Requesting administrative access on EWS Windows systems


This article explains the process and reasoning behind admin access restrictions on EWS Windows Systems

This article is specific to EWS Windows systems. For a guideline on requesting sudo access on Engineering IT Linux systems, please see: Requesting administrative (sudo) access on Engineering IT Linux systems

Sometimes instructors or lab managers request administrative access on EWS Windows systems to manage software, accounts, or system-level settings. This access is restricted, and those functions are handled by EWS in most labs for the following reasons:


The EWS labs include a centralized system for software distribution. This provides consistency and repeatability to EWS systems. Software installations and configuration will be identical across all lab systems, including those which are new or freshly-reimaged. One-off, manual software installations can often get overlooked.

Software titles that are centrally packaged and deployed can have their installations automated and can also be easily and quickly leveraged elsewhere in the EWS environment.

If software is needed which is not already available in the EWS environment, please request it early as part of your pre-semester routine; see our Instructor Checklist. Allowing EWS staff the time to centrally package your software pays dividends for you and others who need it in the future. You and your students have likely already benefited from this economy.

If the license permits, we can also make software available as Optional Software in the general college labs so students do not necessarily need to rely on and possibly overcrowd specific departmental labs in order to access specific software.

Accounts and Access

A common reason for administrative access requests is that course staff or TA's have not been added to their relevant course staff groups. If you are the instructor, please use the self-service Instructor Tools to define your course staff. If you are a TA or other course staff, ask the instructor to do this for you.

Configuration / Settings

Many configurations and settings in the EWS Windows environment are configured centrally via a mechanism called Group Policy, which allows for automated configuration of settings across many computers at once. Settings configured this way are reproduced consistently across EWS labs, and even persist if the computer needs to be wiped and reinstalled (re-imaged).


The more consistent a computer is with the rest of the EWS Windows environment, the easier it is for EWS to support, which reduces wait times for everyone. Altering a system through self-management can lead to a number of problems:

  • Filling up disk space by putting large datasets/software in unexpected locations, which can render a system unusable.
  • Loss of data during rebuilds or updates due to putting user data in unexpected locations.
  • Software installs can conflict with existing installations, causing a wide variety of issues.
  • Software installs or outdated software can introduce security vulnerabilities to your system, accounts, and data.

The support EWS can provide to fix a broken system which has been altered by course staff is very limited. In most cases, we will re-image the system.

User feedback is important to us

There is value in the communication we receive about the needs and usage of EWS users. Even simple software requests (e.g. Zoom) grant insights and allow us to proactively model the EWS environment accordingly.

Communication on what does and does not work is very helpful to Engineering IT. Your feedback helps us build better, more usable, and sustainable solutions for everyone.

Exceptions / Requesting administrative access

Although Engineering IT strives to provide the best instructional computing environment possible, we recognize situations may arise where it is necessary to provide administrative rights to instructors or course staff.

Risks / Scope of user administrative access

Be aware of the following risks that come with having administrative access:

  • Administrators have access to all processes and files on the system. This means:
    • An administrator can read and write to files belonging to any other user on the system.
      • Besides privacy concerns, instructors and course staff should be aware of FERPA and other class privacy concerns when storing or accessing information on EWS computers and permitting or requesting administrative access.
      • In particular, this opens the potential for the administrator to see student grade information, if the file(s) are stored locally, which would be a FERPA violation if the administrator is also student.
    • An administrator can kill any process on the computer, or delete any file, which can render the computer unstable or unusable.
    • An administrator can do the administrative tasks listed above outside of Engineering IT's managed environment. These changes:
      • will not be documented or recorded by our managed environment, and will not be reproducible by Engineering IT staff.
      • could conflict with our managed environment and break current or future functionality.
      • could cause data loss.
  • The support EWS can provide to fix a broken system which has been altered by non-Engineering IT administrators is very limited. In most cases, we will re-image the system.
  • Administrative access will only be provided on a case-by-case basis.
  • EWS staff reserve the right to revoke administrative privileges.

Conditions for requesting user administrative access

If after reading the above you believe you have an exceptional case that requires granting of admin privileges, please submit a request here: When submitting the form, please specify “Admin Request” in the subject and specify your course number, the relevant lab, and your reasoning in the appropriate fields.

Making this request does not a guarantee that admin privileges will be granted. Engineering IT staff will exhaust other options and only fall back to this as a last resort.

Keywordsrequesting admin access windows ews   Doc ID108788
OwnerJames H.GroupEngineering IT
Shared Services
Created2021-02-01 18:22:50Updated2024-06-03 13:16:14
SitesUniversity of Illinois Engineering IT
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