These are general instructions for Columbia users to connect to our VPN and open a remote desktop session to their workstations.


Remote access requires:

  1. Opening a VPN connection between your personal computer and the Columbia network
  2. Launching a remote screen viewing application to connect to a view of your computer


Prerequisites for access are:

  1. You must have been provided a VPN username and password. Keep these as safe and secure and do not share with others. Note - you should not be using other employees' login information to connect through VPN.
  2. You will have had to have installed a VPN client application on your home computer and imported your VPN profile (for those who have been provided a College device like a laptop, this will be done for you).
  3. You must know the “hostname” of your computer (often written as a sticker/label on your computer. The Computer’s IP address will also work). (Click How do I find the name of my computer?)
  4. Your computer must have been configured to allow your specific account to remotely login to your computer.



How to Connect to the VPN and Remotely Access your Workstation

  1. Launch the VPN client you installed on your computer (Named “Mobile VPN with SSL Client” in your Start Menu)
  2. In the connect window, enter as follows:
    1. Server =
    2. Username = Your VPN Username
    3. Password = Your VPN Password
  3. Click “Connect”
  4. You may get an untrusted SSL warning, this is expected. Click “Yes” to proceed
  5. After about 30 seconds, you should now be connected to Columbia’s VPN, the Mobile VPN with SSL Client app will add an icon to your tray (towards lower right, might be folded with other tray items), this will turn green when connected.
  6. Now you must open Microsoft’s Remote Desktop application. Find and open your “Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection” app. (OR: Press Windows Key + r and enter mstsc, then click enter)
  7. In the Remote Desktop Connection app, enter the name of your workstation. You may need to add “” to the end of the name. Your username will be your regular Columbia login, but you might have to have “columbia\” in front of it, such as “columbia\smithj”. If your computer is on and the prerequisites are met, you can now connect completely.


How to Disconnect from the VPN

The main thing is to log out from your computer. You very likely do not want to shut it down as this will prevent you from being able to do a remote desktop connection in the future. If you click on the start button, in the menu that opens, there will be a person icon above the Start icon that you can click on and select “Sign out”. It appears towards the bottom left in the example below:

A screen shot of a computer

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This doesn’t actually disconnect you from the VPN. Please disconnect if you’re not using it, otherwise all your computer’s network traffic will continue to be directed through Columbia’s VPN. Find the Mobile VPN with SSL icon towards the bottom right, right-click it and disconnect (similar to below):

A screenshot of a cell phone

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