This page describes various computing resources offered either by the department or otherwise accessible through McGill.

PROBE (Department file server)

PROBE is the departmental file server. It is a computer system run by the department where each BME staff member and student may have a limited amount of storage space to store files during their stay at BME.

To gain access to PROBE please request an application form at the reception desk.

(BME staff: The computer account request form is available here: S:\Biomed\BMED\Services-Technical\Forms .)


Two drives, Q: and S:, are setup with PROBE whenever you log into a workstation (*); that is, the drives are 'mapped' to PROBE via the computer network.

Drive Desciption
Q: is your home directory (i.e., your personal storage space.) Only yourself and the PROBE administrators have access to it.
S: is the so-called 'share drive'; it is intended to facilitate file sharing between colleagues. Each lab has its own directory and use of the directory is lab specific. See your lab supervisor for details. File access permissions on folders within this drive may be customized.

Because Q: and S: are mapped network drives they are available to you regardless of the machine you use (*). You may also setup access to these drives from machines not on Active Directory, outside of the department and laptops. Follow the instructions indicated in File Access from Outside the Department.

(*): Provided that the computer is configured to be on Microsoft's Active Directory, as is the case for most workstations permanently connected to a network jack.

Computer Desktop Redirection

A workstation on Active Directory may have been configured to redirect a user's desktop to PROBE. This means that your computer desktop (including, but not limited to, the My Documents folder) is kept on PROBE rather than on the workstation. This allows your desktop to follow you when you use a different workstation that has been configured to redirect user desktops.


PROBE is backed-up nightly. Hence, the Q: and S: drives and your desktop are backed-up. Individual workstations are not backed-up.

File Access via the Wireless Network

Follow the instructions indicated in File Access from Outside the Department.

File Access from Outside the Department

To access your files on PROBE from outside of the department one needs to:

  • Launch a VPN (Virtual Private Network) session.
  • Manually map a drive letter to PROBE. (To map your home directory knowledge of your McGill short username is required.)

VPN: For instructions on setting up VPN see the McGill IT web site External link and search for "VPN".

McGill short username: McGill short usernames are assigned by McGill IT Services. The McGill short username is a name that contains the first letter of a user's first name, part of their family name, and an optional number. (E.g., John Milsum might have jmilsu as a short username.)

  • You may use Minerva External link to determine your McGill short username. In Minerva go to Personal Menu > Create/Change McGill Password.
  • Alternatively, when at the department you may use your Q: drive to determine your McGill short username by clicking on My Computer, as illustrated in the figure shown below.

Short user name via Windows explorer

Mapping a Drive Letter

Search the web for instructions on how to map a network folder or network share in your operating system.

The folder paths for the Q: an S: drives are given in the following table. (Of course, you may manually map a drive using a drive letter of your choice.)

Drive Folder or Network Share to map
Q: \\\biomedusers\<McGill short username>
( Example: John Milsum would use \\\biomedusers\jmilsu )
S: \\\probeshare


If you experience trouble mapping a drive debug the problem as follows.

VPN: If you cannot establish a VPN session contact the McGill IT Help Desk External link.

Mapping a drive: If you cannot map the drive try the following debugging steps,

  • Open My Computer
  • Type \\ in the Address bar and execute

The above should either open a login screen or open a window showing some files on PROBE. If it does not,

  • Open My Computer
  • Type \\ in the Address bar and execute

If you still get an error message then contact the services-bme [at] Otherwise use whichever address works. Note that once the window to PROBE opens you may browse down to your home directory.

Quota Limits

Each user is provided with 5GB of storage space on PROBE. This includes files stored on the Q: drive as well as spaced taken up by the roaming profile (which is used, for one, to store files on your desktop). Please adopt the practice of managing your files to avoid wasting storage.

Many labs have additional storage space on PROBE that is individually managed by the lab. Speak with your lab director to see whether your lab has such storage space.

Recovering Deleted Files

To recover deleted files from backup send a request to McGill IT Help Desk External link.

In your request include the following information:

  • The computer system involved:
  • The location of the file/directory to restore. Use the following table to specify equivalent locations on PROBE for the "Q:" and "S:" drives.
    Drive Specify equivalent location on PROBE
    Q: D:\biomed\users\<McGill short username>
    ( Example: John Milsum would specify Q:\document.txt as D:\biomed\users\jmilsu\document.txt
    S: E:\probeshare
  • The last known date that the file/directory was on PROBE.

Public Computer

There is a public computer in the Electronic Workshop intended for general, short-term use. You may log into this machine using the same user name and password that you use to log into your workstation in your lab. The computer has the following software installed on it:

  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Corel DRAW
  • Microsoft Office

Super Computing (Calcul Québec)

Calcul Québec’s supercomputers, located in various universities, are available to researchers from across Quebec and Canada. For more information see their web site External link.

Help Desk

  • Report problems concerning the department's public computer to services-bme [at]
  • Other requests for help should be directed to MedIT.


Email is a centralized service managed by McGill IT Services. Please see the McGill IT web page External link for general information and instructions on how to setup an email reader.

You are encouraged to use the Exchange Server email facility as it provides a unified environment to manage your email, contacts, calendar, and more. Moreover, you will be able to access these features via the web. Everybody at McGill has a mailbox on the Exchange server.

Light bulb

Students should strongly consider listing their email address in the Exchange GAL (global address list.) There are two reasons for this.

  • The Exchange GAL is the primary means by which administrative staff can lookup your email address. By not being listed in the GAL you make it difficult for staff to contact you.
  • In order to be able to setup Outlook as an Exchange Server client you need to be listed in the Exchange GAL.

Staff are listed in the Exchange GAL (global address list) by default.

Note: When an email is sent within the Exchange platform (say, via Outlook setup as an Exchange client) to another user with an Exchange mailbox the email is deposited directly into the recipient's Exchange mailbox. There is no way of redirecting the email. As such, if you do not at least check your Exchange mailbox you may be missing out on some email.

Network Jacks

Though McGill IT Services manages the campus computer network, requests for LAN jack installation, activation, etc., are handled at the department level. Please contact services-bme [at] for your computer jack needs.



MATLAB is available for stand-alone installation for faculty, staff, and active Post Doctoral Fellows. Licenses are available through McGill Campus Site Licenses and are obtained individually.

BME students and labs may obtain access to "concurrent" MATLAB, where the computer running MATLAB needs to maintain a network connection to borrow a license from our MATLAB license server. (You may run MATLAB off-campus provided that you first launch a VPN session.) If you wish to use MATLAB under these conditions:

  • Send a request to services-bme [at] asking for MATLAB access.
  • Include your McGill short user name.
  • Include the name of your supervisor.
  • Indicate whether or not you have access to PROBE.
  • Wait for notification that you have been granted access to the MATLAB license server and, if necessary, to PROBE. You will also be provided with installation instructions.

Microsoft Products

McGill IT Services provides Office 365 ProPlus at no charge to all students, and eligible faculty and staff members. This allows eligible people to install several MS Office applications on personal devices. See McGill IT KB article 5172 External link for additional information.

Other Products

McGill also has volume licenses for other software, offering a substantial price saving when compared to the commercial retail price. See Software available at McGill External link for details.

Wireless Networking

Wireless access is a centralized service managed by McGill IT Services. Please see the McGill IT web page External link for more information.


For a variety of reasons it is recommended that you do not lock your login session overnight. For instance, system maintenance may be performed overnight and your workstation automatically rebooted! You risk losing any open files.

Automatic Windows Updates

Workstations that are members of Microsoft's Active Directory automatically receive Windows critical patches. As such, your computer may be forced to reboot overnight. (This occurs only when a patch requires a machine reboot to complete installation. Users have no indication whether a patch warrants a machine reboot.) When a critical patch has been installed on your workstation an information bubble pops up from the task bar at your first login after the event.

How updates are managed: McGill IT Services evaluates each patch released by Microsoft and selects which ones will be pushed to our workstations for installation.

Connecting to a Network Jack

Computers connected directly to an active network jack receive an automatic IP address.

If a static IP address is required please contact the following:

  • For machines in the Duff Building: services-bme [at]
  • Otherwise, please contact: MedIT.

Joining Active Directory

To add/remove a computer from Active Directory please contact services-bme [at]

By default workstations are put on Active Directory when BME Services connects a computer to a network jack.

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