Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1: How can I determine if my current system will meet Georgia Tech’s hardware requirements?
A1: Refer to the “Hardware Requirements” section of this document, the Student Computer Ownership (SCO) website (www.sco.gatech.edu), or the Enterprise Service Desk. Internet searches can inform you on how to find this information on your own computer, but it is generally under “My Computer” on Windows devices and “About this Mac” on Macs.
Q2: Is it better to upgrade my current computer or to buy a new one?
A2: This choice is dictated largely by your personal budget considerations. However, it is generally better to buy a new machine if you can. This machine will be faster, will have the latest technology, and generally have a longer usable life. Also, be aware that many modern laptops and most tablets cannot be upgraded. Upgrades are usually limited to adding RAM and, occasionally, internal storage.
Q3: If I purchase a new computer, how should I decide on the processor speed?
A3: Modern systems now make use of multiple processors, or cores, to achieve high performance, as now most individual processors operate at GHz speeds. For example, dual-core machines are common and are sufficient for most needs, but upgrading to a quad-core or higher system will allow computationally intensive software (CAD, Matlab, etc.) to run faster. The best strategy is to purchase as many cores as possible since it would have a longer usable life and would be able to meet your educational needs during your time at Georgia Tech. A computer with few cores will adequately run the standard software but provides no room for expansion.
Q4: What should I do if I have a problem with the network connection in my residence hall room?
A4: All rooms in Georgia Tech residence halls have the necessary network connections for your computer. These connections are fully supported by Wreck Techs. If you have any problems, you should visit services.gatech.edu to review the available documentation. If support is still needed you can find the necessary contact information at the end of this document (and on the services.gatech.edu website).
Q5: If I do not own a printer, how will I print my documents?
A5: A moderate weekly quota is provided to students for color or black and white printing in any OIT Computer Cluster, and students may use their BuzzCard for pay-for-print if they ever need to exceed this quota. For larger printing needs, students may use a free central printing service (1200 pages/semester). Visit print.gatech.edu for more details. Additionally, some schools provide their students with additional free print allocation on a weekly, monthly, or semester basis.
Q6: If printers are optional, is it worth it for me to buy my own?
A6: While limited printing facilities are available across campus, it is certainly more convenient to have your own printer. Please see Answer 5 above for printing options. Note that wireless printing to personal printers in Housing is not supported.
Q7: I already have some of the standard software. May I purchase only certain packages from the Technology Store?
A7: Yes, you may purchase any package separately from the Technology Store. Call or email them for specific software prices.
Q8: How can I obtain software from Georgia Tech?
A8: Georgia Tech has site licenses for several software packages for use on your own computer. The software available can be downloaded at no cost from software.oit.gatech.edu.
Q9: I don’t want to use one of the components of the standard software suite. Can I use something else?
A9: Standard software minimizes software conflicts and increases the quality of software support. If you decide to use something other than the standard software, then it is your responsibility to purchase and maintain the software. It will be your responsibility to eliminate any software conflicts with the standard software as you start to share documents with your fellow students and submit homework assignments to your professors.
Q10: Can I use Linux and open source software?
A10: Yes, however, OIT and Wreck Techs only provide “limited/best effort” support for Linux operating systems and software, and you will be responsible for ensuring that this software is fully compatible with the standard software, as described in Answer 9 above. Limited assistance with installation and with connecting to the wireless network is available through Wreck Techs and the Enterprise Service Desk.
Q11: Can I use an older OS?
A11: Do not use old operating systems that are no longer supported by their vendors, since they are unsecure when connected to the Internet. OIT supports only the software listed in this document.
Q12: Is there a place on campus that will service computers?
A12: You can contact the Enterprise Service Desk or Wreck Techs for support assistance. Located in the Clough Commons 2nd Floor RM 215, the Enterprise Service Desk can provide you with a number of local vendors if your computer is no longer covered under warranty. You can also contact Wreck Tech to have an RTA conduct a diagnostic check.
Q13: Where can I find more information about using the Georgia Tech network and computer systems?
A13: The following web pages contain detailed information and links to other useful pages: www.security.gatech.edu (GT Cybersecurity), services.gatech.edu (Enterprise Service Desk and Wreck Techs), and www.sco.gatech.edu (Student Computer Ownership).
Q14: What software can I install to prevent viruses or malware from infecting my computer?
A14: Windows Defender for PCs and Sophos and Apple Xprotect (built-in) for Macs to help guard against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.
Q15: Should I purchase a USB flash drive or external hard drive?
A15: Yes. These devices are an option for removable, often temporary storage. However, they can be easy to lose, so give great care to the type of information you store on these devices. Warning: These devices can transfer viruses from one machine to another, so it is important to use antivirus software, which will automatically scan these devices. A subscription to a cloud based backup solution like OneDrive for Business is still the recommended method for more permanent storage. (See Backup and FAQ Q23 for additional information.)
Q16: How can I protect my laptop from theft?
A16: Always lock your laptop to something sturdy using a cable lock. In addition, there are products available for tracking stolen laptops. Laptops should also be registered with the Georgia Tech Police Department to aid recovery when lost or stolen. Additionally, it is advisable to set a login password for each operating system on your computer to prevent exploitation of your information if the laptop is stolen.
Q17: Are there any advantages to purchasing either a Mac or a PC?
A17: Generally, the selection of a Macintosh or PC notebook is an individual choice. However, some departments may have specific recommendations. Contact your academic advisor for information to determine specific requirements and recommendations.
Q18: What are the guidelines for using my computer for gaming, business or other alternative functions?
Q19: What kind of system recovery options should I have if my machine does not have a recovery partition?
A19: You will need to have all your installation media available in case you need to reinstall your operating system.
Q20: How do I make certain my software is up to date?
A20: Secunia, for Windows, will check to see if your software is up to date. This is a free utility. AppFresh for Mac is also recommended.
Q21: Is there a place on campus where I could get my computer cleaned or where they can help me improve its performance?
A21: Yes, OIT-Enterprise Service Desk and Wreck Techs will assist you with this. Please refer to techsupport.gatech.edu for services offered.
Q22: Can I use a router or switch in my dorm room?
A22: Routers are allowed, but a wireless router must have the broadcasting radio disabled to meet Georgia Tech Policies and Requirements. However, it is the student’s responsibility for any activity that originates from their IP. Switches are not compatible with and are not allowed for use on the Wired LAWN network anywhere on campus, including residence halls.
Q23: What is the difference between online storage and online backup?
A23: Online storage can either be an additional space to store documents (like an additional drive) or it can synchronize files between your computer and a cloud based storage system. Read more about Cloud Storage.
With online storage, if you delete files they are both flagged for removal and hidden from view, or are immediately written over. Some online storage solutions will retain backups but there is no guarantee that the files are retained, especially if there is a space limitation.
With online backup, even deleted files are retained until the end user intentionally navigates to that specific file and selects to purge the file securely. The best online backup systems do not impose a limit on the size of space you are utilizing for your backup and will keep multiple recoverable versions of your documents so that you have additional methods to undo changes or recover previous versions.
Q24: Is there a place on campus that will (or can) loan electronics to me?
A24: Yes, the Library has laptops, tablets, cameras, A/V equipment and more available for checkout for periods from 4 hours to 2 days, depending on the item. Equipment is available either from the Library’s INFODesk on the Glove level (ground floor) in Price Gilbert. For a complete list of items available for instant checkout, and items that require an advance reservation, visit the Library’s Gadgets page.