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 more than six terabytes for 252 subjects; we are prepared to release data for up to 1,200 subjects before the project is complete. But 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 the quarterly open access data releases made available by the HCP.  These hard drives can be ordered through the HCP and shipped anywhere in the world.

What's New in Q3?

There have been several updates of note in Q3 for current users of Connectome In A Box. Here are the highlights:

  • Diffusion (dMRI) data is being reprocessed and re-released. The release of updated Connectome in a Box drives will include all updated diffusion sessions, yielding sharper images.

  • We have adopted Linux as the default drive format. In Q1, we supported orders for Windows, Mac and Linux-formatted hard drives equally. However, each new release adds arithmetically to the burden on our fulfillment process. Linux-formatted drives are the most easily incorporated into network storage, but they can also be mounted by Mac and PC users as well.
  • 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.

Refresh Your Data, Recycle Your Drive

For users who have already purchased Connectome In A Box, we have provided a solution that allows you to "refresh" your data for only the cost of shipping the drive. Start the process by ordering new data, and selecting the option to enroll in the Drive Recycling Rebate program.


Alternately, you can submit a separate order to return your drive for a rebate: Drive Recycling Instructions and Order Form

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 quarterly release is approximately $200.

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 Q2, we are only shipping drives formatted for Linux (EXT3). However, there are workarounds available for Mac and Windows users. Please see this updated note on drive formats for more information.

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 (see our best practice guidance) 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 a USB hard drive enclosure. 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 quarterly releases come out?

Each time a new dataset is released, interested users will be required to order the data on a new drive. For those interested in recycling drives from previous data releases, please consult our drive recycling program guide.

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

We expect that updates will typically be handled via download, as they’ll affect only a portion of the data.  However, in the case of large updates, a new drive may need to be ordered. Please consult our drive recycling program guide if you would simply like to exchange your current drive for one with a refreshed dataset.

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.

Please note: we batch-process orders for efficiency, and the fulfillment process may take up to ten business days from the time of your order.

How do I order?

Go to to get started.