Storage and data transfer

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Once you can log in to the cluster, you can start setting up your calculation job and you need your data. Therefore, two questions arise:

1. Where to store data?
2. How to transfer data?

Here, we explain the storage system on the cluster and give examples how to transfer data between your local computer and the cluster.

Quick examples

Upload a directory from your local computer to /cluster/scratch/username ($SCRATCH) on Euler

$ scp -r dummy_dir

Log in to the cluster and check your disk space quota

$ lquota
| Storage location:     | Quota type: | Used:      | Soft quota:   | Hard quota:   |
| /cluster/home/sfux    | space       |    8.85 GB |      17.18 GB |      21.47 GB |
| /cluster/home/sfux    | files       |      25610 |        160000 |        200000 |
| /cluster/shadow       | space       |    4.10 kB |       2.15 GB |       2.15 GB |
| /cluster/shadow       | files       |          2 |         50000 |         50000 |
| /cluster/scratch/sfux | space       |  237.57 kB |       2.50 TB |       2.70 TB |
| /cluster/scratch/sfux | files       |         29 |       1000000 |       1500000 |


A monitoring tool is running every night and checking the quota and usage of all storage. You will receive an email notification when you are close to reach the quota (at most once per week).

If you wish to disable this service, you can run storage-alerts disable.

Personal storage for all users


$ cd $HOME
$ pwd
  • $HOME is a safe, long-term storage for critical data (program source, scripts, etc.) and is accessible only by the user (owner). This means other people cannot read its contents.
  • There is a disk quota of 16/20 GB and a maximum of 160’000/200’000 files (soft/hard quota). You can check the quota with the command lquota.
  • Its content is saved every hour/day using snapshot, which is stored in the hidden .snapshot directory.

Global Scratch

$ pwd
  • $SCRATCH is a fast, short-term storage for computations running on the cluster. It is created automatically upon first access (cd $SCRATCH) and visible (mounted) only when accessed.

Local Scratch

/scratch on each compute node ($TMPDIR)

  • The local scratch is intended for serial, I/O-intensive applications. Therefore, it has a very short life span. Data are deleted automatically when the job ends.
  • Scratch space must be requested by the job and has no backup.

See how to use local scratch

Group storage for shareholders

Shareholders can buy the space on Project and Work as much as they need, and manage access rights. Quota can be checked with lquota. The content is backed up multiple times per week.


$ cd /cluster/project/groupname

Similar to $HOME, but for groups, it is a safe, long-term storage for critical data.


$ cd /cluster/work/groupname

Similar to global scratch, but without purge, it is a fast, short-or medium-term storage for large computations.

The folder is visible only when accessed.

External Storage

Please note that external storage is convenient to bring data in to the cluster or to store data for a longer time. But we recommend to not directly process data from external storage systems in batch jobs on Euler as this could be very slow and potentially put a high load on the external storage system. Please rather copy data from the external storage system to some cluster storage (home directory, personal scratch directory, project storage, work storage, or local scratch) before you process it in a batch job. After processing the data from a cluster storage system, you can copy the results back to the external storage system.

Central NAS/CDS

Groups who have purchased storage on the central NAS/CDS of ETH provided by ID Systemdienste can access it on our clusters.

Other NAS

Groups who are operating their own NAS can export a shared file system via NFS to Euler. The user and group ID's on the NAS needs to be consistent with ETH user names and groups.

The NAS share needs to be mountable via NFSv3 (shares that only support CIFS cannot be mounted on the HPC clusters), and exported to the subnet of our HPC clusters. The NAS is then mounted automatically on our clusters under


File system comparison

File system Life span Max size Snapshots Backup Small files Large files
$HOME permanent 16 GB o
$SCRATCH 2 weeks 2.5 TB - - o ✓✓
/cluster/project 4 years flexible optional
/cluster/work 4 years flexible - o ✓✓
Local /scratch duration of job 800 GB - - ✓✓ o
Central NAS flexible flexible

Retention time

  • Snapshots: up to 7 days
  • Backup: up to 90 days

Data transfer with command line tools

Using scp command

Upload dummy_file from your workstation to your home directory on Euler

$ scp dummy_file

Download dummy_file from Euler to the current directory on your workstation

$ scp .

Copy a directory to Euler

$ scp -r dummy_dir

Example: upload a directory with rsync

Create two files in the dummy directory and use rsync to transfer the folder

$ mkdir dummy_dir
$ touch dummy_dir/dummy_file1 dummy_dir/dummy_file2
$ rsync -av dummy_dir

Data transfer with graphical tools

Table: Graphical file transfer programs
Linux macOS Windows
FileZilla FileZilla




Globus for fst file transfer

Infographic Globus univers

see Globus for fast file transfer

Further reading

< Accessing the cluster


Modules and applications >