Carnegie Mellon University

Tech Quick Start

Get your tech ready for the semester! Follow our guidelines below to get started.

Essentials Checklist   Remote Access Options  Collaborate Online  Access Software  Support

Essentials Checklist

Before class begins, review:


The Right Hardware

To make sure your device is powerful enough to support learning at CMU, we recommend the following or greater.  Always check with your school or instructors, however, as some may have specific hardware requirements.

Hardware Specifications
Processor: Core i5 2.4 GHz
RAM: 16GB
Hard Drive: 512GB SSD
Graphics: Intel® Integrated Graphics
Peripherals
Microphone (if not included)
Webcam (If not included)
Headset (optional)

If you require new hardware or peripherals, the CMU Tech Store is available to assist with your purchase for delivery or pick up.


A Secure Device

Once your device is ready for learning, be sure to update your operating system, apps, and antivirus software.  It's important to secure your device before connecting to shared CMU resources on campus such as the network or Virtual Andrew.


Adequate Internet

On Campus

We've got this one covered. Our campus wireless networks provide all the bandwidth you need. 

  • Use CMU-SECURE for your wireless connection on campus.
  • Use CMU-DEVICE to connect your smart devices, including gaming systems, smart speakers like Alexa or Google Home, and Smart TVs. 

If you experience Wi-Fi issues indoors, contact our Help Center.

OUTDOOR WIRELESS MAP [PDF]

Off Campus

We recommend the following internet configuration for the best class experience:

  • You will need a broadband connection with a download and upload speed of at least 3.0 Mbps per person in your household.
  • If broadband is not available in your area, a cellular data connection of at least 4G capability (5-50 Mbps) or 5G (50-2000 Mbps).
  • Visit https://www.speedtest.net/ and click Go to test your connection.

Tips for Connecting Off-campus

If your internet connection is poor when learning online, consider the following:

  • Try a wired (ethernet) connection. Be aware that you may need an ethernet adapter for your laptop.
  • Check your wireless router. Make sure your router is under five years old and uses Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) security certification and supports both 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands.
  • Re-position your device. Move closer to your Wi-Fi router to increase the strength of the wireless signal to your laptop or mobile device.
  • Avoid performing large file transfers. Your upload speeds will always be slower than your download speeds. Wait until after class to move large files to and from the cloud or across a network.
  • Zoom smart. Virtual backgrounds and HD video are great Zoom features, but they will degrade your bandwidth. Turn them off for a better online experience.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If others on your Wi-Fi network are using streaming services such as Netflix while you're in class, it could impact your Zoom experience. Sync up your schedules with those closest to you to avoid connectivity issues.

If adjusting these items still does not improve your experience, contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

It might be time to update the equipment in your home, such as:

  • Router - allows you to connect to your internet provider's service. 
    SUGGESTED HARDWARE
  • CAT 5e Cable - this cable, often referred to as a patch cable connects your laptop to your router. 
    SUGGESTED HARDWARE
  • Wired Adapter - many newer model laptops do not have a wired (ethernet) input, but you can purchase an adapter for your device.
    SUGGESTED HARDWARE

Take advantage of eduRoam.
To address poor internet connectivity, locate a regional eduRoam partner, and use the shared internet resources at their location.


Set Up Printers

Install campus printers on your computer or mobile device to print to many locations on campus.

Campus Printing


Access to Zoom Before Your First Class

Remote learning takes place over Zoom. Follow our instructions to log in to Zoom with SSO and get started today!

Remember to turn on Canvas notifications to ensure you don't miss important communications about your courses. 


Access to Email

Your email address is your Andrew userID@andrew.cmu.edu. Check your CMU email regularly for official university messages and updates from your instructors. You can read your email using a browser or an app on your mobile device.

Email basics

Remote Access Options

VPN for On-Campus Resources

When you connect your computer or mobile device to a CMU Virtual Private Network (VPN), your device will act as if it's on campus and your connection will be encrypted for increased security. The following options are available:

  • Campus VPN - best for general access to CMU resources like printing and shared network drives.  Provides an encrypted connection for when you're using campus resources, such as campus printers and shared network drives.
  • Full VPN - just like being on campus. All of your online activity is encrypted and redirected through the CMU network. You may notice decreased performance when connecting to this option as all of your activity will be tunneled through the CMU network.

Connect to Resources from Remote Locations

  • Use the Virtual Andrew desktop client for remote access to a Windows desktop. This allows you to use the software, such as browsers and other applications, installed on our Computer Lab machines.
  • To work as though you're on campus, use the Full VPN option to encrypt and route your online activity through the CMU network.  Although this may improve your access to campus resources, it will also slow your internet speed.
  • If you still have difficulty accessing course materials, request that your instructor post the course resources through Canvas for easier access.
  • Still have questions? Contact our Help Center at it-help@cmu.edu or 412-268-4357 (HELP), Monday-Friday, 7:00 am-7:00 pm.

Collaborate Online

Share Files

Use Google Drive or Box to share, store and collaborate on files. Visit our File Storage Comparison page to determine which option is best for you.

File Storage Comparison

Chat with your Group

Want to send direct messages to a person or a small group? Try Google Chat. You can communicate with people throughout CMU using a browser or the mobile app. 

Google Chat

Meet up Virtually

Collaborate virtually using CMU Zoom or Google Meet. Visit our Web Conferencing Comparison page to determine which option is best for you.

Web Conferencing Comparison

Software From Wherever You Are

Download Software

Many software programs like think-cell and Autodesk are available for freeVisit our Software Catalog for the full list of programs you can download. 

Software Catalog

Virtual Andrew

Use Virtual Andrew for remote access to a number of software titles from your Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android devices. This is a great option when software is not available for download or cannot be run on your personal computer due to hardware limitations. 

Virtual Andrew

Cloud Applications

Microsoft Office and Google for Education's suite of tools can be accessed through a web browser, making them the perfect option for any device. You can also download Microsoft Office for free from the Software Catalog.

We're Here for You!

News and More

Stay up to date on tech upgrades and tips with our feature news. Follow the hashtags #TechTuesdayCMU and #TechLifeCMU on YouTube and Instagram for our latest posts.

View the status of services you use daily, like wireless, email and file storage.

Self-Service Help

Have a tech question? Check out the Computing Services website for detailed instructions on all of the resources you use.

Want to learn a new software program or skill? LinkedIn Learning provides thousands of training videos and tutorials on topics ranging from programming languages to strategic thinking and more.

Still have questions? Contact our Help Center at it-help@cmu.edu or 412-268-4357 (HELP), Monday-Friday, 7:00 am-7:00 pm.