Portal features


My Virtual Machines, My Accounts and My Projects


The DataLab portal is where you find information about your DataLab account, projects, and virtual machines.

DataLab portal

The DataLab portal displays information in three tiles: 

  • My Virtual Machines to activate, start and launch the VM associated with your project
  • My Account to view your personal contact information and the virtual machines you have access to
  • My Projects to view basic attributes of the project as well as users in each project

Left navigator menu
The left navigator menu is open by default and has shortcuts that can be used to navigate between pages when you are not on the home page. Click the arrow to collapse or expand the navigator menu.

Left navigator menu

Returns you to the DataLab portal home page where the three tiles are displayed.

My Projects, My Virtual Machines and My Account 

These are shortcuts to the tiles on the home page.

Action Log 

Keeps a record of your portal actions. This can help you manage your sessions and provides useful information if you encounter problems with the system. It includes:

  • starting VM
  • stopping VM
  • changing your Active VM
  • restarting VM
  • rebuilding VM
Global links

The links at the top right are available from all pages of the portal:

Your obligations and management responsibilities

The Responsible Use of ABS Microdata obligations guide helps you understand your obligations and management responsibilities to handle microdata safely. Read the guide and contact microdata.access@abs.gov.au if you would like any help understanding your responsibilities.

Important messages banner

This banner appears at the top of your DataLab portal window when we have an important message for your consideration or action.

Functions in My Virtual Machines

By selecting either the My Virtual Machines tile or laptop icon you can view your virtual machines. You have one virtual machine for each project you are approved for.

Accessing your virtual machine using the my virtual machine tile or the laptop icon

All your virtual machines are listed in a table with details about each machine. You can export this table as a spreadsheet or filter the display by using the quick search feature.

List of your virtual machines
  • Name is your project number followed by random letters, providing a unique name that is assigned to your profile. This is also a link to the management options for that VM.
  • Build date is the date we assigned you to that project.
  • Type describes the size of machine you will be using. The size allocated to you depends on the amount of data you have access to.
  • Status: don't activate a virtual machine when its status is Building or Dormant, wait until the status has changed to Ready
  • Power State shows if the machine has been started.
  • Active indicates which machine is currently active. A VM must be active before you can start it.
  • Local Disk (GB) shows if you have been allocated extra space for running jobs on offline VMs.

Use the Change active VM button to swap between projects. The virtual machine must show a green tick in the Active column before you start the VM. VMs that are Dormant must be rebuilt before they can be made Active.

VM management options

When you have selected the VM associated with your project, click the Name link to see the management options.

If your VM is Dormant, no management options are available.

VM management options when VM is dormant

Select Rebuild now which prompts a confirmation message, selecting yes to proceed. Rebuilding takes 45 minutes to complete and can be monitored for success from the Action Log.

When your VM is active, the management options are able to be selected again.

VM management options when VM is active

Steps to launch this Virtual Machine workflow process flow illustrates where you are up to when you launch your workspace.

Basic Attributes

  • Name is your project number followed by random letters, providing a unique name that is assigned to your profile.
  • Project profile is a link to the project details page (also accessible from My Project tile)
  • Status of the project (Building, Ready or Destroyed)
  • Date registered is the date we created your project profile
  • Date destroyed is the date the VM was removed from the system
  • VM option type is the size of machine available to you (small, medium, large or x-large). The size assigned depends on the amount of data attached to your project
  • Activated indicates if the VM is ready to be started
  • Local Disk (GB) shows if you have been allocated extra space for running jobs on offline VMs

Power State: You can start, stop, or restart the VM. This can be helpful if swapping between virtual machines or having difficulties seeing your machine in the Citrix workspace.

For non-standard machines, you will continue to incur system costs until you click Stop VM (or until the next scheduled shutdown).

Power State for the VM

Scheduled Shutdown: Virtual Machines are automatically shutdown every night at 10pm AEST. If you have a program running that you expect to run past 10pm, you can choose to extend your session for up to 3 days by selecting Bypass shutdown.

Bypass shutdown
Options for extending your VM session
Confirming the extension of your VM session

Scheduled Rebuild: VMs are automatically destroyed and rebuilt every 30 days for security and maintenance purposes:

  • you cannot extend this time
  • it displays a date and numbered count down on a coloured bar, adjusted the time in your local area
  • the coloured bar changes colour, starting with green, moving to orange, and finally red as you get closer to the rebuild date
  • you can choose to rebuild before the schedule time by selecting Rebuild now
  • after rebuilding the count down resets to 30 days and allows you to bypass the nightly shutdown
  • if you try to bypass a shutdown when your machine is scheduled for a rebuild, the system will deny the action, but offer to Rebuild now
Scheduled Rebuild

Run jobs on offline VMs

If you are an analyst who works across multiple projects, you can request local disk space. This will enable your VM to run jobs offline.

Datasets are stored on a remote file share. Only the active machine has network access to this location. Your inactive virtual machines do not. To run offline jobs, you need to request local disk space to be attached to your machine. There may be a cost associated with this.

When running jobs offline, the inactive machine can continue to run your program as it still has access to the data since it is no longer using the remote file share. However, working like this does not allow your project team to see your analysis or output. You should always move your output back to your Project or Output drives where your project team can access and review the output. See Using your workspace for more on the available drives in DataLab.

To use local disk space:

  1. Request access to a local disk for your project by emailing microdata.access@abs.gov.au.
  2. Copy the data products you need to the local disk.
  3. In your program, point to your source/input data on the local disk and start the job.
  4. In your program, save your output to the local disk.
  5. Exit Citrix and return to the DataLab portal to activate another machine.
  6. After you have finished running your analysis offline (local disk) move your analysis and output back to your Project drive.
Local disk space

Functions in My Account

Select either the My Account tile or person icon to see details about your account.

Accessing your account details
Details about your account

Basic attributes displays your name, email, phone etc. If your personal details are incorrect, email us at microdata.access@abs.gov.au with the correct information.

Account settings allows you to opt in or out of receiving email reminders. These reminders let you know when your virtual machine will shut down. Notifications are sent at 5pm AEST/AEDT, prior to the 10pm scheduled shut down if you have started your VM that day. It will also remind you before your 30 day VM rebuild. You can change this option at any time.

Email reminder in Account settings
Confirming settings update
Confirmation for settings update

Functions in My Projects

Selecting either the My Projects tile or briefcase icon, takes you to details about your projects:

  • ID (active link) is your project number
  • Project name
  • Organisation shows the lead organisation for the project
  • Status indicates if the project is Building, Open or Destroyed
  • Start date is the date the project is created by us
  • End date is the indicative closure date for the project
  • Closed date will show when the project is actually closed
  • Description is a summary taken from your project proposal
  • Users are the analysts who are approved to access the data
Accessing details about your projects
Project details

Selecting the project lD link displays information about each project:

  • Basic attributes of the project. End date is the indicative project closure date. The default VM type of small is allocated to all analysts when added to a project. Default VMs can be changed after they have been allocated.
  • Project lead contact information.
  • Users lists the DataLab user IDs of all approved researchers in the project. This does not include approved discussants, as they do not have access in DataLab.
Information about each project

Recommended browsers

DataLab is presented in a web browser. It is recommended to use the latest versions of:

  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Safari

Internet Explorer is not recommended.