A computer lab is a place which provides computer services to students who attend the institution or for use in curricular computer classes.
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.
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.
A "media lab" (often referred to as "new media lab" or "media research lab") is a term used for interdisciplinary organizations, collectives or spaces with the main focus on new media, digital culture and technology. The MIT Media Lab is the most famous example of a media lab.
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