Answers to a range of frequently asked questions are provided below. Please contact the SURE team with additional queries.


SURE is a remote-access computing environment that allows researchers to access and analyse data for approved studies and analyses. A secure project workspace is set up for each study and data is stored centrally on servers housed in a high-security data centre rather than a user’s local computing environment.

SURE is unique in providing highly secure storage and analytical software in a single location that all users with the necessary credentials can access.

Visit Using SURE for more information.

No, they cannot. SURE’s unique “curated gateway” prevents transfer of files into and out of the secure storage space by anyone other than an authorised curator. The curator is either a person nominated by the data custodian or a senior investigator bound to protect the data, depending on the data custodian’s requirements and ethics approval.

No, separate, partitioned workspaces are set up for the analysis of data that has been approved for each study hosted in SURE. The security of each workspace ensures that data from different studies are not able to be combined, even if a user is an investigator on multiple studies using SURE.

Some users may access SURE for multiple studies, so a project-specific workspace and virtual desktop is established for each project. The project workspaces are logically separated so that data cannot be shared or combined in any way.

SURE users must ensure all necessary approvals from ethics committees and data custodians have been received for their studies. Users applying to access the SURE project workspace established for a study must be a named investigator on the study application. All SURE users must also complete mandatory training prior to accessing the facility. The SURE researcher training program covers responsibilities of a user, information security and statistical disclosure control.

SURE has the technical capacity to allow researchers based overseas to use SURE, as long as they have obtained specific ethics and data custodian approval to access the data overseas.  Permissions can be tailored based on the study requirements.



Microsoft Office 2010: Including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, OneNote, Publisher

Notepad++: Programming text editor

OpenBUGS: OpenBUGS is the open-source replacement for WinBUGS.

R: Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of R, plus the RStudio GUI interface for R is available in SURE. Additionally, the entire CRAN (R add-ons) library is mirrored inside SURE, so users can select and install their own libraries from the mirrored CRAN repository.

Various utilities: Including Adobe Acrobat Reader X, CutePDF



MLwiN: Multi-level modelling package from the Centre for Multilevel Modelling at Bristol University

SAS v9.4: 64-bit version, with Base SAS, SAS/STAT, SAS/GRAPH and Enterprise Guide

SPSS v23.0

Stat/Transfer v13: Allows for easy data transfer between popular statistical software packages.

Stata 14.1/MP: 64-bit multiprocessor versions, able to use 2 CPU cores and all available RAM. Users will be able to self-install Stata add-ons from the STB and Stata Journal archives in the first instance, others on request.

The SURE team will accept requests for other software to be installed. We will need to consider a range of factors including costs and licensing before the software is tested and installed in your SURE workspace.

There is no maximum size. Standard workspaces are allocated up to one terabyte of storage space but larger, customised workspaces can be easily developed for studies analysing very large data sets.

The registration process for SURE is straightforward as researchers generally have already received human research ethics and data custodian approvals. Once agreements are signed and payment made, the workspace is generally set up within two weeks.

It is not possible to print within SURE. Research output can be taken out of the facility via the curated gateway and once approved, the output can be downloaded to your local computer and printed

Information and reference materials that are necessary for researchers to conduct their analysis in SURE can be transferred via the curated gateway. The specific type of information that is permitted and how it will be reviewed for your study will depend on the approvals received for your study from data custodians and human research ethics committees, including any specific restrictions or compliance requirements.