Getting Started

What is ACCESS?

The Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Coordination Ecosystem: Services and Support (ACCESS) is a virtual collaboration funded by the National Science Foundation that facilitates free, customized access to advanced digital resources, consulting, training, and mentorship. ACCESS helps the nation's most creative minds discover breakthroughs and solutions for some of the world's greatest scientific challenges.

ACCESS's virtual cyberinfrastructure allows scientists to interactively share computing resources, data, and expertise. ACCESS resources may be broadly categorized as follows: High-Performance Computing, High Throughput Computing, Visualization, Storage, and Data Services. Many resources provide overlapping functionality across categories.

Explore ACCESS Resources

View the ACCESS Resource Catalog

Find your Campus Champion

Your Campus Champion is your local source of knowledge about high-performance computing opportunities and resources. Your Campus Champion can direct researchers and educators to national high-performance computing resources and services available to you, which will help you advance scientific discovery.

Your Campus Champions representative will:

  • Provide you with information about high-performance computing resources to researchers and educators, including resources available from ACCESS

  • Assist you to quickly get access to allocations of high-performance computing resources

  • Facilitate awareness and training workshops about the use of high-performance computing resources and services

  • Provide you with contacts within the high-performance computing community for quick problem resolution

  • Provide you with timely information on new resources, services, and offerings

Create a User Portal Account

In order to get access to ACCESS resources, you must create an ACCESS Portal account. The ACCESS Support Portal (ASP) is a web-based, single point-of-entry to the ACCESS system providing:

  • Allocation request submission capability

  • Access to all your ACCESS accounts and allocated resources

  • Up-to-date information on your accounts and allocation usage

  • Interfaces for data transfers, data collections, and other user tasks and resources

  • Subscriptions to user news & announcements

  • Training class registration and schedule

  • Access to the ACCESS Help Desk and User Forums

ACCESS user responsibility

You are responsible for your account and for protecting your passwords. See the account privacy policy here

This means:

  • Do not share passwords, do not write passwords down where they can be easily found, and do not use tools that expose passwords on the network. This includes private keys: make sure they are password-protected.

  • Close SSH terminals and log out when finished

  • Report Suspicious Activity. If you have any suspicion that your account or personal computer has been compromised by submitting a ticket on the ACCESS support portal.

Other Sign-In Options

After creating your ACCESS Portal account and logging in, you can log in with your ACCESS credentials, or you may use other login credentials such as a GitHub, Google, Microsoft, ORCID, or University account after linking your accounts as listed here.

Manage Your ACCESS Profile

You must manage your ACCESS User Profile and publications to keep your contact information up to date and account information accurate. This can all be done by managing your user profile in ACCESS. Initially, your profile information will include the information you supplied when creating your account.

To view and manage your profile, please visit the ACCESS User Profile page for details.

Your profile information includes basic information such as email address, organization, mailing address, and more. You can also manage your user news subscriptions, view your public profile and manage publications by linking your ACCESS credentials with your ORCHID ID.

Get an Allocation

Learn about requesting an allocation
View sample allocation requests

Compute time on ACCESS resources is granted via the allocations process. You may apply for a new allocation or get added to an existing allocation. Please consult the detailed information in the Allocations section.

Allocation types

A user may apply for one of the following allocation types:

  • Explore ACCESS: Explore ACCESS allocations are intended for purposes that require small resource amounts. Researchers can try out resources or run benchmarks; instructors can provide access for small-scale classroom activities, research software engineers can develop or port codes; and so on. Graduate students can conduct thesis or dissertation work.

    These allocations can be requested at any time. They are available for the duration of your supporting grant or for 12 months without a grant (with possible extensions up to five years). Multiple requests are allowed if you have more than one supporting grant or need to keep your classroom or other non-research activity separate from your research efforts.

  • Discover ACCESS: Discover ACCESS projects are intended to fill the needs of many small-scale research activities or other resource needs. The goal of this opportunity is to allow many researchers, Campus Champions, and Gateways to request allocations with a minimum amount of effort so they can complete their work.

    These allocations can be requested at any time. They are available for the duration of your supporting grant or for 12 months without a grant (with possible extensions up to five years). Multiple requests are allowed if you have more than one supporting grant or need to keep your classroom or other non-research activity separate from your research efforts.

    To submit a request, you will need to provide a one-page description of the project that addresses how you plan to use ACCESS resources. You can also ask for an advisory review from the community to guide you to appropriate resources.

  • Accelerate ACCESS: Accelerate ACCESS allocations support activities that require more substantial, mid-scale resource amounts to pursue their research objectives. These include activities such as consolidating multi-grant programs, collaborative projects, preparing for Maximize ACCESS requests, and supporting gateways with growing communities.

    These allocations can be requested at any time. They are available for the duration of your supporting grant or for 12 months without a grant (with possible extensions up to five years). Multiple requests are allowed if you have more than one supporting grant or need to keep your classroom or other non-research activity separate from your research efforts.

    Researchers are expected to have reasonably well defined plans for their resource use and to submit a three-page project description for merit review. Reviewers will look more closely at how your resource usage plan addresses the review criteria.

  • Maximize ACCESS: For projects with resource needs beyond those provided by an Accelerate ACCESS project, a Maximize ACCESS request is required. ACCESS does not place an upper limit on the size of allocations that can be requested or awarded at this level, but resource providers may have limits on allocation amounts for specific resources. The review process is similar to the XSEDE process for large allocations.

In addition to requesting a new allocation, a Principal Investigator (PI) may add users to an existing allocation through the allocation portal.

How to Write an ACCESS Proposal

ACCESS offers an array of computing resources, including both HPC and high throughput (data-intensive) machines. We also provide visualization resources, and ACCESS has the expertise to help you set up tiled clusters. Please peruse the resource user guides to obtain specific system information. If you already have an allocation, then look here on how to start using ACCESS.

Some documentation and preliminary questions to help determine which resource is for you:

How does your software/code function? Serial or parallel? How well does it scale? Are there specific hardware, OS, or memory architecture requirements?

Read the ACCESS user guides - learn more about our ACCESS resources

View the ACCESS Software Search - What software do you need? Check to see if it's already installed on an ACCESS system using our Software Search

What are your typical job characteristics? Running time? Total number of jobs? Disk space required for I/O?

We realize selecting the optimum resource can be daunting. We are here to help! Submit a ticket to the ACCESS help desk to ask for help selecting which resource(s) to use for best performance.

Login to your Allocated Resources

Once an allocation has been granted, user accounts are usually created within 24 hours on the allocated resource. Users may login to their accounts directly via SSH. This will require a resource-specific password. Details are provided here. You can also submit a Help Desk Ticket requesting a local password for the specific resource provider. Linux and Unix users may use the built-in Unix ssh command. Windows users may download one of many SSH clients; free ones include "PuTTY.”

Once you have your resource-specific password, ssh directly to a resource like so:

mylaptop$ ssh -l username machinename


mylaptop$ ssh username@machinename


mylaptop$ ssh -l vgccsuky

Data Management & Analysis

Learn to transfer your files using ACCESS Data Management services.

Access ACCESS's Data Analysis resources.

Transferring Your Files

Once your accounts are set up, you'll probably want to start transferring your project files to your allocated resource. ACCESS offers several easy, reliable file transfer mechanisms, briefly detailed below. For more in-depth information please consult the ACCESS Data Transfers & Management page.



Bitvise SSH Client, Cyberduck, Filezilla, or scp, sftp (command line)

Computing Environment

A computing environment refers to the components of a compute resource such as the operating system, basic hardware infrastructure, and software characteristics.

File Systems

Learn about ACCESS File Systems & Storage options

Where your data resides on ACCESS and the appropriate storage is your responsibility. In general, all resources provide the following file systems:

  1. HOME: Permanent space, but small. A good choice for building software and working file collections of small to medium-sized files, where a medium-sized file is less than 50 MB.

  2. SCRATCH: More space, but temporary; use while you are running your jobs. Scratch space is temporary; it is not backed up and has limited redundancy, and is periodically purged of old files!

  3. Archival Storage: Long-term storage of large amounts of data (often tape); slower access, accessible from all sites.

For more detailed information on file systems and storage, please consult the user guide and the ACCESS Storage page.


The environment management package, Modules, is a command-line interface providing commands for setting and modifying shell environment variables. These environment variables define values used by the shell (e.g., bash, tcsh,…) and by programs that you execute on the shell command line. For example, the PATH environment variable commonly defines a list of directories that the shell should search to find an executable program that you have referred to on the command line - this allows you to execute that program without having to type out the entire directory path to the executable file for that program. Modules make it easier for you to manage collections of environment variables associated with various software packages and automatically modify environment variables when switching between software packages.

Simple Modules Commands

  • module avail - lists available modules

  • module list - lists currently loaded modules

  • module help foo - help on module foo

  • module whatis foo - brief description of module foo

  • module display foo - displays the changes that are made to the environment by loading module foo without actually loading it.

  • module load foo - load module foo

  • module unload foo - unloads module foo and removes all changes that it made in the environment

Running jobs

View ACCESS User Guides for job submission capabilities on ACCESS resources

All ACCESS resources employ a job scheduler (sometimes called "batch" scheduler), software that monitors and runs programs in the background, ideally achieving optimum utilization of that resource, including processors, memory, and disk space. All schedulers basically work the same way:

  1. specify the number/type of nodes you need

  2. specify how long you need to run

  3. specify where your output files go

  4. submit the job script containing these specifications

Check each resource's user guide for exact information required such as production queues, node types, modules, and job launch mechanisms. A typical job script will look similar to the following:

For the most part, ACCESS systems use the Simple Linux Utility for Resource Management (Slurm) job scheduler. Each resource will have one or more queues, each with a pool of jobs waiting to run. A user submits jobs to a queue via job scheduler commands. Some common Slurm commands are listed below.

  • sbatch myjobscript - submit the file ‘myjobscript' to start a job

  • squeue -u username - display the status of all your jobs

  • scancel jobid - delete the job from the queue using the jobid

Sample Job Script

Get Help

We realize this is a lot to take in, so ACCESS has many help options. You might begin by searching for your ACCESS Campus Champion. Your local champion can direct you to the staff or resources you need. This robust community of research computing professionals is spread out over 350 member institutions.

Still not sure if ACCESS is suitable for you? The ACCESS Help Desk staff will answer your question or put you in touch with the experts who can. ACCESS has numerous ways to search for information and get help on various topics. Our staff can help with problems such as choosing a platform or resource, choosing a software package, improving file transfer performance, and helping with visualization. Submit a ticket through the ACCESS portal.

Additional help resources:

User News - keep up to date with what is happening with ACCESS and the services you use. ACCESS staff regularly sends announcements, machine status notices, notifications of upcoming training classes, and more. Please see here for infrastructure announcements.

Ask questions and interact with other users on the user forums available within the ACCESS User portal.

Extended Support

Learn more about MATCH PLUS

Learn more about MATCH PREMIER