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  • Frequently asked questions

    Common inquiries about remote work


    When should I use Zoom?

    Harvard University Information Technology (HUIT) is monitoring our technology platforms carefully, working directly with our vendors to ensure stability and continuity of services. We are pleased with their performance thus far. However, given the extraordinary additional demand anticipated, and our need to prioritize academic use, below are some basic guidelines for using Zoom sensibly:

    • Consider whether you need to hold a meeting. A phone call or email might suffice.
    • If you hold a Zoom meeting, keep it short.
      • Video calls are most effective when they are 45-min or less
      • Consider adopting a 10-min “stand-up” approach—a meeting not long enough to sit down—and focus on priorities of the day
    • If you experience any bandwidth issues during your Zoom meeting or remote class, turn off your video when not speaking.
    • Close your Zoom session when you are done. Do not host a persistent Zoom session.

    As we continue to monitor Zoom performance, if the guidance above needs to change, we will update the community on best practices.

    When should I use Zoom versus phone calls?

    Zoom is an open real-time video and file-sharing collaboration environment. It is designed for teams to collectively share conversations, video communications, documents, and comments (chats). Whereas it is optimal for rapidly sharing a wide variety of media among an open group, it is not suited for private conversations or collaborations where sensitive data are exchanged.

    Phone calls are limited in their ability to engage multiple parties in broad data sharing. They are more suited for private conversations. Phones do have multi-party capability (conference calls).

    My Zoom session is experiencing bandwidth issues, what should I do?

    If you experience any bandwidth issues during your Zoom meeting or remote class, turn off your video when not speaking.

    Are there privacy concerns when using Zoom?

    You can review Zoom's privacy policy and follow these Zoom security and privacy tips for preserving privacy when using this service. 

    Hardware service and support
    What do I do if I need my computer repaired or upgraded?

    HMS IT will repair any Harvard owned computer, printer, or monitor, whether it is located on campus or if you are using it at home. Complete details on how the repair process works depending on location is outlined in the Computer and printer repairs during COVID Knowledge base article.

    Software and service support
    If there is an issue with the network, storage, or another service, will it be resolved?

    Yes, during this time all mission-critical services are being monitored and staff will respond as necessary to any events.

    Will O2 be available during this time?

    Yes. O2 compute, support, and training services will continue to operate during this time. All RC training and office hours consultation will take place in virtual Zoom sessions. You do not need a VPN to login to O2 or copy files to the transfer cluster, and performance will likely improve if you are not using a VPN. For more details, please visit




    What should I do if I don't have an internet connection at home?

    If you do not have internet access at home, you may be able to tether your computer to devices connected to cellular data plans. Check with your cell phone carrier about possible fees or usage caps.

    A similar option is to set up a mobile wifi hotspot. This hotspot is a dedicated device that provides a wifi signal that connects you through your cellular data plan. Check with your carrier for compatible devices and for guidance on setting up a mobile hotspot.

    If you have a wired internet connection in your home but no wireless connection, your provider may provide a router or other device that enables a wireless wifi connection. Check with your internet service provider for more information.

  • Get help

    Browse support articles or contact us for help with remote work

    If you have any questions or concerns, please visit the HMS IT Service Desk online resources,  contact us by phone at 617-432-2000, or by email at

  • Learn more from HMS and Harvard

    Get more information about the response to the Coronavirus outbreak

    Harvard University and Harvard Medical School have additional information and updates about the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.