An Internet café differs from a computer lab in that usage of a computer lab is generally free for those with access, while Internet cafés charge for computer use. The term 'Internet café' is often used interchangeably with 'computer lab' but may differ from a computer lab in that users can also connect to the Internet using their own computer or device, and users of a computer lab generally do not need any equipment of their own. There is the need for protection and restrictions within networks available to the public. Users might be denied access to websites featuring adult content or sites that demand too much bandwidth. Those using a computer lab also usually are allowed a limited amount of time to be signed onto a machine, whether surfing the Internet or using software to do other work. Seldom is there a charge to use a public computer lab, but labs in educational facilities tend to be available only to current students of the school, and they usually must sign on so that their activities can be traced and monitored if necessary. Computer labs can be found in libraries, schools, government buildings, science labs, community centers, companies with IT departments that requires such a place for their employees to do their jobs, and research centers. Printers, scanners, and other peripherals may augment the lab setup.
Because they are shared by multiple users, computers in typical labs often have security software installed. This software may limit, trace, or block certain activities, or may quickly restore computers back to their original configurations. Due to the high number of computers in a lab, many lab administrators choose to use remote administration software. Computer labs in schools often have classroom management software installed to manage and control student computer activity from the teacher’s computer, to monitor or prevent web browsing and to remotely control student computers.