Using Cluster Remote Access Dashboards

Some University specialist computing clusters can be accessed remotely, via Cluster Remote Access Dashboards. Dashboards provide the availbility and connectivity details required for remote access.


What are Clusters?

Cluster Remote Access enables students or staff to remotely connect to desktop PCs / computers in specialist clusters via dashboards. A cluster is a connection of two or more computers used in parallel. Clusters offer many benefits including combining the memory and processing power of each computer to increase overall performance.

General Information

Details of the dashboards available and further information on Clusters can be found in this related article: Cluster Remote Access.

Please ensure you visit the relevant cluster dashboard each time you would like to use a computer. Computers listed on the dashboards are automatically updated to show which ones are available to use. If you have previously downloaded a connection file and attempt to use it again, it might be in use by another student, and if in use you won't be able to connect.


You should ensure that you save your data regularly to a location other than on the local computer as you will not use the same computer each time you are remotely connecting.

We advise that you save data to a location such as OneDrive. This ensures the data is backed up and available from all student computers.

Alternatively save your data to a departmental area or your M drive.

Time Limits

To ensure equitable and fair access to systems, access is monitored, controlled and limited.

You should Sign Out of a remote computer when you have finished using it. If you disconnect, your session will remain active and prevent others from connecting to that computer.

If your disconnected session exceeds 2 hours it will be terminated and any unsaved work will be lost.

Each cluster has a maximum session limit (minimum is 2 hours) as shown on the Cluster Remote Access page. At the end of the session time limit you will receive a 2 minute warning that your session will end. After which, any unsaved work will be lost.

Daily Restarts

Computers will be restarted each night to ensure that security updates are applied. If you have an active session on a computer, you will be warned that a reboot is taking place and be given 2 minutes to save your work before the computer restarts.

Using the Dashboard

Important: If you are using an Apple Mac computer off campus to connect you will need the Microsoft Remote Desktop application installed.

1. From the table of available dashboards, click the link relating to the cluster you need to access.

2. On clicking the link you may be redirected to the 'Sign On' page. Enter your University credentials as detailed on the page if necessary.

You will then be presented with a dashboard similar to the image below.

Dashboard highlighting the Computer Labs colum and the Connect button

3. The column 'Computer Labs' identifies the clusters or labs that are accessible via this dashboard. Clicking on the name of a cluster will take you to the page detailing the computers available in that lab.

The names of all computers that are currently available for use in the lab are presented in a random order. If no computers are shown, there are none currently available.

4. To connect, click the 'Connect' button alongside the name of the computer you wish to connect to.

Apple macOS Users

For Apple Mac users, we have put together specific instructions for you here: How to connect to Windows Cluster machines using macOS

Microsoft Windows Users

Important: Windows 7 is not supported and will not connect. You will need to upgrade to Windows 10.

1. On clicking 'Connect' you will be presented with the prompt below to confirm you wish to download the connection file:

Download prompt

2. Click the 'Download' button. This will begin the download of a connection file to your computer

3. On completion of the download, open the file. This will show dialogue similar to below:

Remote Desktop Connection dialogue

4. Click the 'Connect' button. 

5. You may be warned that the identity of the computer cannot be verified, click 'Yes' to continue. This will then attempt connection to the cluster computer.

Username and password prompt

6. You will need to enter your university credentials to continue:

You will then be connected to the cluster computer on campus.

Important: If you receive a warning when connecting, it indicates that someone else is already using the computer. Click 'No', then please return and select a different computer from the dashboard.

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