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.
Your Oxford SSO Account - Your passport to accessing online services
Connecting to the Internet - How to get connected to the University network
Student Registration - Essential for all new and returning students
Solving Hardware Problems - Breakdown services, repairs, upgrades, etc.
Nexus Email - All about the Oxford central email service
Student Gateway - provides a single point of access to information, services and resources for current students
University IT Resources and Services - IT courses, Mobile Oxford, WebLearn and more
Getting Help - What to do when you need a helping hand
Computer Usage Rules - Essential reading
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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
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
Activate your Oxford username
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).
The device should automatically switch between WPA/TKIP and the newer WPA2/AES (which may be called WPA2-Enterprise on the device) based on what the access point it connects to is serving. Some clients (e.g. MS Windows) do not do this and hence require two profiles, one for each type.
RADIUS servers: If asked, the RADIUS servers to authenticate against are
radius1.oucs.ox.ac.uk. If you have to enter them ensure that you enter both otherwise connection might not be possible if one of the pair is unavailable.
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
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.
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.
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:
Viruses and Malware - Protecting your computer from viruses, malware, worms, trojans, adware, etc.
Software Updates - Get the latest to patch vulnerabilities
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)
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
Don't use the Administrator account by default
root. Instead, use a command like
sudoto perform command-line operations requiring root access.
For more guidance about your passwords see the Information Security web pages and lunchtime courses.
‘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.
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:
Most sites that require confidential information now have built-in
security mechanisms. Look for
https:// in the URL and the
padlock icon in your web browser. If these aren't present, criminals may be
able to read the information you send over the internet. However, the mere
presence of a padlock does not guarantee that your information will be
How did you get to the site in the first place? Did you click a link in an unsolicited email message claiming to come from your email provider, bank, credit card company? If yes, steer clear of the site! Instead, type the site name yourself.
Click on the padlock and check the site's certificate. For more information on secure sites see the Government and IT industry's Get Safe Online web pages.
Make sure that your web browser is up-to-date.
Junk messagesfolder and check its contents periodically.
You are strongly advised against the use of websites claiming to check your work for plagiarism. The University provides the Turnitin Service to be used by students and tutors in detecting matched text on the internet. If you are concerned that your work includes plagiarised content you should recheck your work, revisit your sources and check that quotes are referenced correctly.
If you receive a phishing attack that asks for University credentials, report it to email@example.com 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:
Use the privacy settings to restrict how much data others can see, especially people who aren't already your friends in the physical world (e.g. see http://www.facebook.com/safety/).
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.
If you have to leave your computer for any length of time (even if it's in your office), make sure that the computer locks the screen when it activates the screen saver or goes to sleep. The screen can then only be unlocked when the username and/or password are entered.
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:
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.
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.
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
Computer Hardware Breakdown Service
Hardware Repair and Upgrade Services
Data Recovery - Backup and Re-install
Getting free and low cost software
Site Licensed 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
Oxford Nexus offers an easy-to-use, fully featured web-based email service called Outlook Web App (OWA) - https://nexus.ox.ac.uk (no 'www' at the start, and note the 'https').
You can configure your email clients (Outlook, Outlook Express, MacMail, Mozilla Thunderbird, etc.) to work with Oxford Nexus.
You can change your account settings, such as the default address, at Nexus Account Settings.
You can set your email to be forwarded to another system (Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, etc.) via the self-registration pages.
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
Oxford Nexus Quotas
Sharing Information and Files
IT Resources and Services
These are just some of the many IT services available to you.
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.
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|
|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.