Laptop Loans from Kiosks

Campus kiosks offer free loaner laptops for check out by students. Only a valid, active Columbia University ID card is needed. No reservation is required; the loaner laptops are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

To check out a laptop, simply tap the Checkout button on the kiosk's display, agree to the Terms and Conditions, swipe your Columbia ID card and remove the laptop. Laptops can be borrowed for up to 5 hours, and must be returned to the kiosk where it was originally checked out.


To use a loaner laptop simply power it on and begin working. It will automatically connect to the secure Mercury network when in range of campus wireless locations.

IMPORTANT: the loaner laptops completely erase any data saved to the hard drive on restart or shut down.
When working on the laptop, please save your files to external media such as a USB key or online storage such as your network drive, rather than on the laptop itself. We highly recommend doing this periodically while working to ensure that any recent changes you have made are saved in the event that the laptop encounters an error and must restart.


All laptops run Windows 10 with managed Symantec Endpoint Protection and the following programs installed:

Office 2019 - Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access, OneNote, Publisher
  • Adobe Reader DC
  • ArcGIS 10.3.1
  • Aperio ImageScope
  • Atlas TI v.5.2
  • Chrome
  • Citrix Workspace 1912
  • Edge
  • Endnote X9
  • ExamSoft - Examplify
  • Firefox (Frontmotion)
  • Flash Player & Plugin
  • Internet Explorer
  • iTunes
  • Java
  • NetLogo 4.3.1
  • NVivio 12
  • Pharos Printing
  • Pigdin
  • Putty
  • R 3.4.1 for Windows
  • RStudio 1.0.153
  • SAS 9.4
  • 7-Zip
  • Shockwave
  • Skype
  • SPSS 28
  • Stata 15
  • Stellar
  • TurningPoint Cloud
  • WinSCP
  • Windows Media Player

Returning the Laptop

Laptops should be returned to the same kiosk from which they were checked out within 5 hours of check out. Currently there is no fee for late returns, but we do ask for everyone's cooperation to make sure they are available to others when not in use. If a laptop is kept for an extended period we may need to contact your school or department and eventually request payment to replace a missing laptop. Power cords cannot be checked out with the laptop, and fully charged battery time for a loaned laptop will run out after approximately 4 to 5 hours. Once a laptop is checked back in to the kiosk, it will take about an hour to charge and cannot be checked out during this time.

Terms and Conditions

Terms and conditions must be agreed upon when checking out the laptop. Settings and configurations on loaner laptops must not be changed, and charges for damages, lost or stolen laptops will apply. Laptops cannot connect to networks other than Mercury wireless on the CUIMC campus, please do not take equipment off campus.


Can I reserve or check out a laptop for a longer period of time?

In order to make sure laptops are kept available for the entire CUIMC student community, they can only be checked out on a first-come, first-serve basis for a period of 5 hours. You may certainly check out another available laptop from the kiosk if needed.

Are the laptops internet connected?

Loaner laptops have wireless capabilities and will automatically connect to the secure Mercury network when in range of campus wireless locations.

Can I print from the laptop?

Laptops are set up to print to the Pharos system at CUIMC. Note that you must have an MC account and Pharos quota to print, pages can be purchased at the CUIMC IT Service Desk if you do not currently have a quota.

How often should I save my documents or work when using the laptop?

As often as possible to ensure you do not lose any changes or edits. Be sure to save to external media rather than the laptop's hard drive even as you are working; if the laptop encounters an issue and restarts itself all user data that was saved to the hard drive will be erased.

Can others see files I've saved on the laptop?

When the laptop is restarted it is re-imaged; returned to its original state with any changes including files saved on the hard drive erased.

Can I use CDs, DVDs, and USB keys (flash drives) with the laptop?

There are USB ports on the laptop, simply connect or insert the key or flash drive to use. Laptops do not have disc drives so CDs, DVDs, and disc burning cannot be used.

Can I plug in or recharge the laptop?

Laptops can only be charged at the kiosk; power cords are not available for check out. Do not attempt to attach another computer's power cord to the laptop as this may cause irreversible damage.

What should I do if the laptop isn't functioning properly?

Please call us at 5-Help (212-305-4357), option 5, or come by the Service Desk TechBar located in the Hammer Building LL1-118.

What if the laptop gets a virus?

Save any work you need to an external location such as a USB key (be sure to scan externally saved files as soon as possible in case they are also infected), and restart the laptop. This will restore the laptop to its original state (re-image), and permanently remove any viruses or malware. Laptops are re-imaged whenever they restart and prior to every checkout, guaranteeing that they are virus free before use.