Quick Start

This guide will provide you with the basic information needed to get up and running on the HBS grid. If you'd like more detailed information, each section has a link to fuller documentation.

Step 1: Request an account

HBS grid accounts are available to HBS faculty, research associates, and doctoral students. Please contact fill out the HBS Compute Grid Account Request Form to set up your account.

Temporary guest accounts on the research grid are available for HBS faculty members' collaborators. These are granted on a 6-month basis and may be renewed as necessary. Collaborators should work with HBS Faculty and the RCS staff to submit the necessary the documentation for the account request. Please see Logging In for details.

Step 2: Use VPN software when necessary

For any off-campus connections, or on-HBS-campus connections that are not through HBS Secure wireless or a wired ethernet, the HBS grid must be accessed through a virtual private network software (VPN). A VPN ensures that all communication between your computer and grid resources are encrypted, especially when using a public wireless network.

Persons with HBS-issued desktops and laptops should have the necessary software; collaborators should have received the software with their account information. Please see our VPN page for details if you need to re-download the software or for connection information.

Step 3: Login via GUI or terminal

If you are comfortable with the use of Unix/Linux command lines or Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) you can connect to the Grid using those methods.


NoMachine is a Graphical User Interface (GUI) client on the Grid. NoMachine allows users to utilize Grid software, RAM, and processor resources as though they were working on a desktop (i.e., Stata on the Grid looks like the desktop version of Stata). Unix/Linux knowledge is not needed.

For terminal (SSH) sessions to the Grid, initiate your SSH session with your Grid username to the hostname researchgrid.hbs.edu with the appropriate terminal client (e.g. 'ssh jharvard@hbsgrid.hbs.edu'). We recommend Terminal for Mac, and SecureCRT for Windows machines.

See our Terminal Login to the HBS Grid page for more details on ways to connect to Grid resources.

Step 4: Determine where your files will be stored

Once an account is created for you on the Grid, your home directory will be located at /export/home/<group>/<username> (e.g., /export/home/faculty/jharvard). You can store and use files here that will be accessed only by you, including configuration files, custom scripts, and programming libraries (e.g., Python modules or R packages). Home folders have a storage quota, the size of which is determined by your group (e.g., doctoral, RA, or faculty).

If you are working on a project with one or more persons, a group project location can be created or may already exist for your work. The path for project spaces is /export/projects/<projectname>.

We encourage the use of project spaces over home folders when appropriate for two reasons: 1) these are accessible by all persons in the project (home folders are not); and 2) the storage quota is much larger. And please do not store desktop and laptop backups on the Grid storage, especially in project spaces.

Please see Using Storage for more information.

Step 5: Transfer any files you may need

You can transfer data to your home folder or project spaces via three methods: using GUI client, mapping/mounting a shared drive, or by terminal commands. A graphical tool like FileZilla is available cross-platform for Mac OSX, Linux, and Windows. Windows users who prefer SCP can download it from company's website.

Mounting shared volumes is great for small amounts of data while on-campus; from off-campus this method will be slower than other methods. And finally, power terminal users can use scp or rsync. Please see our Accessing Spaces & Folders sections in the Using Storage heading of this website for more details.

Step 6: Run a job or application

There are three different ways of running a job on the Grid, depending upon the type and mode.

  • If you are logged in via the NoMachine GUI, you can run jobs interactively using packages in the Applications menu, or open a terminal window to use the command line for more flexibility.
  • For terminal users, the command-line can be used to submit batch jobs and initiate interactive sessions using X-windows. 

Information on executing jobs in detail is available in Running Jobs.


Last Updated 1/15/19