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.

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

Getting started

  • You must have your NetID and have set a permanent password in order to follow all the steps. Be sure to set your challenge/response questions so that you can reset your password whenever you need to.
  • If you are completing the orientation on campus, you must register your laptop on the network before you can continue. Temporarily connect to the Visitor wi-fi network, then start a Web browser to go to to join the secure Dukeblue wi-fi network. (Windows 10 Home has problems with Dukeblue; you may wish to connect to DukeOpen instead if you have this version.)

Security measures on your laptop

  • If you do not have a password set for your operating system, 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, consider 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 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. If you participate in a clinic, you will need to encrypt your hard drive to use your laptop with clinic data.

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 or Apps (if you have Windows 8, use the down arrow on the Windows 8 start screen) and look for a listing such as Symantec, 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.
  • If you do not have up-to-date software, we recommend you install Symantec Endpoint Protection, which Duke provides free of charge to you. Click here to go to OIT's software download site: Symantec Endpoint Protection. If you already have anti-virus software, current or not, be sure to uninstall it before installing Symantec.

Install printing software for student printers

Install VPN software for accessing Duke resources from off campus

  • Install Duke's VPN software, called Cisco AnyConnect. (Mac users may need to hold the control key while clicking on the installer to get an "open" button.) After installing, look for the AnyConnect app in the Applications folder. If no profile is present, type in before you connect the first time.
  • ! Note that most library resources will not require VPN, but may require that you log in using NetID and password. See Legal Databases & Links for examples of the different kinds of access to resources.

Verify your LAWnet address and your Duke email alias

  • You should verify your LAWnet address, because it is your primary address while you are at Duke. You can change the address if you wish. Your primary email address will be used in the central directory and enterprise applications such as Exchange. Go to the LAWnet site to check your LAWnet address.
  • ! If you want to change your email address, now is a good time before people start using it.
  • In addition to LAWnet, you have a netid-based address ([netid] and Duke email alias(es). You can verify your Duke alias (and make any desired changes to it) by going to OIT's self-service site.

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 or Corporate settings on most mobile devices. You can find information about configuring your email client or mobile device for Exchange here. (Note: do not try to use the Outlook app - it does not follow our security policies and is blocked! To set up your email, you may need to enter the server as; note also that the email/user account for you in Office365 is [netid], where you replace [netid] with your own NetID).
  • If you have not already looked at your email, check your email through OWA now.

Access your network storage

You have three kinds of network storage available to you, and you should use at least one of these:
  • You have 1 Terabyte of syncing, shareable storage on Microsoft OneDrive for Duke University.("Syncing" means that your files can be automatically updated on almost any computing device you use.) Click here to learn more about your OneDrive account. We recommend using OneDrive because of its integration with Microsoft Office and Office 365. Go to OWA to see OneDrive (look for it under the 9 boxes in the upper left) and copy a file to it as practice. Once on OneDrive on Office 365, you can download the app for your computer and other devices (look for the download link at the lower left).
  • You have 50 Gigabytes of syncing, shareable storage at Click here to learn more about your Box account and download software for syncing files. Box allows collaborating with individuals not affiliated with Duke, which OneDrive does not.
  • You have 5 Gigabytes of storage available to you from the university. Click here for instructions about how to connect to your storage - look in the textbox titled "Connecting to your CIFS space."
  • ! You may alternatively or in addition choose to use a commercial back-up service, such as Mozy, to automatically back up your hard drive.
  • ! Remember: Never have just one copy of your personal data files! - Always create copies and have at least one available in a professionally maintained remote service such as Duke's network storage or a cloud storage service. Back-ups on flash drives and home back-up systems alone do not provide enough redundancy.

Check your other directory information in DukeHub

If you have not already done so, update your university directory information on DukeHub. 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.

Get Microsoft Office and set it up

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


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Security advice

! Please 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! See above under "Network storage" for options.