File Sharing

How to Share Research Files

One of the continuing technical challenges that we face as researchers is how to safely and quickly share data files.  “File sharing” is a hot topic in today’s current events, due to increased attention to intellectual property rights in international politics.  However, there are many legitimate reasons that one might wish to share files: co-authoring of papers, shared use of similar datasets, and large project work and data collection, among others.

With research data file sizes often cresting 25MB, email is neither the quickest not the most secure way of file sharing.  On the other hand, writing data to physical media like a DVD or flash drive is often time-consuming.  The Pop Center Research Computing Core is happy to recommend a few alternatives.

Netstoragefor those at HSPH

Those of us working at HSPH computers may have noticed that the Novell log-in provides us with access not only to the workstation computer, but also to a variety of HSPH network drives.   If open up Windows Explorer, they should appear on the left-hand pane along with your C:/ drive.  There you will find the network directories to which you have access, as well as a P:/ personal drive, to which only you have access. The HSPH storage is appropriate for data at security levels 1-3.

These drives are remotely accessible through HSPH’s Netstorage.  For instructions, and a link to the browser application, please click here:

Once you log in, you may upload or download files to any of the directories that you normally can access from an HSPH computer.  You can “lock” the files so that they will be read-only on he network, while you work on them locally.   Be aware that Netstorage will re-date the creation date of your files to whenever you upload them.

Accellionfor those at HSPH

The HSPH IT Department also provides a way to securely transfer files, using the Accellion document transfer system.  After signing up for an account, you can upload files to the secure server, and send a link to another person with an Accellion account.

The link to Accellion secure files remains active for 7 days.  This method is preferable for the transfer of large documents, and files that require high data security. It is appropriate for data at security levels 1-3. For more information about setting up an Accellion account, click here:

Harvard-MIT Data Center’s Research Computing Environmentfor those with Harvard affiliation

One of the most effective ways of sharing data that we’ve found, is the HMDC RCE.  This is a remote desktop environment that you can access from any computer.  In addition to being able to utilize the cluster computing resources available on the RCE, you can also use an FTP program to upload file to your personal “home” directory as well as your project directories.  The Pop Center maintains a number of read-only data repositories as well.  RCE storage is appropriate for data at security levels 1-2.

To request an account on the RCE, please email Mack Ramsey and include your name, affiliation, and storage space requirements.  To read more about the RCE please go to:

Dropboxfor everyone

Dropbox is a third-party service that is an excellent and seamless way to synch your files among your computers, as well as the computers of people you have shared folders with.  Once the software is installed, the “Dropbox” folder on your computer automatically contains the same contents as the “Dropbox” folder on all of your other computers.  Simply save files to this folder and the Dropbox software takes care of he rest – you can open the files and edit them, and they will synch automatically.  You can share folders in your “Dropbox” folder with other Dropbox account holders.  This service is free for your first 2GB of storage.  This is not appropriate for research data and should only be used to share documents such as drafts, documentation, codebooks, and the like.

To start using Dropbox, please go to: