Use a Windows virtual machine on the Stanford network (Apporto)

Stanford now offers access to the Stanford University Virtual Computing Cluster (also known as Apporto). You can use the virtual machines in this virtual computing cluster to access Windows (or Mac) software from your Mac computer, Windows computer, or iPad/Android tablet — most any computing device that offers a supported web browser.

Using this strategy, you don’t install any software on your computer. Instead, you use your web browser to connect to a remotely-located server which enables you to use a Windows virtual machine with many of the applications that you may need installed.


The advantage of using this strategy is that it is easy to setup and use. No software needs to be installed on your computer.


But the tradeoffs are:

  • This virtual machine is only available when you are connected to the web.
  • Your experience using the applications in the virtual environment may be affected by the connection bandwidth available.
    • The responsiveness will typically not be as fast as having the software loaded onto your own computer.
    • And if you have a slow or weak internet connection, the response may feel sluggish.
  • This virtual machine is pre-configured to a pre-determined set of applications. You don’t have the ability to install new apps or charge the configuration.

Accessing the Apporto virtual machines

To access these virtual machines:

Working with your files on the virtual machine

When using the Windows virtual machine, you’ll need to be intentional about choosing where files are stored:

  • When you save files on the virtual machine, they will be stored in a special shared folder associated with your SUNet ID that will be available whenever you login to an Apporto virtual machine.
  • To store a local copy — which is always a smart choice — use the Download or Upload buttons in the Apporto window’s toolbar to copy files to or from your local computer.
  • Or, even better, upload your files to a cloud-based drive (like your Google Drive or Autodesk Construction Cloud folder), so they’ll always be available to you from any computer on the web.

You cannot update the software installed

Keep in mind that your ability to install new software or reconfigure the virtual machine has been restricted by the administrators of this system.

If you need to customize the environment for your work, you’ll need to install Windows or a Windows virtual environment on your computer.