Data Management

This section gives you information about PDC’s storage solutions. Working with PDC can involve transferring data back and forth between your local machine and PDC resources, or between different systems at PDC. PDC offers two storage systems AFS and CFS (Lustre), and an efficient usage of PDC requires knowing when to use what.

If you have SNIC Swestore allocation, please check File transfer section on how to transfer files to/from Swestore.

Where to store my data

As the speed of CPU computations keep increasing, the relatively slow rate of input/output (I/O) or data accessing operations can create bottlenecks and cause programs to slow down significantly. Therefore it is very important to pay attention to how your programs are doing I/O and accessing data as that can have a huge impact on the run time of your jobs. Here, you will find a quick guide to storing data, ideal if you have just started to use PDC resources.

What are AFS and Lustre?

The Andrew File System (AFS) is a distributed file system which uses a set of trusted servers to present a homogeneous, location-transparent file name space to all the client workstations. The Lustre system is a parallel file system optimized for handling data from many clients at the same time.

Why is there more than one file system?

The AFS and Lustre file systems offer different and often complementary functionality. AFS allows a huge number of computers all over the world to share files between each other. Users can define custom groups and control access-rights effortlessly, suitable for project groups. But, AFS has a small storage volume and slow access speed, making it unsuitable for directly access with computational processes. On the contrary, Lustre is accessible only to PDC systems, but provides large storage and, is highly optimized for fast access with computational processes.

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Where do I find it?

You can find AFS at /afs/
You can find Lustre at /cfs/klemming

Before running your processes

  • All files for Beskow computations must go on Lustre

  • Big data files for Tegner computations should be put on Lustre

  • Small data files for Tegner computations can be put on AFS but should be put on lustre

Things to remember when using all types of files

  • Minimize I/O operations: larger input/output (I/O) operations are more efficient than small ones – if possible aggregate reads/writes into larger blocks.

  • Avoid creating too many files – post-processing a large number of files can be very hard on the file system.

  • Avoid creating directories with very large numbers of files – instead create directory hierarchies, which also improves interactiveness.

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Things to remember when using Lustre

  • Avoid all unnecessary metadata operations – once a file is opened, do as much as possible before closing it again. Do not check the existence of files or stat() files too often.

  • Open files as read-only if possible – read-only files require less locking and therefore put less load on the file system.

  • Avoid using ls with flags like -l , -F, or --color as this requires ls to stat() every file to determine its type, which puts an unnecessary load on the file system. Use such flags only when the extra information is really needed and do not have them as default.

    Comparison summary of AFS and Lustre

    File system



    Suggested usage

    1. small files that needs backup

    2. unsuited for files accessed by computation

    1. large files

    2. program code

    3. files accessed for computation




    Storage size

    default 5GB in home directory

    total 5 PB shared with all user

    File access speed



    File access

    1. own implementation of Access Control List

    2. user can define own group

    3. access permissions per directory (not file)

    1. supports standard POSIX ACLs

    Secure access

    uses Kerberos for authentication


    files in home directory are backed up

    files are not backed up


    1. user home directory

    2. project volumes (backup optional)

    3. installation/configuration of PDC environment

    4. source code packages

    1. scratch, suitable for temporary storage

    2. nobackup area, suitable for analysis results

    3. Own developed program code

After running your processes

  • After performing computations at PDC, please move important data files to your own departmental storage system or to a national storage system provided by SNIC (Swestore). Remember, space on Lustre is currently limited, and NOT backed up.

  • Smaller data files can be moved to AFS

SNIC environmental variables

To simplify for the user how to find different folders, SNIC has provided a number of specific variables which indicate in which folders data should be stored. On Beskow the module snic_env is loaded by default but in order to access these variables on Tegner, a module must be loaded

module add snic-env

Table of the environmental variables




Where important data are backed up. By default in your AFS home directory


Not backed up folder for large data which resides in /cfs/klemming/nobackup


Name of the cluster you are logged into


Name of the site, i.e. PDC


Scratch folder for storing temporary data which resides in /cfs/klemming/scratch

Nodes for file operations

At PDC we have a number of transfer nodes setup. These nodes are dedicated for large file transfers but also for extensive file operations involving large amount of data or many files. It is important that you use these nodes for extensive file operations as not to overload the login node.



Intended for…

Dedicated tranfer node

Large/many file(s) transfer Extensive operation concerning files in the file system

Dedicated tranfer node

Large/many file(s) transfer Extensive operation concerning files in the file system

login node

Submitting jobs and small file transfer

login node

Submitting jobs and small file transfer

File transfer

We recommend the following methods for this:

  1. scp/rsync: With Secure Copy (SCP) and RSYNC you can copy files between your local machine and PDC systems. It uses SSH for data transfer, and uses the same authentication and provides the same security as SSH.

  2. AFS client: With an AFS client on your local machine transferring files between PDC and your local computer is as easy as drag-and-drop, or, using a cp command.

  3. Swestore (iRODS): If you have SNIC Swestore (iRODS) allocation, please check here on how you can transfer files to/from it.