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Computing FAQs

Parents often have questions about technology, so the Parent Program has worked with Information Technology (612-301-4357 or and One Stop (612-624-1111 or to address some of the most commonly asked questions.

General Computing Help

Hardware and Software

Internet Connection

Downloading and Copyright

Q: Where can students get computing help?

A: is your student's first point of contact for computer, Internet, and campus phone support. can assist students with email, password, hardware, software, ResNet, campus telephone, and web-based learning course site issues. Help is available by phone seven days a week. Walk-in help is available Mon-Fri. Online help is available 24 hours a day. For more information, see the Office of Information Technology (OIT) website.

Q: What is my student's email address?

A: <Internet ID> Students’ Internet IDs are assigned to them when they first apply for admission. It is eight characters long and is composed of the first few letters of their last name followed by numbers.

Q: Emails to my student are coming back as undeliverable—why?

A: The University employs a spam blocking system. Sometimes legitimate email can appear to be spam to our servers. If your email is blocked by our system, your student can provide you with information as to why (which can be used to fix the problem from your end) as well as make an exception for you so no further emails will be blocked. They can do this on their account settings page.

Q: Are students required to have computers?

A: The University itself doesn't have such a requirement, but a few colleges within the University have computer requirements for certain programs. The college's student services office or your student's academic adviser can provide more information on specific requirements. If your student does not have a computer, computer labs are available for student use in every residence hall, as well as other campus-wide locations.

Q: What computing options are available for students who don't have their own computer?

A: Computer labs are available for student use only. These labs have both Microsoft Windows and Macintosh computers and printers. All residence halls have computer labs for resident use.

Q: What kind of computer should we buy?

A: This is the most common question we get and it is the most difficult to answer. Buying a computer is similar to buying a car. The numerous features available, personal preferences of the buyer, and other considerations make computer purchasing complicated. Here are some questions you should answer:

  • Windows® PC or Macintosh®? The U supports both. Some colleges or departments use specific programs available only on one or the other platform, so check with your student's adviser if you are unsure—otherwise, choose the one your student is most comfortable with.
  • Desktop or laptop? Desktops usually carry more value for the money, are more easily upgraded, and less frequently stolen—but laptops are gaining in popularity due to portability, decreasing cost, and availability of widespread wireless networks. The U has a large wireless network that extends to the libraries and most classrooms. If buying a laptop, we recommend that you also purchase and use a cable lock to prevent opportunistic theft. More information on certified computers can be found on the OIT website.

Recommended Computer Specifications
We recommend that the computer have the following specifications:



Windows PC

Processor (CPU)

G4 (or better)

Pentium 800MHz (or better)

RAM (memory)

512MB (or more)

512MB (or more)

Operating System

OS 10.2 (or higher)

Windows XP (or higher)


Computer Discounts

Check out the discounts available to enrolled U of M students on the OIT website. Students sign in with their Internet ID and password to get educational discounts. Shopping around is always a good idea.

Microsoft and Other Discounted Software

Students are eligible for free or deeply discounted, low-cost software including popular Microsoft products after they register for classes. Visit the OIT website.

Q: What can be done about viruses, spyware, and worms?

A: There are six basic things that we tell students to follow to keep their computers free of infection:

  • Download OS updates.
  • Do not open unexpected attachments.
  • Install Symantec® AntiVirus.
  • Use strong passwords.
  • Disable file and print sharing.
  • Use the computer’s firewall.

More information is available at Safe Computing.

Q: Is owning a printer required?

A: No. Printing is available in residence hall and student computer labs and is charged per page printed. However, many students find that having their own printer is both cost-effective and convenient. Discounts for printers are available to students through the OIT website.

Q: What is needed to connect to the network in the residence halls?

A: Students should bring their own ethernet cable (CAT 5 cable with RJ-45 connector) with them at move-in. They will also need to register to use the network, "ResNet". This includes agreeing to ResNet policies. ResNet policies include conforming to security requirements, being up-to-date with operating systems updates, following copyright law, and acceptable use of network resources. Violation of the ResNet policy results in a denial of access to the Internet. More information is available at ResNet.

Q: Is wireless access available in the residence halls?

A: Yes, but it is limited. Wireless access points are installed in some common areas of residence halls but, due to signal interference, connections cannot be guaranteed in individual rooms. Adding access points to etherjacks within rooms is not allowed; it is considered extending the University's network, which is a violation of the ResNet Network User Agreement.

Q: Will video game consoles work using the ResNet connection?

A: While there is no policy against it, it is usually not possible in a practical sense. The console will need to meet the same requirements that computers do. It must: 1) have a physical address registered for DHCP service, 2) have a web browser, 3) is DHCP enabled, and 4) accept cookies. Additionally, the University does not provide technical support for game consoles over ResNet.

Q: Can off-campus students use the University's network?

A: Yes. Discounted high-speed access is available and Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a free download for eligible students.

Q: Does the University have wireless access?

A: Yes. Wireless coverage includes most areas of campus, including libraries, classrooms, and even the mall area between Coffman Memorial Union and Northrup Auditorium.

Q: Do copyright laws apply to electronic files?

A: Yes. Copyright laws apply to music, movies, games, photos, software, and other files in digital format. Downloading or distributing copyrighted material without explicit permission from the copyright holder is against the law. The University investigates complaints from copyright owners and pursues appropriate disciplinary actions under the Student Conduct Code.


Parent/Guest Access

Q: Can you help me reset my Parent/Guest Access?

A: The "Parent/Guest Access" web application uses X.500 for authentication for both students and parents/guests, any resetting of passwords needs to be done at

If parents have questions about how Parent/Guest Access works, questions about what they are seeing once logged in, or anything not related to login issues, they should contact One Stop Student Services.

Q: I can log in using Parent/Guest Access, but I am not able to view any grade or course information.

A: The student may not have given access to grades or course information. Parents/Guests can always call One Stop Student Services and they can confirm that their access has been fully set up and what level of access was granted by the student.

The access is granted through a step process, so sometimes the confusion is that the parent is not through all of the steps. Basically the steps are:

  1. Student sends email invite generated from the parent/guest access application to parent/guest.
  2. Parent/guest accepts invite via a website and puts in demographic information.
  3. Student is informed that parent/guest accepted invite and has signed up.
  4. Student completes the process by selecting the level of access (they can authorize specific areas of information, including grades, holds, enrollment summary, financial aid status, financial aid awards, student account, housing information, and conduct matters for on-campus housing).

For the complete process see "authorize access to a student record" on the One Stop Student Services website.

If the parent/guest has any questions about the process, needs to confirm that the student has completed the access process, or has any questions once they are logged in, they should contact One Stop Student Services.

Q: I have Parent/Guest Access, but I don’t know where to go to make a payment for my student’s account.

A: In order for parents/guests to view or pay toward a University bill, the student must grant that person access to their “Student Account” through the Parent/Guest Access application. When access has been granted, log in to the Parent/Guest Access application to make a payment. If parents/guests have questions about the process, they can contact One Stop Student Services.

Don't have parent/guest access to your student's records? Find out more about Paying Bills and Student Records Access.