Remote access to lab computers during COVID-19

For most programs, students may have a better experience using our Virtual Lab, which is cloud hosted and does not require VPN or remote desktop software. However, remote access to campus labs is needed by students to use MATLAB, Adobe CC, macOS-only programs, and certain other specialty programs that are not in the Virtual Lab.

Remote access to campus lab computers allows students to access software they cannot install on their personal computers. Any student who is physically on campus can access the lab computers (e.g. from a residence hall). Students who are off campus need VPN access in order to get to the campus labs; professors have already had this set up for certain courses. Other students who feel they need access should contact T&I.

One time prep

  • If you need to access lab computers from off campus (not just across campus): Install VPN and review using Duo with VPN.  Access to VPN requires Duo enrollment If you have not yet enrolled in Duo, please contact T&I at 704-894-2900.
  • If you have a Mac at home and want to access lab Windows computers, use the Mac App Store to install Microsoft Remote Desktop 10.
  • If you have a Windows computer at home and want to access lab Mac computers, we do not yet have a recommended tool. Contact T&I for more information.

To access a lab computer

  1. If you are not on the campus network: Connect the VPN. Skip this step if you are on the campus network via wired ethernet or eduroam wireless.
  2. Go to the appropriate list of available computers. (You may see a warning that the site is not secure.)
    • General use labs
    • Physics labs for designated Physics courses only
    • These lists may not auto-refresh, so reload the page if you already have it open from a previous lab use session.
  3. Choose an available computer that is running the operating system you need (10.14 Mojave = Mac) and click on the Address link.
  4. If you are connecting to a Windows lab computer:
    • A small file with a name like will be downloaded to your computer. Click it to open the Remote Desktop program on your computer (built in for Windows or installed from the app store on Mac) and prompt you for your credentials.
    • Enter your username in the form davidson\username, and your network password.
    • You may see a warning that the certificate cannot be verified. This is OK. 
  5. If you are connecting to a Mac lab computer from a Mac personal computer:
    • You may have to allow the web page to launch the Screen Sharing app.
    • Enter your network username (just the username) and password.
    • You will see the lab choose-your-OS page. Choose macOS, then log in as normal.
  6. If you want to connect to a Mac lab computer from a Windows personal computer, we do not have a recommended VNC client at this time. Contact T&I for more information.
  7. Make sure you log out of the lab computer when you are done - don't just disconnect the session. Logging out will make the computer available for other students.
  8. If your session is disconnected accidentally, you should be able to reconnect to it using the same .rdp file (for a Windows lab computer) or by opening Screen Sharing and connecting to the computer by name (eg W12345) from the list. 

Good to Know

Respondus Lockdown Browser is installed on the Mac side of these computers, but it won't work from a remote location (because one of the things it requires to be locked down is screen sharing). Run Lockdown Browser from your own local computer.


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