Overview of Data Storage at Fred Hutch

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The Hutch supports a number of options for storing your data, specifically Database storage, File storage, Scratch storage, Object storage and Collaborative storage options. The storage you use to store your data will depend on the nature of the data and the anticipated use. Here we provide a basic overview of what resources are available to researchers for data storage. For more detailed information on each of these topics summarized here including setup instructions and limitations, please refer to each of the articles in this section of the sidebar.

Storing protected health information (PHI) data

Please check with your supervisor before you store any PHI data on Fred Hutch systems as your data set may have compliance requirements that would not allow you to store the data on any of the existing systems. In almost all cases you should be working with de-identified data which can be stored on any of the above storage systems. If you require to store PHI data you should only use systems that support 1. Encryption at rest (e.g. on the hard drive), 2. Encryption in transit (e.g. through the network) and 3. access auditing (a systems log who accessed a file what time). Also, PHI can only be stored on systems that are approved by ISO.

This is an overview of supported features:

Feature Secure File Fast File Economy File OneDrive
Encryption at Rest - - X X
Encryption in Transit X - X X
Access auditing X - X X
Approved for PHI by ISO Yes No Yes pending

Additional resources for identifying whether your data is de-identified or not and the Fred Hutch IRB’s information on HIPAA compliance can be found at the linked CenterNet pages.

Storage Allocation and Costs

Please see an overview of file allocation amounts, features and costs on Centernet. For expenses charged for your group for data storage in these systems, please see the storage chargeback portal. This portal also displays the amount of data in TB that is stored in each location for each Investigator.

Note: You can typically access the monthly billing information during the first 10 days of every month

Database Storage Systems: REDCap, SQL and DB4Sci

There are several options available at the Fred Hutch for storing data in a database system. These supported systems span a wide range of services to meet the various needs of Fred Hutch researchers. These include REDCap (supported by Collaborative Data Services based in PHS), MSSQL Server (supported by CIT Enterprise Application Services) and DB4Sci (aka MyDB, supported by SciComp, and provides access to four database engine types including Postgres, MariaDB (MySQL), MongoDB, and Neo4j).

File Storage: Storage in Home, Fast, Secure

File storage keeps your data on disks and allows access to your data using familiar tools you’re used to: Unix commands like cat, cp, ls, and rm, browser tools like Windows Explorer or OSX’s Finder (to browse drives mapped to your local workstation), and most common Bioinformatic tools. These storage systems are similar to the hard drive on your computer, just typically larger and faster.

Economy Storage: Object Storage

Object storage systems scale better in capacity and performance and are much cheaper to operate than traditional file storage systems. Cloud computing depends very much on object storage systems such as Amazon’s AWS S3. There are a number of features and benefits of object storage systems, such as better sharing of data and much better handling of meta data (e.g. annotations). At Fred Hutch we use object storage predominantly for very large files (e.g. BAM files) and for archiving purposes.

Temporary Storage: Scratch

The scratch file system is a file storage system that works differently than the systems intended for long term data storage. It is maintained by SciComp for temporary storage of research data during active analysis. This is a large, high-performance storage system. It is not designed to be as available or as robust as the home or fast file systems (these features were traded for lower cost and greater volume)- that said, it has shown itself to be quite reliable and reasonably fault tolerant.

Collaborative Storage Options

These storage systems have capabilities allowing you to share data with people outside the Hutch, with or without a HutchNet ID. These include Aspera and OneDrive.


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