Science-IT department data principles


Need a place to store your data? This is the place to look. First, we expect you to read and understand this information, at least in general. Then, see Requesting Science-IT department storage space.

This page is about how to handle data - not the raw storage part, which you can find at data storage. Aalto has high-level information on research data management, too.

What is data management?

Data management is much more than just storage. It concerns everything from data collection, to data rights, to end-of-life (archival, opening, etc). This may seem far-removed from research practicalities, but funding agencies are beginning to require advanced planning. Luckily, there are plenty of resources at Aalto (especially in SCI), and it’s just a matter of connecting the dots.

Oh, and data management is also important because without data management, data becomes disorganized, you lose track, and as people come and go, you lose knowledge of what you have. Don’t let this happen to you or your group!

Another good starting point is the Aalto research data management pages. These pages can also help with preparing a data management plan.

Data management is an important part of modern science! We are here to help. These pages both describe the resources available at Aalto (via Science-IT), and provide pointers to issues that may be relevant to your research.

Data storage at Aalto SCI (principles and policies)


This especially applies to CS, NBE, and PHYS (the core Science-IT departments). The same is true for everyone using Triton storage. These policies are a good idea for everyone at Aalto, and are slowly being developed at the university level.

Most data should be stored in a group (project) directory, so that multiple people can access it and there is a plan for after you leave. Ask your supervisor/colleagues what your group’s existing groups are and where the data is stored. Work data should always be stored in a project directory, not personal home directories. See below for how to create or join a group. Home directory data can not be accessed by IT staff, according to law and policy - data there dies when you leave.

All data in group directories is considered accessible to all members (see below).

All data stored should be Aalto or research related. Should there be questions, ask. Finnish law and Aalto policies must be followed (in that order), including by IT staff. Should there be agreements with third-parties regarding data rights, those will also be followed by IT staff, but these must be planned in advance.

All data must have an owner and lifespan. We work with large amount of data from many different people, and data without clear ownership becomes a problem. (“ownership” refers to decision-making responsibility, not IPR ownership). Also, there must be a clear successor for when people leave or become unavailable. By default, this is supervisor.

Personal workstations are considered stateless and, unless there is special agreement, could be reinstalled at any time and are not backed up. This should not concern day to day operations, since by default all data is stored on network filesystems.

We will, in principle, make space for whatever data is needed. However, it is required that it be managed well. If you can answer what the data contains, why it’s stored, and how the space is used, and why it’s needed, it’s probably managed well for these purposes.

Read the full Science-IT data management policy here.

Information on all physical locations how to use them is on the storage page.


Everywhere on this page, “group” refers to a certain file access group groups (such as a unix group), not an organizational (research) group. They will often be the same, but there can be many more access groups made for more fine-grained data access.

Data is stored in group directories. A group may represent a real research group, a specific project, or specific access-controlled data. These are easy to make, and they should be extensively used to keep data organized. If you need either finer-grained or more wide data access, request that more groups are made.

Please note, that by design all project data is accessible to every member in the group. This means that, when needed, IT can fix all permissions so that all group members can read all data. For limiting the access more fine-grained than these project groups, please have a separate group created. Data in a group is considered “owned and managed” by the group owner on file. The owner may grant access to others and change permissions as needed. Unless otherwise agreed, any group member may also request permissions to be corrected so that everyone in the group has access.

  • Access control is provided by unix groups (managed in the Aalto active directory). There can be one group per group leader, project, or data that needs isolation. You should use many groups, they make overall management easier. A group can be a sub-group of another.

  • Each group can get its own quota and fileystem directories (project, archive, scratch, etc). Quota is per-filesystem. Tell us requested quota when you set up a project.

    • A typical setup would be: one unix group for a research group, with more groups for specific project when that is helpful. If there are fixed multi-year projects, they can also get a group.

  • Groups are managed by IT staff. To request a group, mail us with the necessary information (see bottom of page).

  • Each group has an owner, quota on filesystems, and some other metadata (see below).

  • Group membership is per-account, not tied to employment contracts or HR group membership. If you want someone to lose access to a group you manage, they have to be explicitly removed by the same method they were added (asking someone or self-service, see bottom of page).

  • To have a group created and storage space allocated, see below.

  • To get added to a group, see instructions below.

  • To see your groups: use the groups command or groups $username

  • To see all members of a group: getent group $groupname

Common data management considerations

Organizing data

This may seem kind of obvious, but you want to keep data organized. Data is always growing in volume and variety, so if you don’t organize it as it is being made, you have no chance of doing it later. Organize by:

  • Project

  • To be backed up vs can be recreated

  • Original vs processed.

  • Confidential or not confidential

  • To be archived long-term vs to be deleted

Of course, make different directories to sort things. But also the group system described above is one of the pillars of good data organization: sort things by group and storage location based on how it needs to be handled.


Backups are extremely important, not just for hardware failure, but consider user error (delete the wrong file), device lost or stolen, etc. Not all locations are backed up. It is your responsibility to make sure that data gets stored in a place with sufficient backups. Note that personal workstations and mobile devices (laptops) are not backed up.


Aalto strongly encourages to share the data openly or under controlled access with a goal of 50% data shared by 2020 (see The Aalto RDM pages). In short, Aalto says that you “must” make strategic decisions about openness for the best benefits (which practically probably means you can do what you would like). Regardless, being open is usually a good idea when you can: it builds impact for your work and benefits society more.

Zenodo ( is an excellent platform for sharing data, getting your data cited (it provides a DOI), and control what you share with different policies ( For larger data, there are other resources, such as IDA/AVAA provided by CSC (see below).

There are lists of data repositories: r3data, and Nature Scientific Data’s list.

Datasets can and should also be listed on ACRIS, just like papers - this allows you to get credit for them in the university’s academic reporting.

Data management plans

Many funders now require data management plans when submitting grants. (Aside from this, it’s useful to do a practical consideration of how you’ll deal with data)

Please see:

Summary of data locations

Below is a summary of the core Science-IT data storage locations.



Where available?


Group management?


Research time storage for data that requires backup. Good for e.g. code, articles, other important data. Generally for a small amount of data per project.

Workstations, triton login node

Weekly backup to tape (to recover from major failure) + snapshots (recover accidentally deleted files).

Snapshots go back

  • hourly last 26 working hours (8-20)

  • daily last 14 days - weekly last 10 weeks



Data which a longer life that project. Practically the same, but better to sort things out early. Also longer snapshot and guaranteed to get backed up to tape.

Workstations, Triton login node. /m/$dept/project/$group.

Same as above


Scratch (group based)/work (per-user)

Large research data that doesn’t need backup. Temporary working storage. Very fast access on Triton.

/m/$dept/$scratch/$groupname, /m/$dept/work/$username.


scratch: yes, work: no

See data storage for full info.

Requesting data storage space

See Requesting Science-IT department storage space.