Virtual Computing Lab

The Virtual Computing Lab (VCL) allows faculty and students to remotely access software applications without needing to install them on their personal computers. Users can run these applications ‘anywhere, anytime,’ with 24/7 access – provided that there is an established and reliable Internet connection.

1. Learn more about the VCL.

Begin by visiting the VCL website at Faculty may request CTRL consultants to make brief in-class presentations for students and answer any outstanding questions about the system.

2. The VCL offers a wide variety of both quantitative and qualitative licensed software.

Available software includes SAS, SPSS, MATLAB, EViews, Mathematica, NVivo, Stata, MS Office, R, and Python. Requests by faculty are also accepted for installing additional applications, provided that they are compatible with the VCL system and there are no licensing issues.

3. The VCL is operating-system agnostic. It can be utilized by Windows, Mac, and Linux users.

The VCL client is compatible with all major operating systems (including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux). Additionally, users do not need to be connected to AU’s virtual private network (VPN) when accessing the VCL from an off-campus location.

4. Users can access the VCL through a downloadable client or by using their own web browser.

The system can be accessed by downloading the WMWare Horizon client (recommended) from the VCL website or by logging on directly using an Internet browser. The reliability and speed of the VCL environment depends upon the strength of your Internet connection.

5. The virtual environment can be used simultaneously by all members in a large class.

There are 150 virtual desktops, ensuring all users can have access to their own virtual machine.

6. The VCL allows access to American University’s network drives.

The system allows access to AU’s shared network J:\ drive and private network G:\ drives. Users can access and analyze data within the same session by navigating easily between the virtual desktop and the data storage spaces.

7. Refer to the configuration guide before installing the VCL client.

Depending on your operating system, there are some fine points to be aware of when downloading, installing, or configuring the VCL client. We strongly recommend that all users refer to the guide available on the VCL website prior to attempting to access the system.

8. VCL sessions are non-persistent.

Do not save any of your documents or data on the virtual desktops. Once you log off, the desktop documents and data cannot be recovered. To prevent any losses, make use of the storage alternatives listed in item 9 below. If left unattended, a VCL session will terminate itself within thirty minutes.

9. The VCL is compatible with a variety of data storage options.

Users can store and access data from Google Drive, One Drive, or DropBox. They can also map their local machine drives to shared network J:\ and private network G:\ drives.

10. Contact CTRL’s Research Support Group for VCL technical support.

We can be reached at at or (202) 885-3862.