How Do I Get Started?

The basic steps of using the Virtual Computing Lab.

Step 1 – You will need a valid account.

This can be an NCSU account, an account from one of our academic partners, or a standalone VCL account.

Step 2 –  Remote Desktop Connection

Depending on your personal computer’s operating system, you might need additional connection software such as Remote Desktop Connection or ssh(secure shell application). For details please see Additional Access Requirements.

Step 3 – Reservation process:

  1. On the main page, click ‘Make a Reservation‘ or ‘Reservations‘ at the top of the page.
  2. If you are not already authenticated, you will be presented with a login screen. Select your affiliation and proceed to log in.
  3. Once authenticated, you will be presented with the Reservations page. Click the ‘New Reservation‘ button. A window will pop-up and you will be presented with a menu of VCL application environments to choose from.
  4. Choose the VCL application environment you would like to use from the list.
  5. Select the time and duration you would like for the reservation, for an immediate session select ‘Now‘. (By default the initial duration is 1 hour. Once the reservation is active the duration can be extended. Under certain cases longer durations are available for faculty, research, or departmental services.)
  6. Click ‘Create Reservation‘.
  7. You will be taken to the Current Reservations page. Here you will see the reservation pending while the assigned machine is being prepared. (Click on the ‘Pending…‘ link for details of the processing.)
  8. Once ready, a ‘Connect!‘ button will appear. Depending on the environment, it can take anywhere from 1 to 20  minutes for the reserved system to be prepared for your use.
  9. After clicking the ‘Connect!‘ button, the details of your requested environment will appear. (The details can include the remote IP address, a single one-time password (depending on the environment) and information on how to connect to the remote computer running the application environment you selected.  Also note the details regarding the connect information will change for each reservation you make.)
  10. Connect to the remote machine.

Step 4 – During Your Reservation:

After you hit the “connect” button there are several important things you should know,

  1. You have approximately 15 minutes to connect to the assigned machine. (If you do not connect and successfully login, your reservation will timeout and you will need to make another reservation.)
  2. After you have connected, you will need to stay connected to the remote machine to keep your reservation until your selected end-time. If you disconnect from your assigned machine, you will have 15 minutes to reconnect. If you are unable or choose not to re-connect, your reservation will timeout and the machine will be reclaimed and reloaded with another VCL environment to make available for another user.
  3. Save your work. Make sure to save your work often. In the VCL images, we provide tools for access to your campus filespace. In Windows based images, you have the option of having your personal computer’s drive accessible on the remote machine. Other options include Expandrive, winSCP, Google drive.
    1. See Where To Save My Work for more details.
  4. SAVE YOUR WORK — It’s worth saying twice…

Step 5 – End Your Reservation:

There are a couple ways to end my reservation.

  1. Go back the Current Reservations VCL page, select “Delete Reservation“.
  2. Simply disconnect from your remote machine. After 15 minutes of an inactive connection, the VCL system will reclaim the machine and proceed to the cleanup procedure.
  3. Any work left on the remote machine will be lost. During the cleanup procedure, the machine is reinstalled with a clean image to make available for the next potential VCL user.