How to remotely connect to your office computer from another device via the University's Remote Desktop gateway.
PLEASE NOTE: You do not need to use Remote Desktop to access your University email. Instead, please visit:
In the current ongoing situation as each of us look to manage working from home, you may require to connect to your desktop computer in a University building – although it should be emphasised that most people do not need to do this. Remote Desktop is a way to connect to and use your desktop computer in a University building from your devices at home.
Research data storage options
Because access to University buildings is now very restricted, technical support staff will not be able to physically resolve any issues that arise with your computer in a University building. Therefore, to ensure your data that is only locally stored on that machine is safe and available to you we urge you to immediately copy such data to the DataStore central storage service or a University cloud storage service (such as Onedrive or Sharepoint) in line with data sharing agreements or relevant information governance policies wherever possible – please see this guide to storage options for research data to see the options available. You will be able to access this data once this is done following the Off-site Working guides.
Help us understand your needs
If you are using Remote Desktop in order to carry out your work and not just access data please help us understand this work by completing this one minute survey.
- Check that remote working is possible within the scope authorised by the Information Asset Owner (generally for research this will be the study PI)
- Data Sharing Agreements usually have specific details about how data can be accessed and used, check you are abiding by the agreement if you work under one
- Check that there is justification to be accessing confidential data in this way
- Check that your home is secure with lockable doors and windows, and the keys for those are secure
- If accessing identifiable information online, use University VPN or secure remote desktop connections, see University InfoSec webpage
- Remember that using a study ID number is still considered identifiable information if the key to the pseudonymisation is within your organisation
- Any identifiable information in hard copy or accessible on devices must be stored locked away
- If using hard copy data that you need to dispose of, describe how you will do this
- Use a ‘clean desk clean screen’ policy when you are away from your work area (hard copy documents out of sight, unattended device locked). The information is for your eyes only · University of Edinburgh policies on Information Security and Data Protection apply
- Make sure you have completed the compulsory University of Edinburgh e-learning on Information Security Essentials and Data Protection Training. Another useful course is Data Protection Training for Research (self-enrol via Learn).
These two initial steps need only be performed once, but must be done on the computer you intend to remote to in advance of working remotely.
For the duration of the Covid-19 virus outbreak, IS have set all University computers to remain awake to help users to connect. However, there may be a chance that your system was unable to receive this configuration and you may need to be able to wake the computer using your 'Wake List' in MyEd.
- On the computer you want to wake, visit https://www.myed.ed.ac.uk
- Navigate to Services > My wake list
- Choose 'Add [computer name] (the computer you are using) to My Wake List?'
- When you need to wake this computer in future, return to this page and press the alarm clock icon next to its name.
For full instructions with screenshots, see Wake-On-LAN service (PDF)
If you are currently logged into the office Windows PC you wish to remote to
- Make sure you are logged into your office Windows PC. This is NOT your computer at home.
- Make sure the PC is connected with its ethernet cable and is NOT on the WiFi or VPN.
- Press the button below and log in with Your University Login.
- This will check your username and attempt to add you for remote desktop rights to the PC.
- Restart your PC.
Not on the office PC you wish to remote to, or having problems?
If you are not logged into the PC you later need to remotely access, or are having any difficulties, please do the following:
- Visit the IS Helpline Contact Form and select Off-site Working > I still need help
- Request Remote Desktop access to your office Windows PC, providing the computer name as found in the My wake list instructions above.
When connecting into University Windows PCs, you do not need to use the VPN service on your computer at home as it is not required.
The VPN service must be used when connecting into University Macs, however.
At this time we ask people to only run the VPN service if it is needed as there is currently a very high demand for the service.
Set up a remote desktop connection
Test your connection
We recommend you test the connection to your office computer before working off-site.
- From a laptop: Set up a remote connection and confirm you're able to log into the office computer successfully.
- From a desktop machine: Try connecting from a colleague's office computer to ensure you are able.
Need any help?
If your connection to remote desktop is failing
Alternatives to remote desktop
If data you wish to access is only held on the local storage of your work based computer, then this data is at-risk if your computer fails.
This data should be copied to a secure University location such as Onedrive or Datasync. If this data is research data governed by a formal data sharing agreement then you should discuss access arrangements with your PI.
- To access a shared network drive, use a secure VPN connection and then connect directly from your home device.
- You can access email or Microsoft products such as Word, Excel, SharePoint and Teams via a web browser on your device or, you can download these applications to your home device.
- If you cannot access certain resources from a remote desktop machine, for example because of firewall restrictions, contact the IS Helpline explaining your requirements.
- The software you need may be available via the Apps.Ed service. Staff and postgraduate students can request that new applications are added, but there are restrictions, and this is not always achievable.
- Researcher and developers requiring more computing power may be able to use the Cloud Computing Service
- If you’re not aware of alternatives to using RDP for remote working then the following pages provide information to help you work remotely, explaining various options for remotely accessing services, computers and file stores from outwith the University. Alternatively you can contact the IS Helpline or your local computing support team.