Use your own laptop
You are expected to use your own laptop for computer practicals. Utrecht University has provided SolisWorkSpace for this purpose. A facility where much of the software that you will need as a student can be accessed anytime and everywhere. As soon as you have received your Solis-id and password, you can use these educational applications, including during computer practicals.
Some software for specific courses cannot be installed in SolisWorkSpace, due to technical reasons or because of licences. In that case you will need to install the software on your own laptop. You will be given further instructions on how to do this before the start of your course.
If a course uses heavy educational applications, or applications with specific licensing requirements, the computer practical will be given in a computer room. In this case you do not need to bring your own laptop.
FAQ use your own laptop
How do I know if I need to bring a laptop to the computer practical?
You will be informed about this by your lecturer via the course guide, Blackboard or in person during the preceding lecture. Make sure your laptop is ready for use before the first computer practical. You will find instructions on the Manuals-page.
Do I need to bring my laptop to the introduction week?
In the programme for the introduction week you can see if (and when) you need to bring your laptop.
Will there still be computer rooms available?
You will need to bring your laptop for most computer practicals. Teaching that makes use of heavy educational applications and calculation models will be given in computer rooms.
What are the recommended specifications if I am buying a new laptop?
For computer practicals, we recommend a laptop with at least the following specifications:
|Processor||Intel i5 (or equivalent e.g. AMD||Intel i7|
|Memory||8GB||16GB or >|
Preferenced is 256GB SSD
|Screen||15'', 24bit colours (Open GL 2.0 fitted)|
|Network||Wifi networkcard fit for 5Ghz band (dual band) and ethernet LAN|
|Mouse||Separate mouse with left and right and turning wheel|
|Operating system||Windows 10 64 bit|
|Software||Microsoft Office 365 (free)|
Make sure you also have a recent version of a good anti-virus program and an anti-malware program on your laptop. You can purchase a combined version of this software. If you already have a laptop with Windows 10, you do not need a new anti-virus and anti-malware program.
Do I need to buy the laptop from a specific supplier?
No, you are free to choose which supplier you want to buy a laptop from. However, some hardware suppliers offer a discount to students, so we advise you to check this out.
Will the recommended specifications stay the same throughout my degree programme?
The recommended minimum specifications should be sufficient for the computer practicals throughout your degree programme.
Are the recommended specifications the same for every degree programme?
Yes, the specifications are the same for all the degree programmes in the Faculty of Geosciences.
I have had a laptop for quite some time, do I need to buy a new one?
In most cases the educational applications you need for the computer practicals will also work on an older laptop. You can check at home before the start of the computer practicals whether the required educational applications actually work on your laptop. If the necessary educational application doesn’t work properly on your old laptop, you can borrow a laptop for the computer practical from the Facilities Centre in the Educatorium and Koningsberger building. Laptops can be loaned for one day at a time.
Can I take part in a computer practical with any kind of laptop?
In principle any laptop that runs Windows 10 (or Windows 11) is suitable for taking part in the computer practical. There is however no guarantee that the necessary educational applications will run on every laptop (for example older laptops). So make sure you test this on your laptop before the computer practical.
You can also use a Mac for the computer practical. However, a Windows laptop is preferred because Utrecht University makes extensive use of Microsoft products.
How can I check whether my laptop is suitable for my computer practicals?
If you have your Solis-id and password, you can prepare your laptop for use of SolisWorkSpace (see the instructions). If you start an application at SolisWorkSpace and you see 'HTML5client' in the URL bar of your browser, then Citrix is not properly installed. If you do not see 'HTML5client', this means your Citrix is properly installed. If you need to install software on your laptop yourself for a specific course, we advise you to test this software before the first computer practical.
Can I use a tablet or smartphone for my computer practicals?
No, it is not (yet) possible to take part in the computer practical using a tablet or smartphone.
Can I also use a Mac for my computer practicals?
Most of the software you will use for the computer practicals is available via SolisWorkSpace. You can use MyWorkplace with a Mac as well as a Windows laptop. However, for specific courses you will need to run local software on your Mac. Sometimes this software is only available in a Windows version. In this case you will need extra software on your Mac to be able to run Windows applications (a Windows licence in combination with either Apple’s 'Boot Camp' or virtualisation software such as Parallels (available via Surfspot.nl).
You can use a Mac for the computer practical. However, a Windows laptop is preferred because Utrecht University makes extensive use of Microsoft products.
How can I check that my laptop meets the recommended specifications?
You can check the hardware and software specifications of your laptop under the systems information. How to find this varies per operating system. In Windows 10 for example, go to the Start Menu and select 'System Information', then 'System'.
I have forgotten my laptop. What should I do?
If you have forgotten your laptop, you can borrow a laptop provided you are a student of Utrecht University. You must return this loaned laptop at the end of the day. Possibly you can ask a fellow student if you can look over their shoulder this time, depending on the nature of the computer practical. And of course if this is not a hindrance to him/her.
My laptop is broken. What should I do?
You are personally responsible for the support of your hardware and any repairs to your laptop. One way to do this could be to arrange a guarantee when purchasing the laptop.
Do you have problems accessing the IT facilities of the UU, such as WiFi, SolisWorkspace or printing? You can contact an IT Service Point of the UU with these kinds of IT problems. At the Utrecht Science Park (USP) it is located in the Educatorium building next to the reception.
I don’t have a laptop and I don’t have enough money to buy one. What should I do?
We feel it is important that everyone should have good access to higher education, regardless of their financial situation. For this reason, there are laptops available to loan for students who cannot afford to buy a laptop and we are also exploring the possibility of setting up a repayment plan on friendly terms.
How do I find a laptop to loan?
Requests to borrow a laptop (chromebook) are submitted via FSC self service portal. In this portal, follow this path: Home > Education & Student Affairs > Software/Applications > New Notification. You can collect the loan laptop before the computer practical at the Facilities Centre in the Educatorium and Koningsberger building. You should return the loaned laptop after the computer practical, on the same day.
What happens if my loan laptop gets damaged or lost?
This depends on the situation. Each situation will be examined individually to see if you can be held liable for loss, damage or defects.
When working from home
When working from home, a good internet connection is important. A second monitor would also be helpful.
Is there a good internet connection during computer practicals?
The computer-based courses will be scheduled in rooms with no computers but with excellent WiFi facilities. As a result, you will be able to make uninterrupted use of your laptop and the teaching application during the computer practical. You can log in to the 'Utrecht University' network for fast internet with your e-mail address and password. Please find instructions to connect at manuals.uu.nl.
Can I charge my laptop during the computer practical?
Computer practicals are scheduled in working group rooms which in principle have sufficient electrical sockets for you to charge your laptop. However, we cannot guarantee that you will always be able to access an electrical socket as the availability depends on how many students want to use them at the same time. For this reason you should always make sure that your laptop is already charged when you come to the computer practical.
How can I print documents at Utrecht University?
Read the instructions for printing via the university's network.
What is the best way to save documents?
You can always (whether you use SolisWorkSpace or locally installed software) save your files on your local drive. If you are working in SolisWorkSpace, you can also save files on a drive in SolisWorkSpace. In any case we advise that after your computer practical you copy (or transfer) your files to your Onedrive (which you can access as a student at Utrecht University) so that you know for sure that all your documents are saved together in a clear and orderly manner.
Do I need to purchase software myself?
Most educational applications are available free of charge via SolisWorkspace. A range of other software will also be available to you free of charge during your study programme, including Microsoft 365 Pro Plus (Teams, Onedrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint). You can find more information at https://students.uu.nl/en/free-software. To purchase anti-virus and anti-malware programs, please visit www.surfspot.nl.
Can I start using SolisWorkSpace right away?
To be able to use SolisWorkSpace properly you first need to install the Citrix Workspace App on your laptop. It is important that you do this before the start of your first computer practical as the lecturer will not have allocated any installation time during the first practical. Read the SolisWorkSpace instructions for making your laptop ready for use.
Can I install the Citrix Workspace App myself?
Read the SolisWorkSpace instructions for installing the Citrix Workspace App on your laptop.
Where can I get help for setting up Wi-Fi, MyWorkplace and installing standard software?
If you have any questions about installing Wi-Fi, MyWorkplace, printers and standard software, please contact the IT Service Desk (the Utrecht University IT department). They provide as much support as possible to students via the IT service desks, WhatsApp, email or by phone. Ultimately as a student you are responsible for your laptop. If IT cannot solve your problem, you will have to seek help elsewhere, for example your hardware supplier. New students can also ask for help during the introduction week. Try to have everything set up on your laptop before the introduction week, as during this week there will be several opportunities to speak to staff who can help you with any IT problems you may have encountered. You will get more information about this from your degree programme.
How can I prevent arm, neck and shoulder complaints while using my laptop?
Lengthy use of your laptop could lead to physical problems. If you regularly work on your laptop outside the computer practicals, you may be at risk. So it is important that you use an appropriate sedentary work method (see tips). For computer practicals longer than two hours, the lecturers will plan a break in the teaching to give you sufficient opportunity to change position.
How can I prevent my laptop from being stolen?
- Conceal your laptop
Rather than carrying your laptop around in a professional laptop bag, you could use an ordinary laptop bag or backpack. Never leave your laptop laying around unattended.
- Label everything
Label your laptop and bag clearly with your name and address. This increases the chances of your laptop being returned to you should you lose it.
- Recognise your own laptop
Make sure you can recognise your own laptop and can prove that it is actually yours. For example by making a note of the serial number or taking a photograph (at least one photo of a distinguishing feature such as the serial number, a conspicuous scratch, ...)
- Tracking software for your laptop
Track your device after it has been stolen or lost. Maintain control of your personal data. The following software may help you here:
- Windows 10, MacOSX, Linux, iOS, Android: Prey OpenSource software (download)
- MacOSX: Find my device (recommended, standard in iCloud)
How can I increase the battery time of my laptop?
- Choose an energy-saving power plan
- Dim the screen
- Shorten the time between the screen dimming and turning off
- Disconnect or remove unnecessary peripherals
- Disable PC cards and integrated wireless (Bluetooth) devices
How can I increase the IT security of my laptop?
As soon as your computer is connected to a network or comes into contact with new software in any other way (USB stick, CD/DVD), it is at risk of being infected with viruses, malware, spamware. Always install official versions of software and make sure you get them from the actual manufacturer (not via other sites). Be careful when opening attachments from unknown senders (and sometimes from senders you do know). Even Office documents can contain viruses. Use an antivirus program: Microsoft Security Essentials. From Windows 10, Security Essentials is integrated in Windows Defender.
Keep your Firewall switched on. A firewall is software or hardware that checks incoming information from the internet or any other network and then either blocks it or allows it onto your computer depending on your firewall settings. In this way a firewall can help prevent hackers and malicious software from gaining access to your computer. Windows Firewall is built into Windows and is on by default.
Windows contains the built-in anti-spyware program Windows Defender that is on by default. From Windows 10 it also contains the standard antivirus software.
- Windows updates
Microsoft regularly releases important updates for Windows to protect to your computer against new viruses and other security risks. To receive these updates as quickly as possible, switch on the automatic update function.