Iain Cameron, 18 March 2020 

Rachel Banks, 08 July 2020 

Kayleigh Thompson, 07 September 2020


If you are using a University of Aberdeen provisioned Windows PC, a service called "Direct Access" (DA) on it makes your laptop think that is on-campus when it is connected to the internet.


This service is what allows you to access your networked drives and other University resources that would otherwise only be accessible from on-campus.


How do I know if Direct Access isn’t working? 


Common symptoms of a Direct Access problem are: 

  • network drives (your HOME and shared drives) can’t be accessed
  • you can’t view any University web-pages (http://abdn.ac.uk/ sites)
  • certain software may stop working 

You can also check to see if Direct Access is working by: 

  • clicking on the wireless network icon on your taskbar
  • checking above the list of available networks to the top of the menu where it should say “UoA Connection X” (where X may be 1, 2, 3 or 4)
     


If the text below “UoA Connection X” says “Connecting…” rather than “Connected,” or if the space is blank, then it often means that Direct Access is not working.


What to do about it 


Before doing anything else, make sure that your laptop is connected to the internet. If connected via wifi, get as strong and reliable a signal as you can get - for example by moving closer to your home router.


Run the 'Map UoA Shares' shortcut


The Map UOA Shares desktop shortcut on your University device will allow you to reconnect your network drives and fileshares. 


  • Double click on the shortcut  
  • A command prompt window will appear on your taskbar
  • Once this has disappeared open File Explorer to check if network drives have appeared. 



Complete Windows Updates 


The most common cause of Direct Access issues is missing updates. If you have any pending Windows updates, this can interfere with Direct Access.


Check for updates in your laptop’s Software Center: 

  • go to your Start menu 
  • type "software" (without quote marks)
  • when the result "Software Center" shows, click it to launch
  • in the new window which opens, on the "Available Software" tab, select SHOW – “Updates” 
  • select all available updates and click “INSTALL” at the bottom-right of the window
  • follow any prompts to restart your PC as part of the update process. 


Please do install all updates, even if they take time. More updates may be found following a reboot, so please repeat the steps above if so.


Reboot your laptop 


It’s an IT cliché, but sometimes your laptop just needs to be rebooted.  We advise to do two reboots in a row.  


  • restart the laptop via your Start menu 
     
  • when presented with the login screen, wait until the wifi network has connected (check the  icon showing in the bottom right of the log in screen – are you connected to your home internet connection?)
  • once connected, sign in as normal
  • wait a few minutes after login, so that Direct Access can finish connecting, then
  • check if network drives are visible and accessible in File Explorer, and try browsing http://abdn.ac.uk/ sites
  • if the reboot triggers a notification about updates, please complete the updates and then repeat the steps above.


Log out, then back in 


Sometimes your laptop can start too quicklyso that you are able to log into the PC before it has been able to join your home network, and Direct Access is unable to run in time.


If you’ve tried checking for updates and rebooting your device, and the problem persists, try the following: 

  • sign out of (don’t Restart) your device 
    (go Start > User account icon > Sign out)
  • wait until the wifi network has connected (check the  icon showing in the bottom right of the log in screen) then
  • sign back in as normal
  • wait a few minutes after login, so that Direct Access can finish connecting, then
  • check if network drives are visible and accessible in File Explorer, and try browsing http://abdn.ac.uk/ sites.


Workarounds for when the fixes don’t work 


If the above solutions do not work, we have a few workarounds you can use to access your resources in the meantime: 


Manual access using File Explorer 


Even if your shares don’t show in File Explorer, they may still be accessible. 

  • open File Explorer and enter \\uoa\global in the address bar.  
     
  • if you can get to “Global” then Direct Access is working – your shares just haven’t mapped
  • navigate through the file structure to find the shared folders you need to access
  • if you know the full filepath of the folder you need – e.g. \\uoa\global\folder1\subfolder2 - you can enter this into the address bar and get to it directly


VPN for Drive access 


You can use the VPN service (https://remote.abdn.ac.uk/) to get access to your HOME drive (and Shared drives, if your account has been configured to do so).


VDI for Share and Website access 


Use the VDI (https://vdi.abdn.ac.uk/to access web sites, HOME and shared drives, and other “on-campus only” resources.


University Website access 


If Direct Access is not working, you won’t be able to access abdn.ac.uk websites. You can try turning Direct Access off altogether to bypass this issue:

  • click the wireless network icon  on the Task Bar
  • in the menu which pops up, click UoA Connection X
  • in the new window, click UoA Connection X again
  • an option to "Disconnect" should appear
  • click "Disconnect" to select this option, then try again to access abdn websites.


It’s still not working! 


If none of the above solutions help, please gather “log files” which will help us do further trouble-shooting: 

  • click on the wireless network icon  on the Task Bar
  • in the menu which pops up, click UoA Connection X 
  • in the new window, click Collect
  • the log file will be created silently – you won’t see it on-screen – and will be saved to C:\Users\your username\AppData\Local\Temp
  • find the file by
    • copy-pasting the following text into your Start menu:

      C:\Users\your username\AppData\Local\Temp

    • type over “your username” with your own username – e.g. if your username was s01js7, the text would read C:\Users\s01js7\AppData\Local\Temp
    • your Start menu will offer you a “File folder” result
    • click to open
    • in this folder look for the most recent file – should have “DirectAccess Logs” in the name