NIH Blueprint: The Human Connectome Project

Connectome In A Box

Order Connectome in a Box

The Human Connectome Project is gathering data on healthy adult brains at a scale and level of quality never before attempted. For example, we are scanning using accelerated multi-band fMRI techniques that can capture up to 1,200 frames in a single resting-state session.

The resulting dataset is, to put it mildly, enormous. Our currently released data is close to twenty terabytes for 500+ subjects; we are prepared to release data for up to 1,200 subjects before the project is complete. We are committed to data sharing throughout the life of the project, which presents a number of challenges: How can this much data be moved across the world to anyone who wants it? Where will researchers store the data once they have it?

Connectome In A Box is our expedient solution for those that want large portions of the data: a series of hard drives prepopulated with open access image data made available by the HCP.  These hard drives can be ordered through the HCP and shipped anywhere in the world.

What's New in the 500 Subjects Release?

There have been several updates of note in June 2014 for current users of Connectome In A Box. Here are the highlights:

  • All MR data from Q1-Q3 releases have been reprocessed. Updates to pipelines include a new intersubject registration method called MSMSulc. HCP strongly advises against mixing data from this release with previously-released data.

  • Available packages of data have been simplified. Our most complete dataset of MR data for 500 subjects spans five 4-TB hard drives. Users who want all of our latest data can order a complete five-drive package. New users, or users who have limited processing resources, can order a single-drive HCP Starter Kit consisting of data from ~100 unrelated subjects.
  • The HCP Drive Recycling Program has been discontinued. For more details, see here.
  • New guidance on compliance with your IRB. All Connectome data administrators should read this notice on data usage and compliance with your institutions restrictions on human subject research.

MEG Data in a Box: Coming Soon

With the initial MEG data release currently at a manageable size to acquire via download, we are not currently offering that dataset on a dedicated hard drive. However, as that dataset continues to grow, our packaged Connectome in a Box offerings will grow to accommodate it.

Before you begin to use HCP Data, please review the set of available HCP Data Use Terms, and follow the steps to accept the terms that apply to your research.

What is Connectome in a Box?

It's free, right?

Unfortunately, no. Researchers are required to pay for the drive as well as shipping and processing costs.  The HCP makes no profit from the sales of Connectome data.  We have worked to minimize the cost to the research community and will adjust pricing as market rates drop for high capacity drives.  Currently, the total cost to investigators for each drive of data is approximately $200, including shipping costs. (Non-US customers can expect to pay more.)

What if I want to "try before I buy"?

We highly recommend interested HCP data users visit ConnectomeDB and download packages of data from one of our pre-selected subject groups.

What formats does Connectome in a Box come in? Can I get it formatted for Mac? Linux?

As of July 2013, we are only shipping drives formatted for Linux (EXT3). Mac and Windows users may be able to use workarounds, but these are not guaranteed to work on all versions of these operating systems. Please see this updated note on drive formats for more information.

When can I expect shipment?

All standard orders will ship within 30 days of their initial order.

This is an internal hard drive? What if I have a laptop?

We anticipate two kinds of users ordering these drives. One will be able to take the drive out of the box and give it to their IT person, who will transfer the data onto their network storage unit and make it broadly available to the investigators at their center.

The other will want to plug it right into whatever computer they use and get at the data directly. For this second class of users, we highly recommend purchasing the HCP Starter Kit, which is a single-drive dataset. An enclosure can be ordered along with Connectome in a Box (again, at cost – and we’ll even load the drive into the enclosure for you!). While there are many alternative options available, many do not work well with high capacity drives so choose carefully.

What happens when future data releases come out?

Each time a new dataset is released, interested users will be able to order the data on a new drive. Drive prices may change from release to release, based on our cost from suppliers.

What happens if a data set I already have is updated?

There are two classes of updates. In July 2013, we completely reprocessed all data, which made data on the original Q1 drives incompatible with newer data. In that instance, we strongly recommended replacing data with new drives. In two instances since then, we have released simple data patches users can apply to their current data to fix issues and replace missing files.

Please note: the data released in the 500 Subjects Release has been newly reprocessed, and should not be mixed with data from previous releases.

How do I verify that the data on my drive is complete?

We strongly recommend verifying your data integrity using MD5 checksums that are included with each subject.

Every package file, on the Connectome in a Box drive or in a downloaded set of subject data, contains a series of checksum strings in a series of JSON files. These files are located in a hidden directory named ".xdlm" within each subject folder. (Example: 100307/.xdlm) Each checksum can be checked with md5sum to verify that the contents are the same in your version of the files as they were when they were created.

Can I "recycle" hard drives with old data on them?

We have canceled the HCP drive recycling program, as of the 500 Subjects Release. This decision was the result of a cost-benefit analysis that factored in the upsurge of drives that we need to manage for each shipment, the impact of maintaining such a program on our internal resources, and the relatively low usage of the program over the past 15 months.

What if I get a bad hard drive? Can I return it?

Prior to shipping, the accuracy and completeness of the data on each drive is digitally verified.  However, it’s possible that a drive may become defective after shipping.  If your drive stops working within 30 days of receipt, you may ship it back for a replacement at no additional cost.  Please contact for more information.

How does the HCP create the drives?

The HCP informatics team has assembled a high throughput drive duplicator, referred to by its builders as the “duplicatinator.”  It includes 15 hot swappable drive bays and a single mount for a master drive. Each bay is hooked into the replication hardware with a 6 GB/s SAS channel. To increase efficiency, we are now using RSync to duplicate drives. Once the copies are completed, we use a checksum to verify data integrity.

How do I order?

Go to to get started.