IT Services

A Guide to IT at Oxford for New Students and Staff


Getting Started

Welcome to IT at the University of Oxford. This site is a brief guide to the essential IT information you will need as a member of the University. Most IT services and resources are provided by IT Services; links to library, college and departmental services are also included. Note that IT Services was created on 1st August 2012; previously most services were provided by OUCS (Oxford University Computing Services) and you may still hear references to them.

What to Bring

There is no requirement to bring any kind of IT device to the University. Most colleges and departments will provide some kind of open access computing facilities including printers. There is typically a modest charge for printing to cover costs of paper, toner, etc.

However, the majority of students (90+%) do bring a laptop. Most also bring a phone, usually a smartphone of some kind. There are no restrictions on what kind of device you should bring, what make, model, operating system or what software you should use. Individual departments may have recommendations and will let you know directly if this is the case.

You may find the Freshers Survey Report useful to see facts and figures on what previous year's freshers have brought with them. The report also shows divisional breakdowns. For example, freshers in MPLS (Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division) are more likely to use Unix/Linux systems which means that there should be good access to support, both formal and informal in that division. More unusual software or configurations are suppported on a best efforts basis.

Generally, students do not use their laptops to take notes in lectures and few lecture rooms have power available to seats. Lecture notes are typically available to print out either before or after the lecture, often via Weblearn. The majority of students live in the city centre, close to their place of study, reducing the need to carry round expensive devices.

You should bring any software CDs or licences, in case of hardware problems which may require a re-install, and warranty documents.

Your Oxford SSO Account

Your Oxford SSO Account entitles you to use all University resources provided by IT Services and many others run by other parts of the University. SSO stands for Single Sign-On Account as you can access multiple services with a single login and it is sometimes called just your SSO Account. Your SSO username (or Oxford username) is the username part of your account credentials. You need to activate your account and change the password at least once a year.

An SSO Account is created automatically for you when your University card is issued. For new students, your username and activation code will be sent by email to the address held by student records sometime before 1st September. Please ensure has a working email address for you. Otherwise, it will be sent by internal mail to your main University address.

If you do not receive your SSO username and activation code by University post within three working days of receiving your University card, please contact either your college IT staff or the IT Services Help Centre. If you do not receive a University card, you should contact your college or department administration staff for further help.

Activating Your Oxford SSO Account

You need your activation code and University card in order to go through this procedure.

  1. Access the Web Authentication Service (Webauth)
  2. Choose a password for your Oxford SSO Account. (Read the Security advice about choosing your passwords).
  3. Set a security question and answer in case you ever forget your password

The lifetime of the activation code is given on your letter and will be between 30 and 60 days. If the activation code has expired, you can ask for it to be unexpired via the IT Services Help Centre.

The IT Services Account Registration web page has further information about your Oxford account.

Changing the Password of your Oxford SSO Account

Password Expiry

Your Oxford SSO Account's password is required to be changed at least once a year via Webauth. You should receive an email reminder a few weeks before it is due to expire. If you don't change your password by its expiry date you will be unable to access your Oxford SSO Account until the password has been reset via Webauth.

Connecting to the Internet

Wired ethernet connections and wireless networks are widely available throughout the University and colleges, including some outside areas like the University Parks.

Every college and department chooses how to set up access in their own buildings but the Eduroam wireless service is the most widely available. It provides internet access not only in Oxford but in academic institutions around the world with the same username and password.

Generic Instructions for Connecting to Eduroam

  1. Activate your Oxford username

  2. Generate a Remote Access account. This uses the same username as your Oxford SSO Account. For security, use a different password to your Oxford SSO Account. (Read the Security advice about choosing your passwords).

  3. Use the Eduroam Configuration Assistance Tool (CAT) to help you set up Eduroam.

Alternative instructions

More detailed instructions can be found on the IT Services Eduroam pages.

Figure images/ethernetcard1.jpg [Photo of ethernet card]

Other Sources of Information

If you have the choice of using a wired ethernet socket or a wireless connection, the wired connection will generally give a higher speed and more stable connection. You will need an ethernet cable.

Email and internet access are also available from computer clusters located in colleges, some departments and IT Services.

Away From Oxford

Most University services are accessible from off-campus in the usual way, sometimes through an Oxford Single Sign-on (SSO) login. However, some internal services are only available from outside via the Virtual Private Network (VPN) service (e.g. over a broadband connection).

To obtain and configure VPN software

  1. Activate your Oxford username
  2. Generate a Remote Access account. For security, use a different password to your Oxford SSO Account. (Read the Security advice about choosing your passwords).
  3. You must use approved VPN client software. This includes the Cisco VPN client and some native clients. Check valid clients and get configuration instructions. Download Cisco VPN client from the registration web site.

    iPhone and iPod Touch already includes the software so iPhone/iPod users do not need to download anything else.

  4. Follow the Configuring VPN on Your Computer notes on the IT Services web site.

Restrictions on networked applications

The University network has a finite data capacity which is shared between all members of the University. Some colleges and departments may place restrictions on some 'Peer-to-Peer' (P2P) applications to avoid excessive consumption of limited shared resources. Please check with your local IT staff

You are also reminded that file sharing of copyrighted material is illegal and could result in prosecution.

Student Registration

All students are required to undertake the annual student registration process. This is necessary so that the University can obtain all the required information about each student and to confirm their new or continuing status as members of the University. This process is run by University Central Administration.

All new and continuing students on full or part-time Undergraduate, Postgraduate Taught or Postgraduate Research programmes need to register online. Please see the Student Gateway information and advisory service page for more details and links to the online annual registration system:

All students should register between 1st September and 12th October 2012. Ideally you should register before you arrive at or return to Oxford, and you must do so by the end of first week of term.

All students will be able to update their personal details and print enrolment certificates via the Student Gateway site throughout the year.

Students who encounter any technical problems after successfully logging in, or who are unable to complete the information required to register online, should contact the Student Gateway.


Figure images/securecomputer.png [Cartoon of insecure PC]

We use the internet all the time, but unfortunately so do criminals: they're after your computer, your bandwidth, your money, and your identity. However, you can take some simple steps to reduce their chances of success.

Information Security is taken very seriously at Oxford University. Actions you can take range from the physical basics, such as securing a laptop with a small lock and locking your screen when you move away from your computer, to the more advanced measures that can be taken to protect email messages from prying eyes.

Never share your password with anyone. IT Services and your local IT support staff will never ask for your password.

It's especially important to protect mobile devices. They are small, easily lost, misplaced or stolen and generally store a host of account details, personal information and more.

If your Oxford SSO Account is hacked the chances are it will be blocked for security reasons - this means you might temporarily lose access to your email and other essential services until the issue can be resolved. This always happens at the worst possible time! Fortunately, you can take these simple steps to help protect yourself:

Password Security

Never share your password with anyone. IT Services and your local IT support staff will never ask for your password.

If someone else does find out your password, you must change it immediately

If you think you may have given your account details to someone else in reponse to an email (phishing)

  1. Don't panic - mistakes do happen
  2. Change your password as soon as possible
  3. Let your IT staff know
  4. If you still have a copy of the email, please forward it to with full email headers so we can help others avoid making the same mistake

Please do not be afraid to own up: we would rather you told us than tried to cover up a mistake.

For a secure password, do not base your choice on:

A good password includes a mixture of:

Why not choose the initial letters of words in a line from a favourite song or poem (e.g. ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?’ becomes ‘SIctta5d?’ But don't use this one!).

If your memory lets you down and you have to keep a note of your passwords, make sure you keep it somewhere that can’t be accessed by others and don’t label it “My Oxford password”. Don't leave it lying around or store it in a folder or document called Passwords!

Don't use the Administrator account by default

Personal Firewalls

For more guidance about your passwords see the Information Security web pages and lunchtime courses.

No Phishing

‘Phishing’ is a type of fraud whereby criminals try to get you to reveal confidential information such as your passwords, bank or credit card details.

For example:

Always remember, IT Services and your local IT support staff will never ask for your password, especially not by an email or a phonecall.

How to avoid being caught by phishers:

If you receive a phishing attack that asks for University credentials, report it to with full email headers. For more information on this, and for guidance on how to secure your email in general, see Email at Oxford

If you have made use of a plagiarism detection website outside the university and you are concerned about it, you should contact your tutor or course supervisor immediately. Guidance on avoiding plagiarism is available from your tutor and your department.

For more guidance about phishing see the Information Security web pages and lunchtime courses.

Don't give away too much information about yourself

Restricting what others can find out about you online:

On social networks e.g. Facebook:

Tell people only the bare essentials in your out-of-office emails. Use a vague statement like "I will be unable to respond to emails until the 20th" rather than "Off on holiday till the 20th" (which implies the house is empty!)

For more guidance about social media see the Information Security web pages and lunchtime courses.

Public Computers and Open Networks

On public computers and open wireless networks there is a greater chance that criminals are recording everything you do.

Wifi at home

For more information about mobile device security, see the Information Security web pages and lunchtime courses.

Anti-Virus Software - your responsibility

There are thousands of pieces of software designed purely for malicious activity.

Owners of computers connected to the University network are responsible for the installation and maintenance of up-to-date anti-virus software. Virus-infected computers can be barred from using the University network.

Figure images/virus-rh.png [Cartoon of virus-infected PC]

Viruses are one example of malware, malicious software that corrupts, modifies or deletes data stored on your computer. Other examples of malware include:

See the Adware and Spyware section of IT Services for more information, and tools for the removal of malicious software.

Got a Mac and think this doesn't apply to you?

Malware gets onto your computer in a variety of ways:

The University has a site licence for the Sophos anti-virus client which is available for MS Windows, Apple Mac OS X and Linux. Members of the University can install the Sophos client on to their own computers for free.

To obtain Sophos Anti-Virus:

  1. Visit Software Registration and Download
  2. Select Sophos Anti-Virus
  3. Click on Submit
  4. Download and install the appropriate Sophos client for your computer system

Doing this also makes sure that you are registered on a mailing list so that you receive important announcements.

Full instructions are given in the IT Services Anti-Virus pages.

If you have alternative anti-virus software that you are happy with, then it's fine to stay with that as long as it is kept up-to-date.

If you leave the University you must remove Sophos Anti-Virus from your PC(s) and/or laptop(s). It is recommended that you install an alternative anti-virus product.

For more information about using anti-virus, see the Information Security web pages and lunchtime courses.

Software Updates

Why install updates?

The University Security Team deals with hundreds of infected computers every year, most of this malware is designed to steal personal data, banking details and passwords.

The main vendors and software suppliers regularly release security patches and free upgrades to their software. These are usually provided because a vulnerability has been found in the software, which puts your computer and its data at risk from hackers. Set your computer to check for the latest patches and upgrades automatically.

Security Note

Microsoft and Apple never send out system updates as email attachments. Anything in email that appears to be a Mac or Windows system update is almost certainly an attempt to give you a virus and should be deleted.

Problems or questions? Contact your IT staff (or the IT Services Help Centre) for advice.

For more information about updating your software, see the Information Security web pages and lunchtime courses.

Loss and Theft - Devices

Of course, online security isn't enough: you also need to guard against mishaps in the real world. For example, your computer could break, get damaged, or be stolen.

If your computer or mobile device is stolen, you have not only lost the physical device and your data but you have also given someone else access to any stored usernames, passwords, account details, etc.

While most areas in the University are secure from any non-University members, this can never be certain - the University is a regular target for opportunistic thieves. You should take basic measures to secure personal items:

For more information about locking up your devices, see the Information Security web pages and lunchtime courses.

Loss and Theft - Data

If you value your data (notes, essays, project work, favourite holiday photos) you need to back up your files. This simply means copying the files to another storage device, e.g. USB pen drive, CD, or external USB hard-drive that you keep separate from your computer and which is free from any viruses.

Take two backup copies (on to separate storage media) of important files. If you've just spent six hours writing an essay, it's time to do a backup!

Take care not to lose this storage device, especially if it's a USB stick and you carry it around with you.

Never put highly confidential information on a USB stick (or similar) in an unencrypted format.

If you sell your computer or give it away (even to a close friend or relative), make sure that all the data on it has been deleted. You can either reformat the hard disk or opt for a more robust solution that completely wipes the data from the disk (e.g. Darik's Boot and Nuke).

Most mobile devices (e.g. phones) allow you to access all kinds of services and store your usernames and passwords. If yours is lost or stolen then someone may be able to access all your information.

For staff and postgraduates, the University also runs a free back-up service, the HFS. You register your computer with this service, and can then back it up on demand and/or on a weekly automatic schedule.

Back Up Your System Files

Operating systems are made up of a large number of files that make it possible for a computer to run. Most computer systems have standard utilities for making backup copies of key system files - try typing the word backup into your computer's Help system. You should also keep boot CDs to start up the computer if the main disk becomes faulty.

If you use a Mac, upgrade to the latest operating system and use the Time Machine feature.

For more information about locking up your data, see the Information Security web pages and lunchtime courses.

Solving Hardware Problems

Bring all your software CDs for faster re-install, especially

Under Warranty?

Computer Hardware Breakdown Service

Hardware Repair and Upgrade Services

Data Recovery - Backup and Re-install

Getting free and low cost software

Site Licensed Software

Free Software

All the above programs are available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux systems.


Figure images/email2.png [Email image]

Email is a major communication medium at Oxford. Students should read their University email at least once per day, as many tutors use email to contact their students.

The University email service is called Oxford Nexus and is run by IT Services. You will have been registered automatically for an account as soon as you were issued with your University Card.

Using Oxford Nexus

Please note: Oxford Nexus only accepts secure connections from email clients. If you don't set your client up to use up a secure connection, you won't be able to access your Oxford Nexus email account.

Other Nexus Features

Email Spam

Oxford Nexus Quotas

Sharing Information and Files

Nexus Email
  • Can send to and receive from anyone with an email address
  • Can send and receive emails up to 100 MB in size
Nexus SharePoint
  • Can be used by anyone with an Oxford SSO Account
  • Aimed at collaborating on documents, but can be used for a wide variety of other uses - working on a research document, writing something that your tutor can see, keeping documents relating to your Club or Society, etc.
  • Allows multiple versons of documents and version control
  • 500 MB file size limit
  • For more information, see Introduction to SharePoint and the SharePoint Support site
  • WebLearn is Oxford University's virtual learning environment, to create and store materials to support teaching and learning activities
  • Access rights needed to contribute to one or more sites
  • 1 GB default site limit and a 60Mb file size limit
  • Must be set up by someone with an Oxford SSO Account
  • Once set up, can send to and receive from anyone approved by owner
  • Files can be up to 25 GB
  • Self-tidying: files are automatically pruned after a (user-selected) fixed period
  • Can send out notification when files have been uploaded/downloaded
  • Basic security (encrypted file transfer, server verification, and user access control) is included by default
Personal Web Space
  • Available to anyone with an Oxford SSO Account
  • 15 MB of personal web space
  • Develop your own website or use as an online storage area
  • To activate the web space, and later to check space and usage, visit Manage Web Space

IT Resources and Services

These are just some of the many IT services available to you.

IT Learning and Self-Study Resources
  • The IT Services IT Learning Programme (ITLP) offers over 200 different IT courses that can help you with your studies, research, and future careers
  • From fundamental courses in the use of standard office packages through to programming, database design, academic use of office software, on-line presence, and digital media skills
  • Lively, hands-on, teacher-led courses
  • Scheduled courses are normally 3-hour modules, morning or afternoon, held in modern teaching rooms.
  • Courses are low cost, typically under £10 per module to cover resources
  • Many resources are available through the ITLP Portfolio for you to use in your own time
  • Also drop-in sessions, lunch-time byte-size sessions, closed courses, tailored courses and more
  • Windows, Linux and Mac
  • Fully equipped teaching rooms available for hire
  • We engage industry-leading practitioners to teach a wide range of digital media skills including creating digital videos and podcasts, and how to look good in front of a camera.
Mobile Oxford
  • Dedicated web site for smartphone users
    • Search for a library book and be guided to the libraries that have it in stock
    • Look at a map of Oxford to find colleges, departments, libraries, and the nearest pub, cafe, postbox, etc.
    • Get a live feed for bus stops in Oxford telling you when the next bus is arriving
    • Get access to the University’s podcasts
    • Quick search for phone numbers and email addresses of staff and students and lots more
  • WebLearn is the University's web-based virtual learning environment (VLE)
  • WebLearn holds course-specific resources including announcements, handouts, slides, reading lists linked to the library catalogue, discussion forums, electronic assignments with plagiarism scanning, wikis, opinion polls, tutorial sign-up, course events schedule (calendar), newsfeed display, formative assessment (tests), surveys, graduate training course search, and more.
  • Find out more about the facilities offered in WebLearn
  • Your tutor or department will provide you with a link or advise you where to find your course material; alternatively you can browse the system
  • Open access areas are available to everyone; log in with your Oxford SSO Account to access restricted areas
  • All students also get a personal dashboard called 'My Workspace' where all announcements and events are displayed and which also contains a wiki and an online file-store (Resources) for personal use
  • Guidance on using WebLearn
IT Services Shop
Electronic Library Resources
A large collection of online library resources is provided by the central library services, including online journals, bibliographic databases, and past exam papers (OXAM)
Data Backup and Archiving
  • The central Hierarchical File Server (HFS) provides scheduled weekly and on-demand backups of your files to safeguard against computer loss or damage
  • Also offers an archiving facility for data of long-term value to the University
  • Available to senior members, staff and postgraduates
  • Details on the HFS web site
Other IT Facilities
  • Run a keyword search from the IT Services home page
  • Browse the services available A-Z of Services index
  • Refer to the web pages of your college or department for specialist local IT facilities
  • Check the IT at Oxford site for more administrative information about University strategy and committees relating to IT


Figure images/helping-hand.png [Helping Hand clip-art]

Computers, like any piece of equipment, occasionally fail. And working computers may not always do what you want. Many problems turn out to have a fairly straightforward solution that you may well be able to find yourself. This is always worth trying as it is often the quickest route.
1. If your computer is still usable, check on-screen resources:
2. College and Departmental IT Support:
  • If you cannot identify the problem yourself, consult your college or departmental IT support staff. They will be familiar with local IT procedures and will know of current problems affecting the college or department network or servers.
  • New undergraduates who have brought their own computer should seek advice about connection to a college network and college anti-virus procedures from their college IT Staff.
3. Help Centre:
  • Provides technical support and advice to all members of the University on a whole range of IT problems.
  • Gives access to a wide range of expertise within IT Services to which problems can be referred. In some cases, an appointment may be offered to investigate a problem in more detail.
  • Problems with accounts allocated by IT Services which cannot be solved through Self-registration are also handled by the Help Centre.
  • Opening hours are from 08:30 to 20:30 Monday to Friday, excluding English Bank Holidays and the period from midday Christmas Eve until New Year's Day inclusive.
  • Please bring your University card with you when visiting the Help Centre. The Help Centre is at 13 Banbury Road, OX2 6NN
  • Online form:
  • Telephone: (2)73200 Please have your University card barcode number to hand when calling us.


Select your college or hall from the list below and follow the links to the college's local IT information page (if one exists) or the college's home page. Please note: some college IT pages may be restricted to computers connected to the college network.

See Department IT Section for links to departments.

All Souls College Oriel College
Balliol College Pembroke College
Blackfriars Queen's College
Brasenose College Regent's Park College
Campion Hall Somerville College
Christ Church St Anne's College
Corpus Christi College St Antony's College
Exeter College St Benet's Hall
Green Templeton College St Catherine's College
Harris Manchester College St Cross College
Hertford College St Edmund Hall
Jesus College St Hilda's College
Keble College St Hugh's College
Kellogg College St John's College
Lady Margaret Hall St Peter's College
Linacre College St Stephen's House
Lincoln College Trinity College
Magdalen College University College
Mansfield College Wadham College
Merton College Wolfson College
New College Worcester College
Nuffield College Wycliffe Hall

The locations of all colleges have been plotted onto a Google map.


IT facilities and IT support within many (not all) departments are described by departmental web pages. However, the IT-specific pages may be inaccessible to computers outside the department. The links below connect either to departmental IT-specific pages, or, as a fallback, to the department's home web page. N.B. some departments/divisions are not supported by an in-house team but jointly with other departments.

See College IT Section for links to local college information.

The locations of all departments have been plotted on to a Google map.

Computer Usage Rules and Etiquette

The University has various rules and conditions that apply to your usage of the local IT facilities. You are strongly advised to read about the local rules so that you know what is allowed and what's not. For instance, many Peer-to-Peer applications are banned on the network. This includes Skype unless you have configured the software according to our Skype instructions.

Regulations and Policies applying to all users of University ICT facilities - the definitive list.