Students Staff

Computers and software

Find a computer


To find a computer in any of our IT labs and spaces, check the live PC availability (Colchester Campus only).

Information about our computer and software services including:

To find out about staff computers, including purchasing hardware and software such as computers, printers and accessories, see our IT purchasing information.

Our services

We provide a number of IT labs and computers conveniently located around our campuses, containing Windows computers running a wide range of software. Many spaces stay open till late and some are open 24/7.

Our IT labs are general access and can be used by students and staff members. Labs may be booked by academic departments for teaching through the Timetable Office. Please obey the rules and etiquette when using any of our computers.

Locations and opening times

  • Colchester Campus: 892 PCs

    Lab Room number Total computers Opening times
    Library Square 5 260 See Library website
    Silberrad Student Centre Square 5 80 24/7
    Lab A 5.000 15 24/7
    Lab B 2.403 18 7am-midnight Monday to Friday
    Lab C 4S.5.7 42 24/7
    Lab D 4N.3.9 19 24/7
    Lab E 4N.2.6 18 24/7
    Lab F 3.300 77 24 hours a day, Monday to Friday
    Lab G 4N.4.3 27 24/7
    Lab H 3.403 21 24 hours a day, Monday to Friday
    Lab I 3.402 18 24/7
    Lab J 4SB.4.14 106 7am-midnight Monday to Friday
    Lab K 4S.2.8 38 7am-midnight Monday to Friday
    Lab M 4S.2.4 55 7am-midnight Monday to Friday
    Lab N 5A.101 40 7am-midnight Monday to Friday
    Lab O TC2.16 25 8am-8pm, Monday to Friday
    Lab R TC.2.11 12 8am-8pm, Monday to Friday
    Lab S EBS Trading floor 38 7.30am-8.00pm Monday to Friday

  • Southend Campus: 140 PCs

    The Forum Room number Total computers Opening times
    Open Study Space (OSS) TF.2.53 42 24/7
    iDesks TF.2.50 / TF.2.60 12 24/7
    Innovation Space TF.2.06 5 24/7
    Share Space TF.2.59 4 24/7
    iMac Media Spaces TF.2.09A/B/C 3 24/7
    Reading Space TF.2.07 6 24/7
    Gateway Building Room number Total computers Opening times
    IT Lab 1 GB.3.53 40 7am-10pm Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm Sun
    IT Lab 2 GB.2.34 10 7am-10pm Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm Sun
    iDesks GB.2.01 / GB.3.01 6 7am-10pm Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm Sun
    Student Common Room GB.2.32 3 7am-10pm Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm Sun
    East 15 Open Access GB.5.17 3 7am-10pm Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm Sun
    Clifftown Studios Room number Total computers Opening times
    East 15 Clifftown Lab Seminar J 6 7am-10pm Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm Sun

  • Loughton Campus: 33 PCs

    Lab Room number Total computers Opening times
    E15 Hatfields House 19 N/A
    GRR Roding House 14 N/A

Related information

  • Rules and etiquette

    By logging on to any computer in an IT lab or group study pod, you are agreeing to obey the rules and etiquette that specifically cover the use of the these facilities.

    • These areas are intended for University related work only.
    • No eating or drinking in the IT labs. The exception to this rule is in the group study pods, but please be careful.
    • No alcohol in the IT labs or group study pods.
    • No smoking in the IT labs or group study pods.
    • Do not log in to more than one computer at a time.
    • Do not leave belongings unattended.
    • Do not attempt to alter the computer system in any way or for any purpose. Please note that the computers may restart at approximately 3am. You will receive prior warning to save your work.
    • Obey the instructions of University staff on all matters relating to the IT labs or group study pods.

  • Automatic log off

    If you need to take a quick break from the computer you can lock it whilst you're away. This gives you enough time to take a quick break, for example use the toilet or make a phone call. Locking the computer keeps your work and account safe whilst you're away.

    Whether the computer is locked or not, if you're away or inactive for more than 15 minutes (no mouse or keyboard activity), then the computer will automatically log you off. If that happens, any unsaved changes to open documents may be lost, so please save your work regularly and just before you take a break!

    Any attempt to circumvent the IT security systems is a breach of the guidelines for the use of IT facilities.

  • Support for hardware and software in teaching and learning spaces

    This applies to IT Services supplied hardware and software only.

    Hardware support

    IT Services will:

    • provide hardware support 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
    • fix broken computers within 48 hours
    • dispose of computers
    • not fix a broken computer if there is a class in the room and there is a spare computer - this does not include teacher stations

    Software support

    IT Services will:

    • provide support for core software 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
    • install core software on request (see software request form)
    • assist with the installation of non-core software
    • not support non-core software or operating systems, however, non networked virtual machines can be created if we are supplied with the image to build them

    All non-core software must have a sponsor, who is considered the software ‘owner’. The owner will sign off the installation as fit for purpose. Support for non-core software is provided by the software owner, champion or through a network of approved users, not IT Services.

Students at work in a pod

Our group study pods are designed for small groups who want to share ideas and work collaboratively. In each pod you'll find a Windows computer, projector, writeable wall surfaces and pens. You can also connect your own laptop.

Pods cannot be booked or reserved - they are available on a first come, first served basis and should only be used by groups of three or more.

Locations and opening times

  • Colchester Campus: 31 pods

    Location Number of pods Opening times
    Limehouse 8 7am-midnight Monday to Friday
    Orangery (Zest Cafe) 7 24/7
    Silberrad Student Centre (ground floor) 16 24/7

  • Southend Campus: 17 pods

    Location Number of pods Opening times
    Innovation space (The Forum) 5 24/7
    Share Space (The Forum) 4 24/7
    Open Study Space (The Forum) 6 24/7
    Second floor corridor (Gateway Building) 2 7am-10pm Monday to Saturday, 9am-6pm Sunday

Software Hub - the new home for software at Essex

Access a range of programs from our all-new Software Hub. See our getting started guide if you're using the Software Hub for the first time.

  • About the Software Hub

    The Software Hub is a new software streaming service for all current staff and students that makes it easier to access and use software at Essex.

    The Software Hub replaces the old way of downloading and installing programs from our software catalogue. With the Software Hub you can:

    • Stream software from a web browser at the click of a button, which means no setup files to download or complicated installations to follow.
    • Access programs from anywhere, whether it be your personal or work computer, or in an IT lab. All you need is an internet connection.
    • Search or browse a growing library of over 100 programs including popular titles such as SPSS, EndNote and Stata.
    • Get a tailored view of what’s available for your device.

    Currently the Software Hub can only stream programs to Windows computers. If you’re using a Mac, Android or iOS device, the Software Hub will give you instructions on how to access the program if it’s available.

  • Using the Software Hub for the first time

    See our visual getting started guide or follow the instructions below:

    1. Go to and sign in with your Essex username and password.
    2. Click on It’s my first time using AppsAnywhere on this device. Let’s go – to download the AppsAnywhere client.
    3. Click on the download and install it using the default options. AppsAnywhere will automatically launch launch and install the Cloudpaging player.
    4. Once installed, go back to your web browser and on the Software Hub page click Done.
    5. If prompted, click Allow or Open to let your browser interact with the AppsAnywhere client and select the option remember this preference.
    6. The AppsAnywhere client will open and validate. Once you see a green validation message, you are ready to launch programs from the Software Hub webpage.
    7. Search for a program (top right), hover over it and click on either:
      1. Launch – this will start streaming the program automatically.
      2. Download – this will download the program setup file for you to install manually.
      3. Visit Website – you will be taken to a website where you can download the program or to find more information.
    8. It may take a few minutes for the program to open the first time it is used on a particular computer – the process will be much quicker the next time.

Get Microsoft Office 365 for free

Software information for staff

  • Software installation requests

    If you're a member of staff, you can submit a software installation request form for software to be installed in IT labs or teaching rooms where there is a specific need.

  • Software purchasing

    For information about purchasing software for staff, see IT purchasing.

The HPC Cluster

We provide a specialist high performance computing service.

The service is available to all current staff and students. In exceptional circumstances, access can be granted to external collaborators working with current staff.

You must register for an account before you can use it.

Visit for more information about the service and instructions on how to use it.

Assistive technologies provide essential accessibility to computers for those with significant vision, hearing, dexterity and mobility, language and communication, or learning needs.

If you need further advice or support on assistive technologies and teaching aids, please contact the Student Services Hub who will be happy to advise you.

Available technologies

  • Adjustable monitor arms

    Monitor arms allow you to adjust the height of the computer monitor as well as of the viewing and focal distance from the screen. Positioning the monitor screen at the correct viewing height eliminates strain to the neck and upper back of the user, as well accommodating users seated at different heights, for example in a wheelchair.

    Adjustable monitor arms are available in the following areas:

    • Colchester Campus: at least one computer in most IT labs, Albert Sloman Library (most floors)
    • Southend Campus: at least one computer in IT lab 1, IT lab 2 and in the Open Study Area.
    • Loughton Campus: at least one computer in each of the computing rooms at East 15

  • Screen readers, magnifiers and literacy aids

    Windows Narrator

    Windows Narrator is a basic screen reader that reads what is displayed on the screen, for example the contents of the active window, menu options, or text that has been typed. Narrator is designed to work with Notepad, WordPad, Control Panel programs, and Internet Explorer. It also allows users to customize the way screen elements are read.

    • Available on all Windows computers.
    • To access, click Start → and then search for Narrator.

    JAWS Screen Reader

    Jaws is highly specialised screen reader which features advanced spell checking, homophones support, word prediction and thesaurus. You will need to bring your own headphones to make use of the audio features of this package.

    TextHELP! Read & Write Gold

    TextHELP! Read & Write software aims to assist users with dyslexia or other difficulties which affect their English reading and writing abilities. It is a vocabulary support package which talks, types, checks spellings, and can even predict what the user wishes to type.

    It can be used with word processors, spreadsheets, databases, email and Internet. It provides a simple toolbar that "floats" on top of any open application waiting to provide assistance when called upon. You will need to bring your own headphones to make use of the audio features of this package.

    • Available in all IT labs.
    • Site license.
    • To access, click StartAll ProgramsAccessibilityTextHELP!.

  • Visual aids, graphic and drawing tools


    SmartDraw is a graphics tool that assists users with mobility difficulties to create vector graphics with ease, for example business charts, technical drawings, and other diagrams.

    • Available in all IT labs.
    • Limited to 10 concurrent users.

    Inspiration 9

    Inspiration is an organisational and study skills tool that helps students learn to think. Students can use Inspiration to create a visual map of ideas using pictures, colours, shapes and relationships. Inspiration is especially useful for students with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia.

    • Available in all IT labs.
    • Limited to 10 concurrent users.

  • Microsoft Ease of Access Center

    In the Windows Ease of Access Center, you'll find quick access for setting up the accessibility settings and programs included in Windows, and other tools including Magnifier, Narrator and On-Screen Keyboard.

    • Available on all Windows computers.
    • To access, click StartControl PanelEase of Access Center.