Mobile Desktop

The Mobile Desktop is a Windows desktop environment that behaves just like a regular computer. The difference is that what you see on the screen is happening on a server far away. Unlike a traditional PC, your desktop session is mobile, which means it is available from any computer, thin client, and even from home!

The Mobile Desktop is often paired with a thin client. We use thin clients throughout the College of Engineering: In the college computer labs, the administrative offices, and the Academic Village residence hall. These thin clients connect to Windows servers and provide access to software and a common desktop experience. If you work in the College of Engineering and have a thin client, you are using a Mobile Desktop.

How do I connect to my Mobile Desktop?

Two ways: Using a thin client, or using your own computer.

  • If you have a thin client at your desk, then ETS has already set up a connection icon for you. Double-click on the icon at the top left of your screen to connect.
  • If you normally use your own computer to connect to your Mobile Desktop, or just want to connect to your Mobile Desktop from another computer or thin client, we have specific connection instructions for you.

How is the Mobile Desktop different than other computers?

The Mobile Desktop resides on a server used by other people like you, so it is a shared resource. As a result, you will have less administrative control over your computer. In practical terms, this means you cannot install software packages and devices like printers. (If you need software installed, please contact ETS.) You will need to use a networked printer, and although you can connect USB flash drives to thin clients, you cannot connect certain devices like scanners or label printers.

You will have limited access to the C: drive of your computer. (You really don’t need it, because you have network storage space on your U:, T: and V: drives.)

The Mobile Desktop does provide you with more mobility. Forget the hassle of carrying around a laptop and synchronizing files! In addition to using your office’s thin client to connect to your Mobile Desktop, you can connect to it anywhere from any computer. All of your programs will be there just like at work, and you will have access to all of your files. Your Mobile Desktop is also completely backed up, unlike a PC in your office.

Where are my files?

All of your files remain on your Mobile Desktop, safely on our server. As always, we recommend that you save your files only to your network drives (U:, V: and T:) and not on your local computer’s hard drive or your desktop.

I'm done for the day. Do I need to log off?

No! You can simply disconnect from your remote session and reconnect to it later. That way, all of your programs keep running the way you left them. As a bonus, someone else could use your station without interfering with your programs!

To do this, log in to your Mobile Desktop as normal. When you’re ready to leave for the day, or move to another desk, click the Disconnect icon on your desktop.

These special icons on the desktop of your Mobile Desktop allow you to Log Off (to end your session), Disconnect (to resume your session later), and Lock the computer (if you want to walk away from the screen for a few minutes), respectively.


If you do not see these icons, please contact ETS to have them added to your Mobile Desktop.

An alternate way to accomplish this is to click the Windows start button, then the arrow directly to the right of the Log Off button. Select Disconnect.

What software is included?

Mobile Desktop software includes everything you need to get your work done. It has common programs like web browsers (Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer), Thunderbird, Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat Professional, and other standard office productivity programs. (See here for a complete list.)

ETS can install special software for you, by request. Remember that all software installed on your Mobile Desktop will also be installed for all other users of the server upon which your Mobile Desktop resides.

We understand that some people have software and personalized needs that do not lend well to this shared resource. For these people, we offer a Personal Mobile Desktop (see below).

What are the hardware specifications?

They vary. For the Shared Mobile Desktop, they are well-equipped servers with shared memory and disk space. For the Personal Mobile Desktop, see below.

How do I get a Mobile Desktop?

The Mobile Desktop comes with a Thin Client Service subscription.

What is the Personal Mobile Desktop?

It is an upgrade to the Mobile Desktop. The Personal Mobile Desktop is similar in most respects to the basic Mobile Desktop, but it is a virtual computer, and you will be the only person logging in to that virtual computer. This means that you will have more control over the computer’s customization and what software is installed. There is a trade-off: It has, in general, less computing power than using the basic Mobile Desktop on a shared server, and the software is not as consistently updated, because it is individually managed. The Personal Mobile Desktop is available for an extra fee.

The Personal Mobile Desktop has these virtual resources: 2 CPUs, 4 GB RAM, disk space for the operating system and installed software, plus 5 GB extra disk space. We strongly recommend you store your data on the U: drive or T: drive, just as with a desktop computer.

My office has a thin client, but multiple people need to access it. Can I do this?

This is a common situation. Some departmental offices like to use a thin client for the reception desk, for example, which might be used by several student employees throughout the day. When you purchase Thin Client Service, you may split the service between three student workers or GTAs at no additional cost. They will each receive their own Mobile Desktop. You may also separately purchase Mobile Desktop service, with or without Thin Client Service. When you purchase Mobile Desktop service, you may split the service between two student workers or GTAs at no additional cost. Please contact ETS for details.

Please note that when using a thin client for office work, the student worker should not connect to the Labs Windows Desktop, even though they may have access to it. If they experience any problems, need software installed for the work they’re doing, or need to connect to a printer, these tasks are not supported by office workers using the Labs Windows Desktop. The Labs Windows Desktop is for the computer labs!

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Engineering Technology Services

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Call (970) 491-2917

Stop by an ETS Help Desk:
Main Help Desk (Glover 100)
Foothills Campus Help Desk (Atmospheric Science 107)
Academic Village Help Desk (AVB C142, next to the Orion Design Studios)