The Research File System (RFS) at Indiana University
On this page:
- System retirement
- System information
- Accessing RFS
- Best uses for RFS
- Working with data containing PHI
The UITS Research Storage team will retire the Indiana University Research File System (RFS) in January of 2017. Given the age of the system's hardware, a recent decline in development of the OpenAFS file system, and other limitations, UITS has determined the RFS will be unable in the future to reliably provide the high levels of storage capacity, security, and performance that IU researchers require.
Retirement of the RFS is following this timeline:
- Week of May 9, 2016: The option to create new RFS accounts was removed from the IU Access Management System.
- Week of August 1, 2016: RFS accounts not updated since January 1, 2015, or earlier became read-only.
- Week of August 8: RFS accounts not updated since January 1, 2016, or earlier became read-only.
- Week of August 15: Remaining active accounts were evaluated.
- Monday, October 17: Personal RFS accounts not updated since August 15, 2016, and projects not updated this year became read-only.
- Week of January 2, 2017: RFS will be officially decommissioned and no longer accessible to users
Research Storage staff have notified RFS users regarding best practices and recommendations for migrating their data. See the following announcements:
- OpenAFS Research File System (RFS) retirement notice
- OpenAFS Research File System (RFS) retirement notice #2
However, to determine the best strategy for migrating your data, UITS recommends also consulting your local IT Pro. You should plan to migrate your data well in advance of the target dates indicated in the RFS retirement timeline.
For many users, particularly those who frequently share files or use desktop productivity applications (e.g., Microsoft Office), the IU Box service is a suitable replacement for RFS. For users working with sensitive data, Box at IU provides two special types of accounts:
- Box Health Data Accounts: To use Box at IU for storing and sharing research data containing protected health information (PHI), you must use a Box Health Data Account (BHDA). BHDAs are set up, monitored, and audited by Clinical Affairs IT Service (CAITS).
- Box Entrusted Data Accounts: To use Box at IU for storing and sharing non-health-related institutional data classified as Restricted, UITS recommends using a Box Entrusted Data Account (BEDA).
For more, see:
- At IU, how do I request a Box account for use with sensitive data?
- What types of data are appropriate for my IU Box account?
- Protecting sensitive data in Box
The Indiana University Research File System (RFS) is a centralized storage area based on OpenAFS. The IU RFS is compatible with all major operating systems, and accessible using various methods from on and off campus. RFS data are regularly backed up, and reside in physically secure environments on the IU Bloomington and IUPUI campuses.
|Machine type||Research file system|
|Operating system||Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5|
|Nodes||4 file servers
4 gateway nodes
|Network file system protocols||
OpenAFS, CIFS (Samba), SFTP/SCP, HTTPS
|Total disk space||50 TB|
100 GB (default) per user, 100 GB (default) per project; increases as needed
|Backup and purge policies||
The system is backed up nightly. Data recoveries are possible within 30 days of deletion. The system is never purged.
4 Gbs (currently limited by network connection)
You can access RFS from your personal computer using several methods; choose the method that best fits your work habits, operating system, and location:
- Samba: The Samba interface is popular with Windows and Mac OS X users, because it lets you map (or mount) RFS on your desktop (like any other disk drive or a portable storage device). Via Samba, your RFS area appears as a desktop window filled with your folders and files. See At IU, how do I use Samba to mount or map to the RFS on my workstation?
- SFTP: If you routinely copy files that are 1 GB or larger, use SFTP, a fast, secure tool specialized for file transfer. SFTP is commonly used from the command line, but graphical SFTP clients are also available. See At IU, can I use FTP or SFTP to access my RFS space?
- RFSWeb: RFSWeb is a secure website that lets you navigate to your RFS storage area using your web browser. It's accessible from on and off campus, and compatible with most operating systems. See At IU, what is RFSWeb and how do I use it?
- OpenAFS client: The OpenAFS client is a somewhat advanced tool that works best under Linux, but Windows and Mac OS X versions are also available. The OpenAFS client displays your RFS storage area as part of your computer's local directory structure, and is well suited for high-volume, high-intensity work. Installing the client on your computer can be challenging, and it's helpful to have experience with the finer details of your operating system. See At IU, how do I install and configure OpenAFS on my workstation for use with the RFS?
Best uses for RFS
RFS is primarily a file system, and not intended as archival storage. Archival storage for IU researchers is available on the Scholarly Data Archive (SDA).
RFS is best suited for:
- Storing relatively small files
- Storing files that are updated frequently
- Storing frequently accessed files
- Storing files that need to be shared, especially group project work
Do not use RFS for:
- Backup storage; RFS is intended as working space, use the SDA to store backups
- Storing concurrently updated files (e.g., Access databases)
- Storing relational databases (e.g., MySQL or Postgre SQL databases)
Working with data containing PHI
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) established rules protecting the privacy and security of individually identifiable health information. The HIPAA Privacy Rule and Security Rule set national standards requiring organizations and individuals to implement certain administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of protected health information (PHI).
This system meets certain requirements established in the HIPAA Security Rule that enable its use for research involving data that contain protected health information (PHI). You may use this resource for research involving data that contain PHI only if you institute additional physical, administrative, and technical safeguards that complement those UITS already has in place. For more, see When using UITS Research Technologies systems and services, what are my legal responsibilities for protecting the privacy and security of data containing protected health information (PHI)? If you need help or have questions, contact UITS HIPAA Consulting.