A technology guide for future students

Information technology is an increasingly important part of our everyday life. It is no different at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. If you learn with technology, you’ll be at home at UW-Madison.

Student with laptopUW-Madison provides you with the technology resources you need to be successful:

  • a personalized Web portal, providing Web-based email, a calendar, and access to campus and student information
  • Internet access via a variety of network connection options, including wireless network access points distributed around campus
  • 1,000 general-access computers available in labs across campus
  • nearly 24-hour help desk
  • free training
  • a retail store providing computing hardware, software, peripherals and supplies, advice and repair.

With these tools, you can communicate via email with faculty and other students outside the classroom. Learn from other students in free training sessions. Use word processing, spreadsheets, databases, and Internet tools for class assignments and research. Buy the latest hardware and software at great prices. Schedule appointments and campus events with your personalized calendar.

At UW-Madison, you’re never far from the Internet. Every University residence hall room has a network connection ready for your computer and wireless is available in all residence halls. DSL and cable modem services from private vendors offer additional options for network connections in private dorms and other residences. If you own a laptop with a wireless network card, use the campus wireless network to connect to the Internet. When you’re out and about on campus, stop at a general-access computing lab, computer kiosk, or checkout a laptop with wireless networking.

My UW-Madison Web portal

My UW-Madison is your personal entry point to student and campus information at UW-Madison. It is an easy-to-use Web tool that you can “personalize” for quick access to the resources you need to meet your educational goals. It includes Web-based email and calendaring and access to the campus library catalog. You can view your course schedule and grades, add or drop classes, update your personal information and more.

You gain access to My UW-Madison when you activate your unique NetID. When you log on, My UW-Madison recognizes who you are and presents your personalized information. You get secure access to content based on your NetID.

Computer labs, laptops and kiosks

More than 1,000 computers are available in the 17 general-access labs located on campus. Even if you have your own computer, you can use the printers, scanners, CD burning and digital editing resources available in the labs; see www.doit.wisc.edu/computerlabs/. Wireless laptop computers are available for short-term checkout at several of the labs; see  www.doit.wisc.edu/laptops/. Campus computer kiosks also provide Internet access in many campus locations; see www.doit.wisc.edu/kiosks/.

Internet connections

With your own computer, you have several Internet connection options that vary in speed, convenience and cost. You can connect using Ethernet (ResNet in University Residence Halls), the wireless network (connect at most locations around campus) or a commercial service such as DSL (digital subscriber line) or cable modem.

ResNet (Ethernet) is included in UW Residence Halls and two private dorms (Towers and Regent). ResNet, DSL and cable modem require a computer with an Ethernet card. To access the wireless network, your laptop must have a wireless network card. The DoIT Tech Store has additional information about each of these Internet connection options.

Should I buy a computer?

You are not required to own your own computer, though more than 90% of UW-Madison students do. If you’re thinking about buying a new computer, first talk to your major department and the DoIT Tech Store. Your major department might have specific technology recommendations, and the Tech Store provides free expert consultation and product information to help you decide what you need. Contact the Tech Store by phone (608-264-3648) or visit in person at 1210 W. Dayton Street, 750 Highland Avenue or 333 East Campus Mall.

Should I buy a PC or a Mac? Laptop or desktop?

The DoIT Tech Store and your major department can provide valuable information to help you decide which computer is better for you. Consider the software you plan to use, any recommendations/preferences from your major field of study, and your personal preference and past experience.

Buy the computer that best suits your needs. Macs and PCs have their advantages. Both are popular on campus, both are found in the computer labs, and both can be serviced on campus. Most software that a typical college student uses will run on either a Mac or a PC.

When deciding between a laptop or desktop, first consider what is most important to you:

Consider a laptop if you think you will make use of the campus wireless network that allows you to connect to the Internet with your laptop, a wireless card and your activated NetID.

Screen size
If portability isn’t a priority for you, a desktop computer might be a better option. Desktop computers usually have a bigger screen and broader keyboard.

Desktop computers are generally less expensive to purchase, repair and upgrade than a similarly configured laptop.

Student with laptopYou can purchase Dell and Apple desktop and laptop computers at educational discounts available through each of these vendor’s web sites. You can buy computer supplies, documentation, software, peripherals, and parts at academic discounts at the DoIT Tech Store. Before you buy anything, contact the Tech Store for product information and assistance in identifying your computing needs.


The University provides full Help Desk services, accessible 6 a.m. to 1 a.m., seven days a week. You can visit one of three Walk-in Help Desk locations, send an email message to help@doit.wisc.edu, or call (608) 264-HELP (4357) anytime.

You can also access Help Online, a computing-related knowledge base, at helpdesk.doit.wisc.edu. At Help Online, you can search for solutions, follow the progress of your Help Desk inquiries, or email questions to the Help Desk mailbox.

Free training

As a registered UW-Madison student, you can take advantage of free training through the Software Training for Students program. Classes vary from basic desktop applications to advanced Web design. No registration is required, but seating is usually limited and is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. See the website at  www.doit.wisc.edu/training/sts for more information.

Tech Store

A campus retail facility, called the Tech Store, sells hardware and software at substantial educational discounts at three locations. Part of UW-Madison’s Division of Information Technology (DoIT), the Tech Store provides information, advice, and demonstrations on supported products. Contact the Tech Store at (608) 264-3648 or visit 1210 W. Dayton Street, 750 Highland Avenue or 333 East Campus Mall. At the Online Tech Store, you can find DoIT-recommended products, comparisons, information concerning compatibility and other advice. Check out the Online Tech Store at techstore.doit.wisc.edu.


DoIT has an authorized service department that offers installation and repair services for computers, monitors, printers, and other equipment. Take advantage of reasonable rates or subscribe to one of several service-plan options to keep your computing system up and running.

Security and responsible use of campus network

UW-Madison works to minimize risks to information and computing resources on campus. Responsible use guidelines include:

  • Be smart, do not swap copyrighted music or video.
  • Do not SPAM. It’s annoying, and it slows down the network.
  • Protect your computer – free Norton AntiVirus is available to all UW students.
  • Your NetID and password are very important. Do not lose or share them.

Location and more information

DoIT is located at 1210 W. Dayton St. and is open 7:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information about computing resources available to UW-Madison students, see www.doit.wisc.edu/students/ or contact the  Tech Store at (608) 264-3648.