Computing equipment recommendationsEquipment recommendations and purchasing guidelines
Visit our hardware purchasing and consulting website for recommendations on computers, monitors, and accessories.
Install required security softwareProtect yourself and the school from malware and other attacks
Required security software must be installed on any Harvard-owned or grant-purchased system connected to the HMS network or used to conduct HMS business.
- Systems management software (SMS) – Install systems management software (SMS) to enable HMS IT to keep systems up-to-date with the latest security patches and virus definitions. After you install SMS, the threat-monitoring software CrowdStrike will automatically be installed.
- Threat-monitoring software – Install CrowdStrike, which helps Harvard respond quickly to advanced attacks using malware and stolen credentials.
- Antivirus software – Install ESET antivirus software if you are quad-based faculty and staff. We recommend that others install Avast for macOS or use the built-in Windows Defender for Windows computers.
If you need any assistance, contact your local IT support team.
Update your operating systemUpgrade to a supported version of your OSWindows macOS
Make sure any machine that you are using for work is running Windows 10 or macOS 10.14 or later.
- Windows users can learn more from Microsoft about upgrading to Windows 10
- Mac users can upgrade their operating system by following Apple's instructions
Track HMS equipment you have relocatedHelp us identify and keep track of HMS computing assets
With an updated operating system and the right security software (see the sections below), you can use your personal computer for remote work. However, if you have brought your work computer home, we need your help to track this and any computer equipment that has moved off-campus for HMS business conducted at home. We have created a simple form for you to use for this purpose: Remote Work Computer Equipment Form.
Thank you for completing this form to help us track this equipment.
Internet and home networkInternet guidance in preparation for remote work
Prepare your remote work environment
- Ensure that your computer has a working webcam and microphone and that its operating systems and applications are up to date with the latest releases and patches.
- Ensure that you have high-speed internet access at your remote work location. Use tools such as speedtest.net or your internet provider's support tools to determine if the speed of your connection meets the needs of video conferencing tools such Zoom.
- Check with you service provider to confirm the data limits for your account.
- Many American internet providers have pledged to "keep Americans connected." See this list to find out if a provider in your area is included.
- If you do not have internet access at home, consider purchasing a prepaid hotspot such as the Verizon Ellipsis Jetpack, the AT&T Velocity Hotspot, or others. Look up the cellular signal strength in your remote location using this tool.
- If you require access to Wi-Fi and your device doesn't have Wi-Fi built-in, you can purchase a wireless adapter. We recommend the TP-Link Mini - AC600 USB 2.0 Wifi Adapter
Ergonomic office equipmentResources and recommendations for an ergonomic home office setup
Visit the Environmental Health & Safety ergonomics website for all your ergonomics resources, including recommendations on home office setup, preferred vendors and pricing, the EH&S Computer Workstation Self Evaluation Assessment online training program, and much more.
Set up your HMS user accountsRegister for access to HMS IT resources
Campus access requestProcess for accessing the HMS campus to retrieve equipment or to make an office/instructional space request
Connect with your department administrator(s) for requesting campus access.
HMS has updated its guidance regarding the submission and approval process for HMS campus access requests. HMS staff can now request one-time equipment and item retrieval, or access to an office or instructional space. The Campus Access Request knowledge article outlines the information that is required for submission.
Connect with others
Host remote meetingsInstall video conferencing softwareZoom
You can connect with your colleagues directly using our conferencing services Zoom or Webex. You can use whichever tool you are most comfortable with.
If you are having trouble getting a good connection when you are in a Zoom meeting, follow these tips:
- Move closer to your Wi-Fi router—or try a different spot—so you can get a stronger connection.
- Reduce video and music streaming to ease the demand on your home network.
- Switch off video sharing and continue the meeting using only audio.
To enhance privacy while using Zoom, review our tips for improving Zoom security and privacy.
Teach RemotelyTools and Training for Remote TeachingZoom Canvas
Visit our Teach Remotely website for all your remote teach tools and training resources.
Access your email and calendarUse a web browser to check your inboxOutlook
While you are out of the office, you can access your HMS email and calendar from any web browser using Outlook on the web.
Forward calls and voicemailsAnswer calls and check your messages from anywhereHarvard Phone
While you are out of the office, you can turn on call forwarding so that calls to your work phone will ring your cell phone, home phone, or any other alternate phone. You can even set it up to ring multiple lines at once so you can answer from wherever is most convenient. You can also configure your voicemail to relay your messages to your email address.
Jabber Softphone ServicePlace and receive calls on your mobile device or desktop/laptopHarvard Phone
Jabber softphone allows staff to answer their office lines through a softphone on their mobile device, desktop, or laptop. This enables users to place and receive calls directly from their published Harvard phone number.
- A valid Harvard Phone account. A physical Harvard phone is not required.
- Harvard Phone account must be enabled for Jabber.
- An active O365 account.
Access files and applications
Set up a VPN connectionSecurely access your files and applicationsJunos Pulse Secure
Remote desktop accessConfigure your work computer for remote access
To access documents or run applications that are on your work computer, you must configure remote desktop access. You must directly configure your work computer before you can access it remotely.
After configuration, you can interact with the screen of your work computer from anywhere that has a high-speed connection (a wired ethernet connection to a DSL, cable, or fiber internet service is ideal).
- Set up your Windows computer for remote desktop access
- Set up your Mac computer for remote desktop access
Connect to your files and applicationsAccess your work after VPN and remote desktop are set up
To remotely access the files and applications on your office computer, network servers, or other network resources, you need to set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection for secure access from a remote location. For files on your office computer, you will also need to set up remote desktop access.
After you have configured your work computer for remote desktop access, how you connect to it depends on which operating system you are using on the machine you are connecting from.
- Access a Windows PC from another Windows PC
- Access a Mac from another Mac
- Access a Windows PC from a Mac
Share files on cloud storage or on HMS serversUse our services to store your workDropbox OneDrive
Frequently asked questionsCommon 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?
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 https://it.hms.harvard.edu/our-services/research-computing/research-computing-response-coronavirus
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 helpBrowse 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more from HMS and HarvardGet more information about the response to the Coronavirus outbreak