Administratively managed accounts and terms of usage at public Galaxy servers

What is going on?! I had 75% of my space quota full just yesterday and now, when I returned today everything is GONE! The history has been purged. Clean. Zero. I had not received emails, no warnings… I have just only one account with Galaxy. Admins, what is going on?

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First question: are you still logged in to Galaxy?

Yes, I logged off and and logged back in to no avail. I can see history logs, but there is no actual data in files as they are no longer physically present. The note on top says the history has been purged.
I am shocked to learn how unprotected Galaxy users and their data can be. Anyone else affected recently?

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@Anton_Bryantsev

You had this account restored back in January 2021 after it was administratively suspended then purged as a duplicate account in October 2020.

Once enabled again, you created more work in a history that was technically purged and already had the old datasets in it purged. Old or new data in a purged history will continue to be screened for and removed every 14 days.

There is a technical corner-case problem on our side but it will only present when an account has been administratively managed. Specifically, one of your histories was not labeled as purged in the GUI until this last cycle of administrative cleanup. The other histories were labeled as purged and couldn’t be worked in, and now this one is, too.

Until we correct that, anyone with an enabled administratively managed account should not create new work in any history that has a creation date earlier than the date the account was re-enabled. Or better, simply avoid using multiple accounts to start with. Terms of use are one account per person at each distinct public Galaxy server, including UseGalaxy.org.

Getting an account at Galaxy Main (http://usegalaxy.org)

We are sorry that you lost your new work in that single history with the wrong state assigned when the account was re-enabled. But the good news is that there was not much new work, and there is one new history you created/worked in after the account was re-enabled and it was not impacted. In our email communications in January 2021, you asked for the account to be enabled with or without prior data. I re-explained the terms of usage and how you can proactively resolve multiple accounts yourself before those are administratively managed for breaking the terms of service. The processes that detect and remove multiple accounts that are in use by the same person do not always capture all of the multiple accounts an individual may have. But everyone can fix this if the terms were unclear: consolidate data into one account and delete any extras under User > Preferences. Follow the terms of service and there are never problems.

Thanks for helping to keep UseGalaxy.org a free and fair public resource for researchers worldwide.

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I understand this push to make users have a single account and I fully support it. However, in this pursuit admins must be reasonable and issue users a prior warning. It is impudent to delete work of your colleagues so abruptly and irreversibly, don’t you agree? And I object this dismissive tone about losing “not much work” as it took me the whole weekend to find and upload the missing data that had already been archived from my machine, while my grad student is worrying his head off about this setback just two months before thesis defense.

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@Anton_Bryantsev

First and most importantly, I sincerely apologize that my tone came across as dismissive in the reply. Not intended, and we don’t want anyone to lose their work.

Second, we’ve tried our best to warn about the problems that can arise when multiple accounts are used. The warnings are in two places for each account created, in “human understandable” phrasing stating that creating/having/using multiple accounts invokes significant risks (not just a link to the formal Terms & Conditions document). Specifically, the warning is on the account creation form and in the account activation emails directly where the activation link is located. Those are the warnings/notifications we supply.

Third, accounts are only suspended at the first stage of administrative intervention. The majority of people who actually misunderstood the terms contact us and problems are resolved. If no action is taken, the accounts are removed. We really do and need to reuse the disc space.

Your lab/collaborators happened to included several individuals who were very clearly and knowingly exploiting the public shared resource, some with 10+ accounts. That type of behavior is not an isolated case and impacts everyone else who uses the public/free service following the terms of usage.

In short, we must enforce terms – 1) for practical reasons on our side (public servers have significant but not infinite resources: both storage and computational) and 2) for fairness reasons to better ensure equal resource access for all working at the free service, including you and your student. If we didn’t manage accounts breaching the terms of service, the public servers would very quickly become unusable due to unfair competition.

The best strategy is to have and use just one account. Keep passwords private. Backup important data/work (we unable to retain copies of data due to the volume). Use sharing functions for collaborative work – shared objects can be fully reviewed in detail, and imported to your account if wanted/needed, then shared back. These functions take seconds to use. Many public Galaxy servers offer short-term extra quota (data storage) allocation for academic research projects. Share data, not accounts, and there are no problems.

Should anyone need to use Galaxy differently, the public servers are not a recommended choice. There are many other deployment choices, including free alternatives and those supported by simple web-based grant applications. Some of the alternative deployment choices require no administration at all, some have simple administrative functions that are GUI-based, and some have fully customizable administrative functionality (web-based + technical). Our community offers support/help for all, also for free, plus fee-based administrative support from several service providers.

We want you, and everyone, to be able to use Galaxy successfully, whether that is at a public/free Galaxy website service, one of the special free services that support training/teaching (such as TIaaS), or your own deployment choice.

Even if one decides to use an alternative deployment for larger/routine work or special projects, having an account on a public Galaxy server (or servers, one account at each) is still available. It is a useful way to publish publicly accessible artifacts (to include in publications, share with collaborators who you choose to not grant access to your own deployment in order to manage costs, etc).

Your grad student could decide to use the GVL choice. It sounds like they would qualify for an AWS grant – these are very short web-based applications with (usually) fast approval. This would provide more data storage space and no competition for computational resources. Meaning, the analysis processing would go much faster to make up for the lost time. It is very common for people to create a short-term personal cloud deployment. Use it for processing, then get rid of it once done to manage costs. If customized (more tools added or data indexes created – all through the GUI), a copy of the configuration can be saved and reused later on. Data storage buckets can also be preserved. Those two latter choices will incur ongoing costs but less than an active deployment and grant funding could be applied.

Hopefully that helps!

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So, I guess the practice of emailing users about their accounts being purged is not coming any time soon. Instead, I am publicly accused of running 10 accounts! For the record, ive had a single Galaxy account for more than 6 years util it was suddenly purged. …And purged again recently, after I had restored it. In both cases without any warning.

Greetings,

I am not sure how to get help, but after some days of successfully using Galaxy, we are now running into errors. When I am logged in under tabrams@umaryland.edu, and I try to upload a file, I get an error that the account is not activated. I thought I had activated it. When we ran blastx, we also got errors - this may be before we set up an account. I suspect now that the account may not be set up correctly, but I can’t tell. I am happy to delete the account and begin again, but I can’t figure out how.