[surf, rd, rclone, large files, webdav, store, storage]

What is Research Drive?

Research Drive is a data storage service by SURF. It’s useful to store files that are too big for GitHub (even with LFS), files that need to be shared across multiple projects, archives from pre-GitHub projects, and other kinds of files that don’t have a natural home in repositories (e.g., raw data). Think of it as a sort of Dropbox.


SURF services are only available for researchers affiliated with Dutch institutions.

Obtain an Account

If you are an employee at Tilburg University, you can request access to Research Drive by contacting the Research Data Office. Ask then a member of your team to give you access to the appropriate directories you will need for your project(s).

Access your Files

Via Web

The easiest way to access Research Drive is via the browser.

  1. Visit researchdrive.surfsara.nl/index.php/login or the institutional instance of your institution. For Tilburg University, that is via the following link: tilburguniversity.data.surfsara.nl/index.php/login.

  2. Login via SURFconext if you have an university account, or use the credentials given to you if you are an external guest.

  3. You can now access your folders and files in your Research Drive. You can also upload and download files directly from your browser, like how you would do on Google Drive or Dropbox.

With rclone

Rclone is an open-source command line program to manage files on cloud storage. You can use it to selectively access, download, upload, move and delete data on Research Drive. This will save you disk space - you won’t need to download the entire project directory on your local disk, but only the files that you need.

The key advantage of using rclone is that you can work with files programmatically, from the command line or your code directly.

  1. First, you will need to install rclone. Download from rclone.org, or run the following command on your personal machine:

    brew install rclone

    On computing services and research clusters, make sure that module load rclone is in your ./bash_profile.

  2. Run the following command to configure rclone:

    rclone config

You will be now guided through the configuration. Read this comprehensive guide on how to configure it properly.

  1. Have fun!

Use rclone

Some useful commands

List all files in directory

rclone ls RD:

Copy source directory to destination directory

rclone copy /my/folder RD:my/destination/folder

You can find these and many more command examples on this comprehensive guide on using rclone with Research Drive.

Use rclone in your code

In order to use rclone directly in your code, you will need a wrapper like python-rclone for Python. You can install it with:

pip install python-rclone

You can find instructions on how to use it here.

Share your Files

You may want to share your files with other colleagues. You can do so by either sharing them with other Research Drive users or via a public link. Follow this guide to learn how to do it.


Tilburg University disabled sharing with public links for safety reasons.