IDA data storage service


This page is under development


IDA has changed in 2018/2019, and these instructions may no longer be accurate.

IDA is a storage service provided by the Ministry of Culture of Education / the Finnish Open Science and Research initiative / CSC. It can be used for storing very large files securely and for a reasonably long time. Quota can be in many TB, and quota is allocated by application.

The upstream instructions can be found at The upstream description can be found at

What it is for

Main article:

IDA is for stable research data which needs safe, somewhat long term storage. (However, it isn’t for very long term archival, another system is coming for that). It isn’t for active, day-to-day use. It can link data to permanent identifiers, store metadata, and also publish data via AVAA and make it searchable via Etsin.

If you just need large storage, Triton’s scratch is good for that. However, if you have many TBs of data, then finding a backup place is difficult (scratch is not backed up). IDA can serve that need.

IDA can also serve to make small or large data open (searchable and downloadable), via Etsin and AVAA. These three go together: IDA is storage, Etsin is search, AVAA is download server.

You automatically get a quota from Academy of Finland projects (and it says they encourage its use).

Registering and applying for space

Main article:

Everyone can apply for IDA space via your CSC account (but all IDA space is allocated to projects, not individual users). Anyone at a Finnish university can get a CSC account automatically. IDA space is

First, you need a CSC account. You can get this online via the Aalto authentication:

Once you have the CSC account, you need a CSC project. Only senior level staff (postdoc or above) can do this - you probably want it to be someone who will be here long term, since that is the point!. Apply for the project through the scientists user interface (SUI) ( The SUI can be rather confusing. First, go to eService → Resources and Applications → select “Academic CSC project”. The bottom of the page then changes to an application form. Fill this out: say you need a project for IDA (or whatever). You need to wait for an email for the CSC project to be approved.

After this project is approved, you can apply for IDA storage space to be connected to this project. Go to the SUI → eService → Resources and Applications, then go to Resources → Storage → IDA Storage Service. The application form below changes to the IDA application. Select the project which will receive the resources, then fill out the application.

You will get another email with your IDA password and path once it has been approved by Aalto’s IDA contact person. This is different from the project approval email from CSC (the right email has explicit IDA usernames and passwords in it). If you do not get the IDA info email within a day or two, ping Juha Juvonen at Aalto and ask if the project has been approved.

Confidential data

In many places, CSC states that IDA is not suitable for confidential data. This is because the command line interface does not encrypt files (though I had heard that it just doesn’t by default, but maybe it could be made to). Still, since they do not indent to support confidential data, we should not count on this for the future. However, confidential data is OK if it is strongly encrypted.

See our page on encryption for scientists.


Main instructions:

iRODS (and thus IDA) is an API-based file storage service. Thus, you use separate commands to get and put files. This comes out of the fact that this is designed for very big files and flexible, long-term storage. This is not too hard - it is like using FTP or sftp. There are also mountable filesystems, however this should not be used for daily work since they are not very efficient.

Not all tools are suitable for very large files - there are some reported problems that need to be worked around. See the CSC instructions for details and hints for large files.

Note that the IDA password is different than your CSC or Aalto passwords. Don’t use your CSC or Aalto password with IDA accidentally, some of the programs (command line tool in particular) don’t seem to handle it very securely (it is stored weakly obfuscated in a file in ~/.irods)


Through the CSC SUI, you can brows and upload files. See This is probably not good for extremely large files.

Command line

Main instructions:

irods commands: Aalto workstations and Triton have the irods command line tools (the “icommands”). Use the module system: module load irods.

Configuration file: You need to set up the config file (see the instructions). You need a extra path in it here:

On Aalto Linux, this is needed in the config file .irods/irods_environment.json (be careful with commas to make sure it stays valid JSON):

"irods_plugins_home": "/work/modules/Ubuntu/14.04/amd64/common/irods/4.1.9/var/lib/irods/plugins/"

On Triton, the corresponding directory is "/share/apps/irods/4.1.9/var/lib/irods/plugins/"

Practical usage

To be added once we have more specific use cases which are not covered above.

More resources