How can it be free? How will OSF be useful to my research? What is a registration? Get your questions about OSF answered here.

About OSF

How can it be free? How are you funded?

OSF is maintained and developed by the Center for Open Science (COS), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. COS is supported through grants from a variety of supporters, including federal agencies, private foundations, and commercial entities. Read more about our finances.

What if you run out of funding? What happens to my data?

COS established a $250,000 preservation fund for hosted data in the event that COS had to curtail or close its offices. If activated, the preservation fund will preserve and maintain read access to hosted data. This fund is sufficient for 50+ years of read access hosting at present costs. COS will incorporate growth of the preservation fund as part of its funding model as data storage scales. For information about OSF backups and technical preservation details, see the OSF Backup and Preservation Policy.

How will OSF be useful to my research?

OSF integrates with the scientist's daily workflow. OSF helps document and archive study designs, materials, and data. OSF facilitates sharing of materials and data within a laboratory or across laboratories. OSF also facilitates transparency of laboratory research and provides a network design that details and credits individual contributions for all aspects of the research process. To see how it works, read our Guides.

How can I get started on using OSF?

Anyone can create an OSF account for free at osf.io. Check out our Guides for a thorough run-down of how OSF works. These FAQs will only cover a few of the most basic questions about OSF, so it’s highly recommended that you read through our OSF guides.

What accessibility standards does OSF adhere to?

COS maintains the OSF and associated support resources as a free service to maximize access and opportunity for research producers and consumers of any means and experience. We aim to achieve WCAG AA compliance for accessibility and to support language translations. COS is committed to responding to community needs and will continue to make resources available in new languages and with additional accessibility evaluation.

Find more information in the Center for Open Science Accessibility Conformance Report.

User support and feedback

How can I help develop OSF?

If you are a developer, check out the open source code for OSF on GitHub or read our API docsFor more information, send an email to contact@osf.io.

What is coming to OSF?

For updates on new features, you can join our Google Group, find us on Twitter and on Facebook, or follow the COS GitHub page. 

Where can I check if OSF experiences downtime?

If you experience problems using OSF or connecting to one of the third-party storage add-ons, you can check our status page for updates on how our services are operating.

Security and privacy

What steps has OSF taken to comply with GDPR?

OSF has taken several steps to comply with GDPR, including revising our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, ensuring GDPR compliance of third-party vendors and executing Data Processing Addendums with each, and reviewing policies and procedures for deleting user data. Read our blog post for more detail.

What types of data does OSF collect?

OSF may collect various data that you share upon registering and in using OSF and its suite of products. Please see section 7 of our Privacy Policy for this information.

Can I have my data deleted?

You’re always welcome to deactivate or delete your account. If you’d like to delete your account and personal data, please email support@osf.io.

Can I opt out of having my data collected?

You’re always welcome to deactivate or delete your account. You should be aware that information that you've shared with others or that others have copied may also remain visible after you have closed your account or deleted the information from your own profile. In addition, you may not be able to access, correct, or eliminate any information about you that other users have copied or exported out of the Websites, because this information may not be in our organization's control. Your public profile may be displayed in search engine results.

How can I export my data?

You can export your project files in .zip format, one for each storage provider. You can also access all the content of your projects via the OSF's open API; documentation is available at developer.osf.io

How secure is my information?

Security is extremely important for OSF. When you sign up and create a password, your password is not recorded. Instead, we store a bcrypt hash of your password. This is a computation on your password that cannot be reversed but is the same every time it is computed from your password. This provides extra security. No one but you can know your password. When you click "Forgot your password," OSF sends you a new random password because it neither stores nor has the ability to compute your password.

Is data stored on OSF Storage encrypted? What are my options?

Transfer of data to OSF Storage is encrypted with SSL (external storage add-ons may have their own policies). Data at rest is encrypted on OSF Storage. You can also use the Amazon S3 add-on and implement server-side encryption on S3.

How do I report a potential security issue?

If you would like to report a security issue, please email support@osf.io for instructions on how to report the security issue. Do not include details of the issue in that email.

How does OSF store and backup files that I upload to the site?

OSF Storage uses Google Cloud for both active and archival storage. Files uploaded to OSF Storage are stored in various storage locations, configurable per user. We keep MD5 hashes for files and use cyclic redundancy checks to prevent and mitigate any data corruption. File backups are hosted in regional coldline buckets, and there are twice daily backup jobs performed. Please refer to Google Cloud documentation for details about the other robustness features Google Cloud provides.

The OSF database is backed up via streaming replication 24 hours a day, and incremental restore points are made twice daily. Further, the OSF database is maintained in encrypted snapshots for an additional 60 days. Database backups are verified monthly.

Operational data for other OSF services are backed up in primary cloud file storage for 60 days.

Logs are primarily stored in Google Cloud cold storage indefinitely. In certain cases a third- party aggregation service is used for up to 90 days, then backed up to Amazon S3 indefinitely.

If I delete a file or project, can I get them back?

Unfortunately, no. When a user deletes a file or project from  OSF, access to this content is removed for all users. 

What if I don't want to make anything available publicly in OSF?

OSF is designed to support both private and public workflows. You can keep projects, or individual components of projects, private so that only your project collaborators have access to them.

Is OSF HIPAA compliant?

OSF is not HIPAA compliant. If you use a HIPAA-compliant storage provider that is available as an OSF add-on, we recommend using that service connected to your OSF project to meet your HIPAA requirements. Please refer to your institutional policies regarding specific security requirements for your research.


Where does OSF store my data?

The United States is the default storage location for OSF Storage. You can set a global storage location for newly created projects going forward; different locations can be set on a per-project basis upon creation. Setting a global storage location is not retroactive: All existing projects will continue to be stored in the United States. As of now, the storage locations available are

  • United States
  • Canada - Montréal
  • Germany - Frankfurt
  • Australia - Sydney

Files connected to third-party storage add-ons are not stored or backed up on OSF; please refer to the provider's server locations for information on where this content is stored.

What services can I use with OSF?

OSF supports many third-party add-ons. For storage, you can connect to Amazon S3, Bitbucket, Box, Dataverse, Dropbox, Figshare, Github, GitLab, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Owncloud. For citation management, you can connect to Mendeley and Zotero. OSF also has its own default storage add-on, OSF Storage, if you choose not to connect to any third-party add-ons. Please refer to the Add-ons section of our Guides for more information on how to use add-ons.

What is the individual file size limit?

Individual files must be 5GB or less to be uploaded to OSF Storage. Larger files can be stored in an add-on. See What is the cap on data per user or per project?

What is the cap on data per user or per project?

Currently, there is no applied limit on storage per project, and there is no applied overall cap on the amount of OSF Storage per user. Beginning November 3, 2020, OSF will limit the capacity of private projects and components utilizing OSF Storage to 5 GB and public projects and components to 50 GB. Each project is created with a default OSF Storage enabled. View our Storage Caps help guide for additional information.

Each project can additionally have any number of add-ons connected to their project to extend its usability and allow access to existing data/materials. 

The limit of add-on storage options varies by provider. We recommend users utilize the storage option that is ideal for their data (e.g., with respect to accessibility or security) and connect that service to their OSF project(s) rather than transfer the data to OSF storage.

Storage providers on OSF
Storage by provider File size limits when uploaded to each add-on from OSF
Amazon S3 5GB free or a paid package based on location and storage plan 5GB

1GB free per repository

Read-only connection with OSF

10GB free

Dataverse 1TB free on Harvard Dataverse; other Dataverses set alternate limits 2GB

2GB free


20GB free private storage, unlimited public


1GB free per repository


10GB free per repository

Read-only connection with OSF
Google Drive
15GB free 5GB

5GB free

Read-only connection with OSF
ownCloud 5GB free 512MB

Many academic research institutions may offer enterprise licenses for the tools above that provide increased storage limits. Institutions may also offer access to locally available storage options for users that have OSF Institutions.

There is no limit imposed by OSF for the amount of storage used across add-ons connected to a given project. OSF storage is offered as a complement to these options and to allow complete documentation of a research project’s lifecycle. Please see the COS Terms of Use for details.

What is the size limit for a registration?

Registrations archive and preserve both OSF Storage and add-ons connected to projects. Registrations must be 5GB or less across all storage being registered. If you need to create a registration larger than 5GB, email us at support@osf.io.


What do I do if I lost my email confirmation for OSF registration, or I never received it?

Log in to OSF with the email address and password of the account you created, and there will be a link to resend the confirmation email.

My email address has changed. How do I change my login email?

From your "Account Settings" page, you can add additional email addresses to your account, and select which of these is your primary email address. Any of these emails can be used to log in to OSF.

I have multiple OSF accounts. How do I merge them into one account?

Log in to the account you wish to keep and navigate to your "Account Settings" page. There, enter the email address associated with your other OSF account. You will receive a confirmation link via email. Clicking the link will merge the projects and components into one account.

How do I deactivate my OSF account?

From your "Account Settings" page, you can request a deactivation of your OSF account. A member of the OSF team will review your request and respond to confirm deactivation.

Using OSF

What is the difference between a component and a folder?

A folder can be used to organize files within a project or component - just like a folder on your own computer groups files together. A component is like a sub-project to help you organize different parts of your research. Components have their own privacy and sharing settings as well as their own unique, persistent identifiers for citation, and their own wiki and add-ons. You can also register a component on its own, without registering the parent project.

How can I license my data/code/etc.?

To apply a license to your OSF project, visit the project's "Overview" page and select one from the "License picker" in the top left of the page below the project's description. You can select from a variety of commonly used licenses or upload your own.

How do I get a DOI for my project?

DOIs are available for public projects and registrations. To get a DOI, first create a project or registration. Then click the "Create DOI" link, located in the top left of the page below the project title. A DOI  will be automatically created.

How do I delete a project or component?

To delete a project or component, navigate to the project or component and click on Settings in the gray navigation bar. There you will see a red Delete button. If the project or component has nested components, you must delete the nested components before you can delete the parent project or component.

What's a globally unique identifier (GUID)? What metadata is maintained about them?

A globally unique identifier, or GUID, is a unique string only assigned to one object on OSF. All files, projects, registrations and users on OSF receive a GUID. Privacy settings of the project, component, or registration dictate who can see the metadata about files, projects, components, or registrations. If a file is deleted, the GUID will always resolve to a page that provides metadata about the removed file (file name, storage provider, if the deletion occurred on OSF or on an add-on service, name/GUID of user who deleted the file, and timestamp of file deletion). For projects, components, registrations and users the GUID will resolve and inform that the content has been removed. Non-deleted or withdrawn files, links, and metadata are persistent as described above.

What is a registration? And how is it different from project?

A registration is a frozen version of your project that can never be edited or deleted, but you can issue a withdrawal of it later, leaving behind basic metadata. The project can continue to be edited and updated, providing you the option to register your project at different points throughout the research cycle.

When you create the registration, you have the option of either making it public immediately or making it private for up to four years through an embargo. A registration is useful for certifying what you did in a project in advance of data analysis, or for confirming the exact state of the project at important points of the lifecycle, such as manuscript submission or the onset of data collection. Read more about registrations here.

What if I don't want to register anything in OSF?

Registering is an optional feature of OSF.

How do I rename a project?

You can rename a project or component by clicking on its title in the top left of the project or component "Overview" page.

How do I move a file from one storage add-on to another? Or one component to another?

You can move files between components and add-ons (provided the components and add-ons are a part of the same project) by simply dragging and dropping from within the "Files" section on the project "Overview" page or in the "Files" tab via the project navigation bar. The Dataverse add-on does not currently support this functionality.

I'm a contributor on a private project but can't seem to access it. What happened?

You may have been removed from the project by one of the administrators. You can get in touch with one of the administrators to ask if you were deleted and whether they can re-add you to the project.

I have a DOI for my OSF project. Can I host the material elsewhere without losing the DOI?

Yes, send us an email with your DOI and the new location of your materials and we will update the URL associated with your DOI.

What can I do with a file after uploading it into a storage add-on?

You can view, download, delete, and rename any files uploaded into OSF Storage. Plain text files can be edited in your browser. All files are assigned unique, persistent identifiers, suitable for use in citations. 

Files in third party storage add-ons might have restrictions on renaming or deleting.

I can't find my project when I search for it on OSF. What’s wrong?

The search function only returns public projects, so if you are searching for one of your own private projects, it will not be returned in the results. To search for your own projects, go to your dashboard and look through the list displayed there, or use the "My Projects" tab in the navigation bar.

How do I create a lab group/organizational group?

The best way to create a lab or organizational group on the OSF is to create a project for that group. Then, individual projects within the lab can either be organized into components of the lab project or into their own projects which are linked to the lab group project. For an example, check out the Reproducibility Project: Psychology.

Why can't I see my registration?

You may be in the project rather than the registration. To go to your registration, open the project that you registered, and click the Registrations tab in the navigation bar. You'll be taken to the "Registrations" page, where all registrations associated with the project will be listed. Select the registration you want to view from the list.

Alternatively, you can access all your registrations by clicking the My Projects tab in the navigation bar, then clicking All my registrations from the sidebar, and selecting the registration from the list.

Can I nest my existing projects?

It isn't possible to move projects to be nested below one another at this time. However, you can simulate this structure by adding links to the desired projects from the main project, and the links will appear on the project page under "Components" — see our help guide for step-by-step instructions.

I'm a researcher and want to find research being done in my field. How do I find this content?

You can search for content using the main search feature in the navigation bar. Simply click the Search tab, and type in your search criteria using Lucene search syntaxFor example:

  •  tags:(engineering)

You can then filter results using the sidebar options, e.g. projects, files, users, preprints, registrations, etc.

How do I become an ambassador for the Center for Open Science?

Please fill out our Ambassadors Interest Form, and we will reach out to you once we have reviewed your submission. For more information on the ambassador's program, visit the following links:

  • https://cos.io/our-communities/become-ambassador/
  • https://osf.io/bs23x/
How can I set up a meeting page for a conference?

Please refer to our help guide here for step-by-step instructions.

How can I tell if my registration is registered?

After submitting your registration, you would have received an email titled "Registration pending for one of your projects" in which there will be a link to approve your registration. If you didn't receive this email, try checking your spam or quarantine folders to see if the email was sent there.

All admins on the registration can approve the registration by clicking the link. If an admin disapproves the registration, the registration will be canceled. If the admins do not take action via the email, the registration will become registered automatically after 48 hours.

48 hours have passed, but my registration is still pending. Why isn't it registered?

The 48-hour cycle runs from midnight on the day you submitted the registration to midnight on the second day. Try checking back at midnight.

If you need to register before midnight, you would have received an email titled "Registration pending for one of your projects" in which there will be a link to approve your registration. If you can't find this email, try checking your spam or quarantine folders to see if the email was sent there.

I'm trying to verify my account but am not receiving the email. What should I do?

Try checking your spam and quarantine folders to see if the email was sent there. If you still don't find it, please submit a request to user support, and we will help you.

If I make my project public, will that make my registrations public, too?

The privacy settings of projects and registrations are independent from each other. Making your project public will not affect the embargo on the registrations. The only way to make a registration public is to actively end the embargo.

My registration is public but I need it to be private. How do I make it private?

Once a registration has become public, it cannot be made private. However, if you need to, you can create a new, embargoed registration, and then withdraw the original one. For transparency best practices, please provide a link to the new registration in the justification for withdrawal and provide a brief explanation of the reason for withdrawal.

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