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LITS Student Guide: 2020-2021

Recommended Computer Standards

Any computer purchased within the past 4 years will serve your needs. The detailed minimum standards that LITS recommends are listed below.

Recommended minimum standards for an existing computer:

  • PC-Windows 10; 8GB Ram; i5 processor; Current anti-virus and malware protection software.

  • MAC-OS 10.14; 8GB Ram; 1.3 GHz processor; Current anti-virus and malware protection software.

Recommended minimum standards for a new or refurbished computer purchase:

  • Latitude 7300 13" / 1.6 GHz quad-core i5 8th Gen processor / 16 GB / 256GB Solid State Drive

  • MacBook Pro 13" / 1.4 GHz quad-core i5 8th Gen processor / 8 GB (16GB recommended) / 256GB Solid State Drive

If you have any questions about hardware, software, or other accessories, email

Work Safe

Antivirus and malware protection

If you are using an existing personal computer, please keep the Operating System and Security Software up to date.  

Free Antivirus Software recommendations:

Free AntiMalware Software recommendation: MalwareBytes

Stay safe onlineundefined

As we spend more time learning, teaching, and working online, it is more important than ever to be mindful of threats posed by scammers and bad actors seeking to disrupt our efforts. LITS asks that you remain vigilant and utilize our resources to stay safe online: 

  • Fortify the security of your Zoom meetings and prevent uninvited guests from disrupting your calls with our Zoom Security Recommendations

  • Learn how to avoid phishing attempts and report suspicious emails in the Phish Bowl

Internet Service

In response to COVID-19, many internet providers are offering discounted service plans and have opened their WiFi Hotspots to the public in an effort to keep everyone connected. These providers include: 

  • All Xfinity WiFi Public Hotspots across the country are available to anyone who needs them for free, including non-subscribers. You can find a map of hot spots here. Just use “xfinitywifi” network name and launch a browser.
  • Comcast is offering an Internet Essentials package to eligible households who are not existing Xfinity Internet customers, and have not subscribed to Comcast Internet within the last 90 days.
  • AT&T is keeping their public Wi-Fi hotspots open for any one who needs them. The service is also offering unlimited internet data and offer internet access for limited income households at $10 a month through the Access from AT&T program.
  • Charter Spectrum is offering Free WiFi Hotspots and free spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 or college students who don't have a Spectrum broadband subscription. Call 1-844-488-8395 to enroll. Installation fees will be waived for new student households

If you do not currently have internet service, and these options will not meet your need, please email

Ensure your best connectionundefined

Next to the internet provider you use, the most important factor is how you connect to the network within a house or other location. Things to consider: 

  • If possible, directly connecting to the internet router or access point via a wired (Ethernet) cable will provide the best quality, especially for audio/video applications like Zoom. If you connect via Ethernet, you don’t need to worry about wi-fi quality.
  • If you need to use wi-fi, the quality of your wireless connection will significantly impact your overall internet quality.
    • Avoid having two or more walls or one floor between your computer and your home’s internet router/access point. 
    • Houses larger than 1,500 square feet or so (depending on layout and building materials) will usually need multiple wireless access points for good house-wide coverage.
    • If you’re using the wireless access point that came with your internet connection, note that these often have average to poor coverage.
    • Consider installing a newer wi-fi access point, or wi-fi mesh networks that cover your home with multiple access points. The Wirecutter by The New York Times regularly tests and recommends WiFi access points and mesh hardware.

Email for support if you are concerned about the reliability of your home internet connection. 

LITS Laptop Loans

LITS has a limited number of laptops available for semester loan.  These laptops are available to students who do not have access to a personal computer, and who need a device to complete coursework.

If you have questions about borrowing a laptop from LITS, please email

Accessories to Consider for Online Learning

Given that all MHC students will be joining some portion of their classes online in the Flexible Immersive Teaching (FIT) model, you may want to consider additional accessories to support your work.

If you need help thinking through the options that are best for you and your learning environment, contact

Accessories to consider:

  • Webcam: Your laptop or monitor may already have a webcam. Look for 1080P resolution if possible.

  • Ethernet cable: This will be necessary if you need to wire into your modem or router. Look for a 10-25 foot cable, depending on the distance you need to cover.

  • USB to gigabit ethernet adapter (or USB-C for new Mac laptops): This will be necessary if you have a laptop that doesn't have an ethernet jack for a hard-wired internet connection. You may want to consider a version with multiple ports in the event you require other connections (e.g., for a monitor, flash drive, headset, etc.)

  • USB headphone/microphone headset

  • USB condenser microphone: This will improve audio on your desktop or laptop, and may be especially helpful if you are participating in a class in which you would prefer not to use a headset (e.g., dance, art, etc.)

Brands we can recommend:

Supply chain demands may make some of these brands hard to find. If you need to purchase from another vendor, LITS strongly encourages using product reviews and your best judgment before purchasing.



Amazon Basics








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Cable Matters





Mount Holyoke has a core set of software tools that are installed and available on all College owned computers, and supported by our Technology Help team. 

College license allows for the following to be installed on personal computers:

Microsoft Office 365 (Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint)

Enter your Mount Holyoke email address at Office 365 for Education and follow the prompts to download Office 365 apps on your home computer. 

  • Please note: LITS does not support Microsoft One Drive as storage. Please use your MHC Google Drive for storage.
  • Microsoft 365 Training 

Mathematica, SPSS, STATA and MatLab

Submit the Academic software for home use request form for access


Instructions for downloading ChemDraw to personal computers can be found at this link:


Staff from the MEWS Teaching Area can answer questions about the different uses of Adobe. Contact them at


LITS offers Zoom as the primary video conferencing option for the campus community, and you will likely use it to participate in class meetings and campus activities. Zoom provides excellent video and audio quality, even over long distances, with extremely high stability and reliability. It is also designed to be intuitive, so users can be self-sufficient once they are familiar with its use.

All Mount Holyoke students can initiate video and audio conference calls of unlimited duration using this tool.

Zoom setup

Use this Zoom link to create an account: Use your Mount Holyoke e-mail address to sign up, to ensure you have access to the account privileges we have purchased for our users.

Testing your Zoom connection is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the tool and all of its features. Go to and click Join to enter a test Zoom meeting, where you can practice muting and unmuting yourself, turning your camera on and off, etc. If you are having trouble connecting to Zoom, email

To change your name, have a temporary name, or display your pronouns in Zoom, visit Zoom videoconferencing. The instructions are located under the heading "Changing your name in Zoom." 


It is important to keep Zoom up-to-date.  This Zoom page provides guidance about how to check for available updates.  If prompted by Zoom to run an update, please do so. 

Review the security tips on our main web site to view additional settings that will improve the security of your sessions.

Additional support

There are a variety of support options available. These include:

If you need additional assistance, email the LITS Zoom Team.


VPN stands for virtual private network. MHC VPN allows us to connect to the MHC network from home (or while traveling) safely and securely in order to access campus resources. VPN makes your connection private and secure. This is important when working with private, secure or high risk college data, as well as if you're on a public wifi.

VPN is only required when using an on-campus restricted software or library resource, or when connecting remotely to a campus computer.  For the majority of student work, VPN is not necessary.

Take a look at the examples below to better understand when you should connect to VPN: 

  • Accessing files on the campus AMBR file server: VPN is necessary

  • Remote access to a microscope computer or campus lab computers: VPN is necessary

  • Accessing library research databases: VPN is sometimes necessary 

  • Accessing your MHC Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Moodle, Zoom, etc: VPN is not necessary

To set up VPN, follow these directions from the LITS website.

VPN can be trickier to set up on Macs. If you are connecting to the VPN on a Mac, follow these instructions to set up the VPN.

If you need assistance, please mail

Moodle Mobile App

Moodle logoLITS recommends that students download the Moodle mobile app for easy access and an alternate way access Moodle course content. Keep in mind that some features of the mobile app will work differently. Learn more about what you can and can't do in the moodle mobile app here.

When you first open the app, you will be prompted to enter the URL of your Moodle site.  Enter "".

MHC Accessibility Barriers Form