New Students



Computing Orientation

See also the Ten Things to Know handout!

General instructions

You may complete the steps of this orientation at any time. During orientation week, there will be introductory sessions available for assistance. At other times, please contact the help desk with any questions.

Tips are marked by ! Tasks are marked by . Optional tasks are marked by .

Getting started

  • You must have your NetID and have set a permanent password in order to follow all the steps. We strongly recommend setting your Challenge/Response questions at the same time.
  • If you are completing the orientation on campus, you must register your laptop on the network before you can continue. Do not use the VISITOR network, because it imposes a number of limitations on what you can do. On campus, start a Web browser to go to and complete the simple registration.
  • ! If you are on campus and still need to set your permanent password, use the Visitor network to set the password, then move to the Duke network.

Security advice

! Please always keep safety and security in mind:
  • Never leave your valuable devices unattended. Theft can and does occur, and easy targets invite more risk for everyone.
  • Be sure that your laptop is set to receive updates to its installed software. On Windows this can be controlled through the Windows Update control panel. On current versions of MacOS updates come through the App Store.
  • Do not download or share illegal content such as pirated music, video, etc. Be wary of "peer-to-peer" sharing software since it can be a security risk for your computer and a monetary risk for you.
  • Back up your valuable data! Duke makes network and cloud-based file storage available to keep copies of your data, and there are other ways to create back-ups. Save copies and drafts frequently. Bytes are cheap - your labor is not!

Set a password on your computer

  • If you do not have a password set, follow the instructions for Windows laptops. Mac users should already have a password set (if not, go to System preferences, then Users & Groups).
  • Duke has licensed special "multi-factor authentication" software that allows you to set additional protection for your Duke account, in addition to a password. You can choose which Duke sites require this extra security. See the MFA page for more information.
  • Duke has also licensed password manager software that helps you set and use strong passwords for all your online accounts. See the LastPass page at OIT.
  • ! In addition to your using a strong password, we recommend creating an administrative account for installing software and changing configurations. Once you have created that admin account, make your everyday account a "user-level" account - this will protect your computer from many forms of attack and infection.
  • ! We also recommend encrypting your hard drive if you keep sensitive data. (Encrypting scrambles the data so that only someone who knows the password or has the digital "key" can access the actual data.) Both Windows and Mac OS have built-in tools for encrypting. On Windows, search for Bitlocker. On Mac OS, open System Preferences and select Security & Privacy.

Install antivirus software

You may already have up-to-date anti-virus software. If you are not sure, please read on:
  • Windows users: Go to the Desktop and check the icons in the system tray, at the bottom right of your computer. If you have an antivirus program, there should be an icon for its real-time protection function. It should warn you if the virus definitions or anti-virus engine are out-of-date (through a pop-up when you roll over it, or through a symbol on its icons). Alternatively, you can go to All Programs (use the down arrow on the Windows 8 start screen) and look for a listing such as Norton, Kaspersky, or McAfee. It is important not to have more than one anti-virus program installed.
  • Mac users: Look in the dock, and if you do not see an icon there, open up the applications folder on your hard drive and look. Although there are relatively few Mac viruses, all Mac users should have an up-to-date anti-virus application.
  • We recommend Symantec, which Duke provides free of charge to you. If you need to install antivirus software, click here to go to OIT's software download site: Symantec Endpoint Protection.. If you already have anti-virus software, be sure to uninstall it before installing Symantec.

Install printing software for student printers

Install VPN software for accessing Duke resources from off campus

Access your network storage

You have three kinds of network storage available to you, and you should use at least one of these:

Check your email account

  • ! All new students have ONE emailbox. You have several email addresses that deliver to the one box. Your email account is on Microsoft's Office 365 Exchange service.
  • You can access your email in several ways: Outlook software on Mac or Windows (see the option to install Microsoft Office below); Outlook Web App (OWA) through any browser; any email client capable of IMAP; and Exchange settings on most mobile devices. You can find information about configuring your email client or mobile device for Exchange here. (Note: the server is
  • If you have not already accessed your email, check your email through OWA now.

Verify your LAWnet address and your Duke email alias

Check your other directory information in ACES

If you have not already done so, update your university directory information on ACES. Be sure to enter your current postal mailing address.

Log into Sakai

If you have been registered for classes, you should be able to log into Sakai; however, don't worry if you can't yet because your course sites may not yet be available. Go here to log into Sakai.

A few other recommended (but optional) steps

We recommend doing these steps now before you forget to do them, but they can be done at any time:

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