Tips and Best Practices

Below are useful tips you should follow with your everyday computer use.

Back up your data!

Computers do not last forever and hard drives do fail. That includes solid-state drives (SSDs)! There is no avoiding this fact and data recovery service is far from cheap.

It is always a good idea to have a second copy of any data that you would not want to lose. This includes (but is not limited to) school papers & other documents, pictures, music library, home videos, etc.

While the Student Technology Support staff will not back up data for you, they can show you how to back up your data and offer advice on best-practices for managing your files.

Data can be backed up in a number of ways. There are online (or "cloud") backup services that will automatically sync files. Most of these services offer a small amount of free storage space and offer you the chance to purchase more if you need it. Some of these services are:

  • OneDrive
  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive

You can also purchase an external hard drive or flash drive on which you can copy files. You will just need to be sure to keep those backups up-to-date. Software like Time Machine (MacOS) and File History (Windows 8) will manage comprehensive and incremental backups for you and are even built into the operating system (i.e. free).

If you use a flash drive on a regular basis, be sure to back up those files somewhere as well. When flash drives are inserted and removed from multiple computers on a regular basis, you increase the chance of getting corrupted files that may not be recoverable. 

Be careful of what sites you visit

Everything is just a click away! Unfortunately, this means viruses and malware as well. Clicking on any link may take you to a malicious site, maybe a legitmate site has been hacked, or maybe ad-space on the site has been filled with an ad with malicious code in it. You may also be asked to install an additional plug-in to your web browser to view certain material on a website; this may (but not always) be malicious. You never know until it is too late.

But you can minimize your chances of your computer getting infected by only going to known legitimate sites. Most of these sites will keep themselves up-to-date and be compatible with the latest versions of web browsers.


Set up a secure password

Your Emory password gets you into almost anywhere: OPUS, Office 365, admissions, Blackboard, etc. You have personal and sensitive information within these areas. That's why STS and LITS recommend you set a complex (but memorable) password. This password should be used for Emory related websites only.

Students can access their network account for password changes

Instructions for changing a password are available.

Passwords will never be requested by any person or organization within Emory University. If you receive a request for your password, be advised that it may be a phishing attempt to compromise your account. What is phishing?

If you have any troubles resetting your password, please contact the Service Desk at 404-727-7777, or visit the STS office.

Keep your software up to date

Software companies release updates to their software for a number of reasons. They can fix bugs, increase compatibility and patch security vulnerabilities.

Student Tech Support sees many computers that have become infected with a virus or other malicious software (malware) that could have been avoided if the operating system, web browser or browser plug-in/extension were up-to-date.

Be wary of free or pirated software

Free software is available on many websites, and some of it is completely legitimate. But, companies that release this free software are in business to make money. Sometimes, they will package another company's software into their install to do this. This might be done by adding a toolbar to your web browser or adding some "interesting" tool to the list of programs that start up when you turn on your computer. Unfortunately, this can slow down your computer over time. You can usually uninstall these programs, but it is up to you to do so (STS will gladly help if possible).

Also, pirated software has its own set of issues. Pirated software is not supported by the company who developed it and thus might not be able to be updated. You also can't know if there was any malicious software that was packaged with the pirated software. By the time you find out, it might be too late.

Be mindful of Phishing attempts.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is an attempt at an attacker gaining access to your accounts. As an Emory student, your email account is your NetID, which in turn is access to all services. What does that mean to you? If you lose access to your email, you lose access to all services, OPUS, Blackboard, workstations, etc. Phishing attempts will commonly indicate your account has problems with security or something similar. Beware of these, as Emory (not even IT) will not email you regarding security. 

  • No one from Emory will never ask you for your email and password.
  • If there is a link asking you for email/password, check the URL (website address). Does it have
  • If you worried about compromised accounts, change your password.

These are examples of phishing attempts.