Student Guide

The Department of Information Technology staff welcome you to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. We know getting started can be overwhelming so we are here to help. Below you will find important information on accessing the resources available to you. If you have any questions or issues contact us.

Need help or have a question on getting started? or 617-432-HELP (4357)

Laptop requirements

To ensure you have an optimal learning experience while using VDI, Zoom, Canvas, etc. you will need a:

  • reliable, high-speed internet connection
  • modern and updated web browser (e.g., a recent version of Firefox or Chrome)
  • web camera and microphone (integrated into computer or USB peripheral)
  • Operating system:
    • Windows 10
    • Mojave (10.14), Catalina (10.15), or Big Sur (11)
    • Note: VDI will not run on ChromeBooks, Linux, iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android devices and Windows XP
  • Hardware (PC or Apple):
    • Intel i5 or i7 processor
    • 8GB of RAM  or more

Incoming students – Getting started

Accessing VDI is powered by the VMWare Horizon Client and all you need is an internet connection.

HarvardKey is Harvard University’s unified credential for accessing a wealth of University applications and services with a single, convenient login name and password.

Student email at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health is powered by Microsoft O365. Incoming students must follow a self-service process to activate your account. Please note: access to your Harvard Office 365 account expires 230 days after your graduation date.

Zoom is SPH IT’s self-service web conferencing option. As a current student of SPH you may login to Zoom and start connecting today!

  1. Go to:
  2. Click “Sign in”
  3. Use your HarvardKey login

Test the speed of your home network to help provide IT staff with important information to troubleshoot any issues you may experience online.

Need help or have a question on getting started? or 617-432-HELP (4357)

Mobile Computing

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health encourages mobile computing. Wi-Fi coverage extends through all HSPH buildings, and HSPH web sites are designed with the mobile user in mind. The IT Department offers support for both iOS and Android portable devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Need help or have a question on mobile computing? or 617-432-HELP (4357)

Computer Software

Student computing software is available for student use in all computer labs, as well as on the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). VDI allows students to access a virtual computer lab from any internet connected computer.

Microsoft Office365 applications are also available for free download from your O365 account. You can download this software on up to five computers. The software licenses expire when your account does, 230 days after your graduation date.

Need to make a software request? Help with VDI? or 617-432-HELP (4357)

Student VDI

  • 2-Step Verification is required to log in to Student VDI.
  • Student VDI contains licensed software used for coursework. Click here for a complete inventory of software.
  • To download the VMware Horizon View client software and begin using VDI, please visit our VDI FAQ.
  • Student VDI is non-persistent. Changes to Windows 10 – such as desktop customizations and user software installations – are NOT saved upon logging out or restarting.  (This includes the following folders: Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Videos.)
  • Student VDI times out after being idle for 90 minutes. This means you will be logged out after 90 minutes of inactivity, and any unsaved work will be lost.
  • It is advisable that you save your work to your network P: drive before taking a break that will result in 90 minutes or more of inactivity on your Student VDI computer. Do NOT store files directly on Student VDI. Files stored on the Student VDI desktop will be deleted upon logout/disconnect.
  • For best quality, join video conference calls from your laptop, PC, or tablet rather than from VDI. Click here for tips on running VDI and Zoom at the same time.


A student printing tutorial video is available here.

The VDI system is connected to high-speed printers located in Kresge LL-19, Kresge LL-6, Kresge 2nd floor, the FXB G level Lobby, and FXB Room G11. The printers are collectively known to as “ICF-Kresge-Common on PHAROS” in VDI. Printing to the “ICF-Kresge-Common on PHAROS” in VDI will generate a print job that can be released at any of the above printer locations.

Students have an initial printing allowance of 500 or $25 of free pages (5¢ per page) and can add additional pages to their account. Additional pages are 5¢ per page.

Printed output is double-sided by default, and multiple-pages-per-side printing can be requested on a job-by-side basis. We encourage you to use these features in order to conserve paper.

How do I...

  • Add additional pages to my printing account (alternative: the kiosk located by the cafeteria)
  • Copy: Two copy machines are located on the ground floor of the Kresge Building. Copiers use Crimson Cash at a cost to students of 5¢ per page.
  • Fax: A student fax machine is available in Kresge LL-19 that is available at no cost.
  • Scan to Email: Both the Kresge LL-19 Ricoh device in the glass-walled room and Countway Library have scanners that are available at no cost.

Need help with printing? or 617-432-HELP (4357)