New Students



Computing Orientation

See the Ten Things to Know handout!  |   Short version

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.
  • You should also set multi-factor authentication for one or more devices, since it will be required for accessing some resources, especially when off campus.See the MFA page for more information.
  • If you are completing the orientation on campus, you must register your laptop on the network before you can continue. Temporarily connect to the Dukevisitor wi-fi network, then start a Web browser to go to to join the secure Dukeblue wi-fi network. (Windows 10 Home may have problems with Dukeblue; if necessary, connect to DukeOpen instead, though DukeOpen is not as secure and may not be available in the future.)

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 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, separate from your daily use 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 need to be sure that you have up-to-date anti-virus software. If you are not sure whether you have active and up-to-date software right now, please read on:
  • Windows users: If you have Windows 10, we recommend using the internal Windows Defender software. If you have an earlier version of Windows, that may not be enough. 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 active 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 the following:

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 listed, type in before you connect the first time.
  • ! Note that most library resources do 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 Duke email alias

  • ! Recent entering classes before yours have received LAWnet email addresses in addition to the Duke email alias. We are no longer issuing LAWnet addresses, but you'll see them in use by returning students.
  • You should verify your Duke email address. You can change the address if you wish. Verify and make changes on OIT's self-service site.
  • ! If you want to change your email address, now is a good time before people start using it.
  • ! In addition to your Duke email alias address(es), you have a netid-based address ([netid]

Check your email account

  • ! All new students have ONE and ONLY ONE Duke 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 on the Web through any Web browser; any email client capable of IMAP; and using Exchange or Corporate settings on most mobile devices. You can find information about configuring an iOS device here and an Android device here. (When configuring your email on a mobile device, 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 Outlook on the Web 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 shareable cloud storage on Microsoft OneDrive for Duke University Click here to learn more about your OneDrive account. Go to Outlook on the Web 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 shareable cloud storage at Click here to learn more about your Box account and download software for syncing files to your computer. Box allows collaborating with individuals not affiliated with Duke, which OneDrive does not. This may be your best option.
  • You have 5 Gigabytes of file server storage available to you from the university. Click here for information and instructions about how to connect to your storage.We don't generally recommend this storage for day-to-day use, unless you are accustomed to using file servers.
  • ! You may alternatively or in addition choose to use a commercial back-up service, such as Mozy, to automatically back up your hard drive. We generally don't recommend this option.
  • ! Remember: Never have just one copy of your personal data files! - Always create copies and have at least one available in a professionally maintained and remote service such as OneDrive or Box or Duke's file servers. 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.