your workflow requires more simultaneuous transfers, contact us for assistance.

Interactive Transfers

We recommend using tmux to launch interactive transfers so that you are able to log out and leave the job running in the background.

# enter tmux shell
[netID@grace1 ~]$ tmux
# launch transfer job
[netID@grace1 ~]$ srun --pty --partition transfer --cpus-per-task=1 --time=6:00:00 bash
# start transfer
[netID@c01n03 ~]$ rsync -avP netID@department_server:/path/to/data $HOME/scratch60/
You can then type Ctrl+b followed by d to detach from the tmux session. This will leave your transfer running in the background inside the tmux session. For more details about how to use tmux, look at our guide here.

Transfers as Batch Jobs

A sample sbatch script for an rsync transfer is show here:


#SBATCH --partition=transfer
#SBATCH --time=6:00:00
#SBATCH --cpus-per-task=1
#SBATCH --job-name=my_transfer
#SBATCH --output=transfer.txt

rsync -av netID@department_server:/path/to/data $HOME/scratch60/
This will launch a batch job that will transfer data from to your scratch60 directory. Note, this will only work if you have set up password-less logins on the remote host.

Transfer Job Dependencies

There are sbatch options that allow you to hold a job from running until a previous job finishes. These are called Job Dependencies, and they allow you to include a data-staging step as part of your data processing pipe-line.

Consider a workflow where we would like to process data located on a remote server. We can break this into two separate Slurm jobs: a transfer job followed by a processing job.



#SBATCH --partition=transfer
#SBATCH --time=6:00:00
#SBATCH --cpus-per-task=1
#SBATCH --job-name=my_transfer

rsync -av netID@department_server:/path/to/data $HOME/scratch60/



#SBATCH --partition=day
#SBATCH --time=6:00:00
#SBATCH --cpus-per-task=1
#SBATCH --job-name=my_process

module purge
module load miniconda

conda activate my_env

python $HOME/ $HOME/scratch60/data

First we would submit the transfer job to Slurm:

$ sbatch transfer.sbatch
Submitted batch job 12345678

Then we can pass this jobID as a dependency for the processing job:

$ sbatch --dependency=afterok:12345678 process.sbatch
Submitted batch job 12345679
Slurm will now hold the processing job until the transfer finishes:

$ squeue
12345679       day  process    netID  PD      0:00      1 (Dependency)
12345678  transfer  transfer   netID  R       0:15      1 c01n04

Storage@Yale Transfers

Storage@Yale shares are mounted on the transfer partition, enabling you to stage data from these remove servers. The process is somewhat simpler than the above example because we do not need to rsync the data, and can instead use cp directly.

Here, we have modified the transfer.sbatch file from above:



#SBATCH --partition=transfer
#SBATCH --time=6:00:00
#SBATCH --cpus-per-task=1
#SBATCH --job-name=my_transfer

cp /SAY/standard/my_say_share/data $HOME/scratch60/

This will transfer data from the Storage@Yale share to scratch60 where it can be processed on any of the compute nodes.

Last update: September 2, 2020