Frequently Asked Questions
This FAQ briefly addresses the most common questions about student computing at UW-Madison. For more information and resources, see the Students tab on the DoIT website at: doit.wisc.edu/students
For more free advice and buying information, contact the DoIT Tech Store at (608) 264-DOIT (3648), email us at email@example.com or visit us at 1210 W. Dayton Street (next to Union South), Madison, WI. Open 7:45 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday–Friday.
What technology resources are available and how can I learn more about them?
Each student receives a free Internet service account with a unique NetID, that includes UW email (WiscMail), online calendar (WiscCal), online file storage and web space (My WebSpace) and more. A web site called My UW-Madison provides a personal entry point to these services and to vital campus information including courses and registration, advising, financial aid and more. To learn more about these resources, register for the Computing@UW Orientation. This is a free, one-hour session providing important user information. Attendees receive a $5 DoIT Tech Store gift card and are entered into a drawing for additional prizes. While registering for an orientation session on the Software Training for Students web site, check out and register for other free classes on popular software programs including basic computing, web design, graphics, business applications, animation, music, and video.
How many students own computers?
What if I don’t bring a computer to campus?
Most UW-Madison students own computers, but you also have free use of more than 1000 computers in 19 campus computer labs, on-the-go access with over 120 computer kiosks in many popular campus locations, and over 600 wireless laptops that can be checked out from multiple campus locations.
Do I need to buy a new computer or can I just bring one from home
You don’t need a new computer, but you need one with ample processing speed and memory and the capability to support fast network connections. We recommend a Windows PC with at least a 1.6GHz Pentium 4 or equivalent processor and 2GB memory or a Macintosh with at least a 1.83GHz Core Duo processor and 2GB memory for basic computing needs like checking email, browsing the Internet and word processing. Please keep in mind these are minimum requirements and may not suit everyone’s needs.
Laptop vs. Netbook vs. Desktop? What about a Netbook or Tablet?
For your primary computing needs, a laptop or desktop will offer the most flexibility and computing power. Desktops offer the most power for your dollar at the cost of limited portability. Laptops are consistently the most popular choice for their balance of power, portability and cost. 97% of UW-Madison students report using a laptop for their computing needs. As companion devices, netbooks and tablets can be great options. Both are low cost and highly portable, but can be limited in their ability to access certain software. Be sure to consult your area of study for any specific recommendations and talk to a Tech Store consultant to review your options.
Should I get a Macintosh or Windows computer?
Both platforms are used and supported on the UW-Madison campus, and both provide the necessary student computing tools. A good rule of thumb is, “go with what you know.” But also be sure to consult your major area of study for any specific recommendations.
Should I buy a new computer now or later (when I move to campus)?
Prices are constantly changing, due to promotions and the introduction of newer components. Generally, the longer you wait to buy, the more you get for your money. But be aware that orders tend to increase as the fall semester approaches which could delay the arrival of your computer. One advantage of ordering closer to the start of classes is that you can have the computer shipped directly to your dorm, reducing what you need to pack and transport on moving day. University Housing and Private Residence Halls start accepting deliveries about one to two weeks before classes start. Check with your residence hall for official start date, address and other details. However, having your computer early will allow you to familiarize yourself with its operation and all the resources that will be available to you from My UW, wisc.edu and other critical campus websites.
What kinds of computers do you sell or recommend?
The DoIT Tech Store, techstore.doit.wisc.edu, has educational discount programs with Dell and Apple. We stock and sell a select number of standard Dell computers and provide a link to Dell’s Higher Education online store to build and order customized versions of most any Dell computer. We also stock and sell all standard Apple computers and provide a link to the Apple Store for Education to build and order customized versions of these systems. Educational discounts usually amount to a savings of up to 7%. See our online Computing Checklist at kb.doit.wisc.edu/showroom/page.php?id=5779 for recommended systems.
Will DoIT provide warranty or other repair work on my computer?
DoIT is authorized to provide warranty services on most Apple and Dell computers. We can service many off-brand PCs, but cannot honor their warranties. DoIT provides a free virus evaluation, detection and removal service. For a standard fee, we provide other installation and repair services for selected software and hardware, including installation of memory, network cards and other upgrade products purchased at DoIT.
How do I connect my computer to the Internet?
The type of connection you will need depends on where you are located:
- University Residence Halls provide the ResNet Network that includes wired high-speed Ethernet connections in each room and wireless access in common areas of UW Housing. See details in the ResNet Connection Guide at www.housing.wisc.edu/resnet.
- Private Residence Halls offer high-speed Internet access via local broadband service providers.
- In off-campus residences, you need to contact a local vendor to order a high-speed DSL, cable modem, wireless or other broadband service.
- Most campus buildings provide access to the UW-Madison Wireless Network.
The DoIT Help Desk maintains several online documents on ResNet, wireless and other connections under Getting Connected at helpdesk.wisc.edu. Local DSL, cable modem, and wireless broadband services provide their own instructions for connection.
Are there other Internet connection options?
Yes, you can also connect to the Internet from shared campus facilities such as the campus computer labs, Internet kiosks, or wireless laptops that you can check out for up to three days from most campus computer labs. Some department computer labs are available to students enrolled in certain courses.
What software do I need?
We recommend recent versions of the following software:
- Operating System (Windows 7 or Windows Vista; Mac OS X 10.6 or later) with latest security updates
- Office Suite (such as Microsoft Office, Apple iWork, Open Office or other office solution) with latest security updates
- AntiVirus and Anti-Spyware:
(Symantec Endpoint Protection/AntiVirus: available via free download or free Security Pack at SOAR)
- Firewall (included in Windows 7/Vista and Mac OS X )
- Web Browser (such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Chrome) with latest security updates
What software do you sell?
DoIT has great deals on popular Microsoft products (Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate, and Office for Windows or Mac starting at $70) and a variety of Adobe graphics and multimedia software. You can buy these products in person at the DoIT Tech Store or at the WISC Software site, wisc.edu/wisc. Many other popular software programs are also available for purchase at educational discounts at the DoIT Tech Store and via WISC. All purchases require a valid UW-Madison ID. Some products such as Microsoft and Adobe products require students to sign a license agreement.
Are there campus security requirements?
Every computer connected to the University network must have the latest security-related patches and must run up-to-date antivirus software. Personal firewall and anti-spyware software are also highly recommended. The DoIT Help Desk has more information about security updates for Windows and Mac OS X. Symantec AntiVirus software is available to UW-Madison students at no charge and can be obtained in several ways: You can download these Symantec software products for free (a high-speed Internet connection is highly recommended). You can pick up your free Security Pack at SOAR or at the Tech Store. Or, you can use a campus computer lab to download a copy of it. You are responsible for taking measures to secure your computer, protect your identity, and avoid copyright infringement per campus policy. See cio.wisc.edu/security for more information on campus security.
What if my computer, network connection, or software doesn’t work?
DoIT provides full Help Desk services. Phone, chat and email support is accessible seven days a week. At helpdesk.wisc.edu, you will find answers to most common computing questions. Visit the Walk-in Help Desk at any of our three locations: in the Computer Sciences. Building at 1210 W. Dayton Street, in the Memorial Union
at 800 Langdon Street or in the Health Sciences Learning Center at 750 Highland Avenue.
Contact the Help Desk any of these ways:
Online: helpdesk.wisc.edu Self help always available
LiveChat: Select “Click to Chat” at bottom left corner of any Help Desk Web page 7 days a week: 8:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
Phone: 608-264-HELP (4357),
7 days a week: 6:00 a.m.–1:00 a.m.
Response within 24 hours
Computer Science Walk-in Help Desk (1210 W. Dayton St.)
Monday–Friday from 7:45 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Health Sciences Walk-in Help Desk (750 Highland Ave.
Monday–Friday: 7:45 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
Memorial Union Walk-in Help Desk (800 Langdon St.)
Sunday: 12:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.
Monday–Thursday: 10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.
Friday: 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.