Virtual Labs: Windows Virtual Desktop

Brock University Virtual Labs is an online platform that provides users with access to the various apps required for courses currently offered to students. There are 2 separate platforms that comprise the virtual lab environment:

  • Splashtop provides users with access to the on-campus Mac labs (PLZ310 and MWS133)
  • Windows Virtual Desktop provides users with access to Windows-based apps (for all other labs)

This page focuses on the Windows Virtual Desktop, providing instructions on how to access and use the apps found there. For instructions on using Splashtop to access the virtual Mac labs, please refer to the Virtual Mac Labs: Splashtop page.

Windows Virtual Desktop labs are available to all students. All classes are held using COMMONS virtual machines.




Service Hours

Please view our current support hours.

Service Expectations

The Windows Virtual Desktop labs are available 24/7 except during scheduled maintenance and unplanned outages.


Virtual machines in the COMMONS are available 24/7 on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note that during off-hours (evenings after 10pm and weekends), initial login to a COMMONS virtual machine may be slower than normal due to the fact that machines are made available on-demand.

Maximum Session Length

The maximum session length for a COMMONS virtual machine is 3 hours. A single session cannot last longer than 3 hours, however you can start a new session immediately afterwards if capacity permits.

Idle Timeout

The idle timeout on a COMMONS virtual machine is 15 minutes. Your session will automatically be terminated in the event that you are idle for 15 minutes.

Please note that you will be considered idle if the machine does not receive any user input from you (moving the mouse, typing on the keyboard, etc.). Programs running tasks do not count as user input.

All unsaved progress on your work will be lost if/when your session is terminated.

Disconnected Sessions

In the event that you lose connection to a virtual machine (due to power failure, bad wifi connection, etc.), you have 15 minutes to reconnect before the system terminates your session completely. You will not lose any of your work so long as you reconnect within the 15 minute period. All unsaved progress on your work WILL be lost if you do not reconnect within the 15 minutes.

More Information about maximum Session Lengths

In the event that you reach the maximum session length for your current session (3 hours for COMMONS virtual machines), you will automatically be logged off of the virtual machine by the system and you WILL lose any unsaved work. When this occurs, you will see a system message like this:

This is a generic system message and can be ignored. Despite the fact that it says to try connecting again, you will not be able to do so. Clicking the Reconnect button will not successfully reestablish your connection. If/when you see a message like this, simply click Cancel to dismiss it and return to the virtual lab dashboard.

The following software is available on all Windows Virtual Desktop machines:

Installed Software
Adobe Acrobat Reader
ArcGIS Desktop
Ghostscript 9.52 [x64]
Google Earth Pro
GSView 5.0 [x64]
IBM SPSS Statistics
InteliJ Community 2020.2.2
Logic Circuit
Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Office Professional (includes Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Publisher, OneNote)
Microsoft OneDrive
Microsoft Power BI
Microsoft Project Professional (only available for licensed users)
Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio
Microsoft Visual Studio
MPLUS Multilevel (CHYS graduate students only)
PA Explorer
PyCharm Community 2020.2.2
R for Windows
Rampant Postscript Viewer 1.2
Rockwell Arena
Sage 50 Premium Accounting
The Management Scientist
VLC Player

1. Open your web browser and go to

2. Enter your Campus ID (in the format “”) and Password, and then click Sign In.

3. Authenticate your login using Multi-Factor Authentication (Multi-Factor Authentication is mandatory for accessing Brock’s virtual labs).

4. The All Resources tab displays the virtual machines, divided into 1-2 groups:

a. COMMONS (PC) contains a pool of virtual machines that are available 24/7 to all students.

b. Jump Stations (not shown here) contains virtual machines available to certain students as required by a select number of courses.

Connecting to a Virtual Machine

1. Click the virtual machine you wish to access.

2. Check the options you want and then click Allow. Be sure to check Clipboard so that you can copy and paste on the virtual machine from your computer.

3. Enter your User name (Campus ID) and Password and then click Submit.

4. All Windows Virtual Desktop machines run the Windows 10 OS. You will find installed apps on the desktop and in the Start Menu.

Logging off of a virtual machine

When you are done working on a virtual machine, it is important that you properly sign out of the remote computer so that it is returned to the pool of available machines for another student to use.

! Important ! Clicking the X on the tab at the top of the window does NOT sign you out of the remote computer (see image below). Doing so will disconnect you from the computer, but you will continue to stay signed into it. You must follow the simple steps below to properly sign out of a virtual machine.

1. Double-click the Log Off icon on the desktop to completely sign out and disconnect from the virtual machine in a single action. Alternatively, click the Start Menu.

2. Click the User Profile icon

3. Click Sign out. This will sign you out of the virtual machine and close your remote session, returning you to the virtual lab dashboard.

Signing out of the virtual lab dashboard

1. When you are finished working in the virtual labs, sign out by clicking your name in the upper right corner of the browser window.

2. Click Sign out.

Where to Save Your Files

When working in the virtual lab environment, it is important that you store your files in a central location that is easily accessible at all times, across all virtual machines. To accommodate this need, ITS has set up OneDrive on all virtual machines for easy file access.

Save all of your work to your OneDrive. Do not save to any other location (e.g., the desktop or the C: drive), as your files will not be accessible to you again.

WARNING: All virtual machines have a session time limit on them. This time limit varies depending on the particular virtual machine you are using. When the time limit is reached, machines will shut down automatically and you will lose any unsaved work. In order not to lose your work, save your files often!

Setting Up OneDrive

The first time you connect to a virtual machine, you will be prompted to set up your OneDrive so that you can access and save your files.

Once set up, the next time you connect to a virtual machine, the Documents folder on each machine will be redirected to your OneDrive, so you can safely save your files in the Documents folder as well. This folder redirection is NOT available during the same session that you set up your OneDrive. It will only become available on subsequent logins.

NOTE: Please see the FAQs for exceptions to this rule.

Follow these steps to complete setup:

1. Enter your Brock email address and click Sign in.

2. Enter your Password and click Sign in.

3. Click Next.

4. Click Open my OneDrive folder to complete setup.

Printing From A Virtual Machine

1. If you select Printer on the Access local resources popup when you connect to a virtual machine, you can print your work out on your home printer. Alternatively, you can choose to print to a PDF and save it to your OneDrive.

Do not select print-it, as this is for on-campus printing and you will not be able to retrieve your print out.


Please scroll to the bottom of this page for all frequently asked questions about Windows Virtual Desktop labs.


The ITS Help Desk is happy to help you. Here’s how you can contact us:

Call Us

(905) 688-5550 x 4357



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Class labs do not receive their own virtual machines; all classes are held using COMMONS virtual machines. Simply launch a COMMONS virtual machine to access the apps for your class.

After you set up OneDrive on a virtual machine, the Documents folder on each machine will be redirected to your OneDrive in most cases. However certain programs (like SPSS) do not recognize this folder redirection so if you save to the Documents folder when using one of these programs, you are actually saving your files on that virtual machine instead of in OneDrive.

If you saved work to the Documents folder and do not see the files in your OneDrive, check the following path on the virtual machine for your files: This PC > Windows (C:) > Users > (your Campus ID) > Documents (e.g., if the user’s ID is sallen, the path would be: This PC > Windows (C:) > Users > sallen > Documents).

Certain programs like SPSS do not recognize the folder redirection that is put in place when you setup OneDrive on a virtual machine, so if you save to the Documents folder when using one of these programs, you are actually saving your files on that virtual machine instead of in OneDrive.

When saving in SPSS, manually navigate to and select your OneDrive folder. Do not select the Documents folder when saving in SPSS.


You do not need to do anything special to add your TAs to your class. TAs should simply log into the virtual labs environment and use a virtual machine in the COMMONS to access the same software as your students.

When you have something to show your students during class, you will need to share your screen in your Teams or Lifesize meeting. Students cannot access your machine through the virtual lab environment to see what you are doing.

If your exam requires access to virtual Windows PCs, you have two options:

  1. Schedule an official exam through the scheduling office. If you do, a dedicated virtual exam room will become available to your students 5 minutes prior to the exam’s scheduled start time. At that time, a new entry in the virtual lab lobby called “EXAMS” will appear, in which your students will find the exam room (e.g., “COSC1P01 Sec 01 Exam Room”). Attendance will automatically be recorded at various times throughout the exam (5 minutes before start; at start time; at end time; and 5 minutes after end time). Any students remaining in the room 15 minutes after the exam’s scheduled end time will automatically be removed, and any unsaved work will be lost.
  2. Schedule your exam during regular class hours. If you do, your students will access the virtual PCs in the Commons in the same manner as they do for your class during the term. There are no special requirements for scheduling your exam in this manner, and no special services are available. Students will be able to sign into the virtual computer Commons at any time, without restriction. It will be up to you to take attendance and ensure that your students comply with the exam time limit.