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Accessing Sensitive Data (SD) services

CSC's Sensitive Data (SD) services are available to researchers and students affiliated with Finnish higher education institutions (universities, universities of applied sciences) or research institutes and their international collaborators. In this section, discover how to access SD services for processing sensitive research data. Learn to manage billing unit consumption and what happens to your data upon project closure.


Processing sensitive research data

Access to the services is managed directly by the CSC project manager (e.g. research project's principal investigator, group leader, or postdoc) using the MyCSC portal, and it is based on a CSC project. The CSC project manager can add members with equal access permissions to the same project. They can upload encrypted data to SD Connect and analyze it using the SD Desktop services. However, only the project manager can export non-sensitive results from the secure computing environment.

To access SD Connect and SD Desktop for storing, sharing or analyzing sensitive research data:

  1. Create a CSC account by logging in at the MyCSC portal.

  2. Create or join a CSC project and add project members.

  3. Fill in the Description of processing activities form and accept CSC's Data Processing Agreement.

  4. All project members should add service access to Allas (to use SD Connect) and SD Desktop, accepting the terms of use.

  5. All project members should activate their account's additional security verification (or Multi-factor Authentication) by scanning the QR code with a mobile application (e.g. Google Authenticator).

  6. Apply for billing units or disk quota.


For video tutorials and further guidance, check the Accounts section at the beginning of this manual.

Default storage space and billing units consumption

Using SD Connect and SD Desktop is free of charge for research purposes, according to CSC's general terms of use. However, it's important to plan ahead for your CSC project's resource usage. This includes considering the billing units (BUs) used during service and the storage space, called quota, for your data. Typically, when you start a new project with CSC, you receive around 10,000 billing units. Below, there's a calculator that helps you determine how many billing units your CSC project will require, so you can request more if needed. For further information on this step, see the specific sections applying for billing units and increasing quotas.

SD Connect billing and quota

When you apply for a new CSC project, the default quota (storage space) for SD Connect/Allas is 10 TB, which can be expanded up to 200 TB as needed. If you require additional storage capacity, please reach out for support at CSC Service Desk (subject: Sensitive data).

Storing data in SD Connect/Allas consumes billing units at a rate of 1 billing unit per TB per hour. This means that storing 1 TB of data in Allas consumes 24 billing units daily and 8760 billing units annually.

SD Desktop billing and quota

By default, the disk space in SD Desktop is 80 GB, and you have the option to increase it to 280 GB by adding an external volume during the creation of a virtual desktop. If you need more storage for data analysis, reach out for support at CSC Service Desk (subject: Sensitive data).

Analyzing data in SD Desktop consumes billing units based on the type of virtual desktop used. The rates are as follows:

  • Small computation: 5.2 billing units per hour;
  • Medium computation: 10.4 billing units per hour;
  • Heavy computation: 52 billing units per hour.

Service usage restrictions when billing units have been consumed

Once all the billing units for your CSC project have been used up, your access to the SD Desktop service will be restricted. This means that all virtual desktops currently running will automatically be paused, and you won't be able to access their content. It's important to note that your data remains unaffected and will not be deleted, even in cases where the total billing units reach zero or enter negative values.

  • Notification: You'll be notified via email when your billing units have been consumed.

  • Regaining access to your virtual desktop: To regain access to your virtual desktop, just follow these easy steps:

  • Apply for more billing units by visiting the MyCSC portal. This will give you a positive balance to continue using the service.

  • Log in to SD Desktop and unpause your virtual desktop. On the SD Desktop homepage, click on Go To SD Desktop Management; Here, under Available desktops select the correct virtual desktop, and in the same raw, on the right side, click on Resume.


Restarting a paused desktop is only possible for active CSC projects with available billing units.

What happens to your data when your CSC project expires or is closed

When your CSC project reaches its expiration date or is closed, there are a few important things to know about your data:

  • Service Discontinuation: both SD Connect and SD Desktop services will be disabled, and you won't be able to access them anymore.

  • Data Deletion: Any data stored within these services, including files, virtual desktops, and volumes, will be permanently removed after 90 days from the project's closure. This measure is in place to ensure the secure handling of your data, aligning with CSC's policies.

  • Notification: We'll keep you informed about the status of your project. You'll receive an email notification when your project is about to expire, so you can plan accordingly. For example, you can apply for a project lifetime extension of one year loggin in to MyCSC portal.


Please note that all content within the services will be permanently deleted 90 days after the project is closed, and once deleted, it cannot be restored or recovered.

Billing unit calculator

Last update: November 6, 2023