Welcome SMPH Researchers!

We are very pleased to welcome our new members from the School of Medicine and Public Health, including the American Family Insurance Data Science Institute COVID-19 Research Group.

SSCC News is the SSCC's (roughly) bimonthly newsletter. You can opt out of receiving it by emailing the Help Desk, but it's our primary way of getting vital information to you.

If you have collaborators who need SSCC accounts, send them to our account request page or fill it out on their behalf. Account requests (other than faculty) need an account sponsor, which can be any faculty member in SMPH. Faculty need to have their own SSCC account before they can approve account requests for others.

We know you're eager to get your data into Silo. We're working with the most popular data sources to work out automated ways of doing that, but for now contact the Help Desk and we'll work with you to make it happen.

New Silo Servers Available

The new Linux servers for the Silo environment are now in production and ready for use. These servers were funded by SMPH, for which we are grateful. All Silo users are welcome to use them, though SMPH researchers have priority. The new Linux servers are:

  • LinSilo: three interactive Linux servers with 44 cores and 384GB of memory
  • LinSiloBig: two interactive Linux servers with 80 cores and 768GB of memory
  • CondorSilo: an HTCondor pool of nine Linux servers with 44 cores and 384GB of memory

Instructions for using the new servers have been added to Using Silo.

Now that Silo has a variety of servers available, we are renaming the Windows server cluster in the Silo environment WinSilo.

We encourage you to move large or long-running Silo jobs to the new Linux servers, where they'll run faster, have less impact on others, and best of all you can start them in batch mode and then sign out. Also, please remember to sign out of WinSilo (and Winstat) when you're not using it. This makes licenses available to others, ensures your new session is on the least busy server when you sign back in, and avoids the problems that come with long sessions.

Update on SSCC Operations and COVID-19

We're fortunate that SSCC staff can continue to provide all our normal services (and expand Silo) while working safely from home. Even when campus reopens we anticipate being very cautious about returning to normal: there will likely be a stage where some SSCC staff are on campus but limit in-person interactions. But we are happy to help you by email, phone, and video chat.

Be sure to send all requests and questions to the Help Desk, not individual staff members. That way someone will see them even if the staff member you had in mind is unavailable, on vacation, or ill. While this is always true, it's especially important right now.

Drop-in statistical consulting has been replaced by more hours for appointments via video chat and the ability to make them with less lead time. Visit our statistical consulting page to set up appointments.

Summer Training

SSCC's summer training will be offered via distance learning, though it has not been scheduled yet. Watch our training page for updates. Right now we're committed to offering Data Wrangling in R, Introduction to Stata, and Data Wrangling in Stata this summer. We're now where many of you were over Spring Break: figuring out the logistics of distance learning and wondering how much time it will take to prepare these classes. If we can offer more, we will. If you have requests (the spring schedule will give you a sense of what we could do) send them to Caitlin Tefft (

We hope that when late August comes we'll be able to offer our traditional training for incoming graduate students (and others) in person. But we'll offer it one way or another.

Account Renewal Exercise Delayed Until Fall

SSCC's annual account renewal exercise is our primary way of finding out when people have graduated, left UW-Madison, or otherwise no longer need their SSCC account. But we always have a fair number of "false positives" where people don't renew their account even though they still need it, and then their account gets closed briefly until the situation is cleared up.

Right now we don't want to do anything that would prevent you from working safely from home, so we are delaying this year's account renewal exercise until the fall. That also means graduate students who graduate this May (congratulations!) will be able to keep using their SSCC accounts through the summer, and we hope that makes staying safe at home easier for you too.

(Since we know this will prompt some of you to ask: if you'll be collaborating on a UW-Madison project after graduation and want to keep your SSCC account, speak with the department or research agency you'll be working with. They decide which accounts they'll continue sponsoring, not SSCC staff.)

Use ResearchDrive for Some Things

In January's SSCC News we suggested you hold off on using ResearchDrive, DoIT's new data storage service, until some issues were resolved. Some of those issues are still outstanding, in particular there's still no good way of accesssing ResearchDrive from Linstat, but there are some situations where ResearchDrive could be a good solution. One is collaborating with other UW-Madison people who don't have SSCC accounts, since ResearchDrive can be shared with anyone at UW-Madison. Another is long-term storage of files that are not in active use. We have more information in Using ResearchDrive.