Using Sites Software Remotely with Virtual Sites
S4351 March 2010
With Virtual Sites, you can use the software on Campus Computing Sites Windows workstations remotely from any Macintosh or Windows computer with an Internet connection.
Table of Contents
What Is Virtual Sites?
Virtual Sites is a service that lets you log in remotely to a Campus Computing Sites Windows computer and use the licensed software on it from your own computer. This service gives Windows users access to specialized software on an as-needed basis, and it gives Macintosh users a way to use Windows software from their Macintosh computer.
You can access the Virtual Sites service from the web. Basically, you go to the Virtual Sites website, specify how you'd like to connect to a Sites Windows machine, and request a connection. A connection file will be downloaded to your computer. Depending on the web browser you use, the file will either open automatically, or you'll need to open it. You can then log in to the Sites machine and use it.
Who Can Use It?
Virtual Sites is available to students, faculty and staff on the Ann Arbor campus. A uniqname and UMICH Kerberos password are required for access.
If you are eligible for the standard computing services, you can use Virtual Sites.
The breakdown of who is eligible for the service is as follows:
All regular faculty, staff and students on the Ann Arbor campus including Health System
Students must be "active in program" which is not the same as being registered. Active in program includes students who are not registered but are eligible to register. LS&A students, for example, remain active for up to two years if they haven't graduated, don't have a financial hold, or aren't under some sort of academic discipline.
- Dearborn and Flint faculty, staff and students
- UMOL subscribers
- Temporary employees on any campus
- Conference or program attendees
If you are in the eligible list and you are unable to use Virtual Sites, please contact the ITS accounts office at 734-764-8000.
Before Connecting—Macintosh Only
Before using Virtual Sites, Macintosh users must download and install the Microsoft Remote Desktop Client for Mac. This software is available at no charge from Microsoft.
Go to Microsoft's Mactopia Remote Desktop Connection page and click the Download now link. As of December 2009, the current version of Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection is 2.0.1.
Check the system requirements and follow the installation instructions provided on the download page.
Go to the Virtual Sites website and click the Connect Now button.
Select the appropriate connection options:
a. Software package. If the software you need is featured in our "Specialty Sites," please select the appropriate software configuration. Otherwise, our "Sites Standard" features the normal Sites software loadset.
b. Connection speed. Select the kind of Internet connection you are using. Select Broadband if you are using DSL or a cable modem connection, such as Comcast. Select LAN if you are using an on-campus network connection. Select the appropriate modem speed if you are using a dial-up connection.
Select advanced options if you wish. You can use these settings to control the screen resolution within your connection window and more. See Appendix A. Advanced Connection Options for details.
Click the Request Connection button.
A connection file named Virtual Sites - Click To Connect.rdp will be downloaded to your computer's desktop. It may open automatically, or you may need to open it, depending on what web browser you are using and how you have it configured to download files. Here is what you can expect from some common web browsers (for screen shots, see Appendix B. Downloading the Connection File):
Internet Explorer. The information bar at the top of your browser window will state that Internet Explorer has blocked a file download. Click the right side of that bar for options, then, in the menu that appears, click Download File. In the dialog box that appears next, click Open.
Firefox. A dialog box will open that asks you what you want to do with the file. Select Open with, then click OK.
Safari. Find the Virtual Sites - Click To Connect.rdp file on your desktop and double-click it.
Log in to the Sites computer using your uniqname and UMICH Kerberos password.
Read the message about appropriate use of U-M computing resources, and click OK.
You can now use the Sites machine from your Remote Desktop window.
NOTE: You can only have one Sites connection open at a time. If you request and open a connection from another computer, your first connection will be closed.
Changing Connection Options
If you wish to use different connection options, such as a different screen resolution, you will need to close your current connection and open a new one. On the Launch Virtual Sites page, you can click the Change Connection Options link to request and open a new connection. This will cause your previous connection to be disconnected.
Log Out When You're Done
Log out by double-clicking the Log Me Out icon on the left side of your Remote Desktop window.
Five minutes after you have logged out or otherwise disconnected, your connection file will become unusable. You can move it to your Trash or Recycle Bin and delete it.
Tips for Working Remotely
Save your work to your IFS home directory. You will see an icon for it at the left side of your Remote Desktop window. When you save a document, in the Save As dialog box, first click Desktop, then My IFS Home. You can then select the folder within which you want to save your file.
If you prefer, you can use MFile to access your IFS home directory.
Do not save to the remote computer's desktop! You will not be able to recover files on the remote computer after ending your session (or disconnecting for more than five minutes) and the remote computer's desktop should only be used for temporary files you aren't planning on keeping.
Save often! Introducing an extra network connection into your computing adds a new potential point of failure, and your best defense is to save your work frequently to your IFS space.
Log out when you are finished using your connection to free the machine up for other users. Virtual Sites is a shared resource. Sites staff reserve the right to terminate sessions lasting more than 24 hours following a 30-minute warning message.
Visit ITS's Information System to obtain ITS computer documentation and other resources.
The ITS Service Center provides a variety of computing help resources.
For further help with this or any other topic, call 734-764-HELP  or submit an online service request.
Appendix A. Advanced Connection Options
Before you request your connection to a Sites computer, you can set advanced options. Click the triangle next to Advanced Options to see your options.
Display. The Desktop Size option lets you set the screen resolution of your connection window. The lower the numbers, the larger the text will be in your connection window. The Number of Colors displayed affects the quality of color display. The more colors displayed, however, the more bandwidth is required. If you are using a modem connection, you may want to choose a lower number here.
Local Resources. Checking these checkboxes allows the remote Sites computer to connect to any printers or drives that are connected to your local computer. Checking the Disk Drives checkbox, for example, would allow you to open a file on your computer using software on the Sites computer. Checking the Printers checkbox, would allow you to print from the Sites computer to printers that are connected to your local computer.
Performance. These settings let you optimize for bandwidth. When you choose your connection speed, appropriate selections are made to the performance settings automatically. You can change them if you wish, however.
Appendix B. Downloading the Connection File
Using Internet Explorer
The information bar at the top of your browser window will state that Internet Explorer has blocked a file download. Click the right side of that bar for options.
In the menu that pops up, click Download File.
In the dialog box that appears next, click Open.
A dialog box will open that asks you what you want to do with the file. Select Open with, then click OK.
Find the Virtual Sites - Click To Connect.rdp file on your desktop and double-click it.