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Computer Selection

Do I need to bring a computer to Bethany Lutheran College?

There are no classes that require students to have their own computer. The college provides computer labs for student use in Meyer Hall, Honsey Hall, the Student Union, and throughout the library. The lab computers have standard productivity software and any specialized software students need for class assignments. Most students choose to bring their own computers, and you are encouraged to do so, but it is not necessary.

Should I purchase a desktop or notebook computer?

A desktop computer and monitor typically costs $200 to $500 less than a comparably-equipped notebook computer, and is usually cheaper and easier to repair and upgrade. If you wish to purchase a desktop computer, they can often be found relatively cheaply at most retailers in a package that includes a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers. However, most students choose to bring a notebook computer for portability.

As a student, you qualify for academic pricing on a computer. Sites like JourneyEd.com and Microsoft Webstore are a good place to start, both Dell and Apple have academic stores, and numerous other computer vendors also offer academic pricing.

Is wireless access available?

Yes. Wireless networking is available in all residence halls and in most areas of the academic buildings.

I want to bring a Windows PC to campus. What kind should I bring?

A computer capable of comfortably running Windows Vista, 7, or 8 will meet your computing needs during your time at Bethany. If you wish to purchase a new computer, we recommend a processor with a speed of 2.4 Ghz or faster, 4 GB of RAM or more, and hard drive of 120 Gb 0or larger. If you want to connect to the campus network, your computer will need either an Ethernet adapter or a wireless network card. Most new computer systems come with these specifications or better.

We recommend Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Ultimate, or Windows 8 for student use. Windows' Business and Enterprise editions will work with the network, though they have several features students might find superfluous. We advise students to avoid Windows' Starter editions, as they have several crippling limitations.

I want to bring a Macintosh to campus. What kind should I bring?

To connect to the Bethany network, you will need a Macintosh running OS X 10.2.8 or later, with 10.4 and higher preferred. Macs running on either the PowerPC or the Intel architecture will work with our network. Your Mac will need either an Ethernet adapter or a wireless network card to connect to the network.

Apple does offer education pricing for students, and you can visit the Apple Store for Education for more information.

I want to bring a Linux system to campus. What distribution should I bring?

At this time, we do not support Linux-based systems. However, Linux-based computers can usually connect to the Internet, though you may be unable to access your network-based storage. Again, while we do not support Linux, we have noticed that Linux-using students seem to have the best luck with the Ubuntu or Linux Mint distributions.

What software should I purchase for my computer?

Most computer manufacturers bundle basic productivity software, such as Microsoft Office, with their machines. This software may be a trial version, however, so you may need to purchase the full version of the software or use a free alternative such as LibreOffice.org, a full-featured office suite available for free download. Any specialized software needed for certain classes is available on machines in the computer labs.

If you need to purchase Microsoft Office, we suggest the Office 365 University edition, which includes Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.

Computer Protection

 

How can I best protect myself from phishing scams?

"Phishing" refers to an increasingly common type of on-line fraud. Scammers will send e-mails purporting to be from a financial institution; a bank, for example, or another on-line business, such as eBay. The e-mail usually claims some sort of account problem, and urgently requests you to send in personal information to correct the error, whether via a return e-mail address or through a provided hyperlink. However, once the scammers have personal information in hand, they clean out bank accounts as quickly as possible.

  • NEVER, under any circumstances, put personal information (social security numbers, bank account numbers, etc.) in an e-mail.
  • Beware any e-mails that ask you to act immediately. Phishers often try to create a sense of false urgency, in order to get a potential victim to act before he/she thinks things through.
  • Never follow a link in a suspicious e-mail, since it will often redirect you to a fraudulent site.
  • If you do online banking, always carefully check the address. Phishers often create fake websites to ensnare personal information. For instance, a phishing ring might spoof the legitimate mibank.com site as m1bank.com (note the subtle change of the letter I to the digit 1). Also, when doing online banking, make sure that it is a secure site (an "https" address instead of "http", and your browser should display a small padlock icon in one of the lower corners).
  • Phishing activity often increases in times of national tragedy (after Hurricane Katrina, for instance). Be wary of any e-mails asking for charitable donations.

To test your phishing savvy, try taking this quiz.

How can I best protect myself from viruses?

Having up-to-date antivirus software, such as Microsoft Security Essentials, configured to do regular system scans (daily or weekly), is the best protection against viruses.

That said, powerful and quick-spreading viruses and worms like Blaster, Sober, and SoBig are comparatively rare. More commonly, viruses trick the user into installing it on his or her system. This kind of virus is known as a "Trojan Horse" due to its deceptive tactics. Fortunately, Trojans are often delivered via the same techniques:

 

  • an attachment in a fraudulent spam e-mail
  • masquerading as a useful, free program
  • files available on peer-to-peer networks
  • pornographic websites

A few simple precautions can protect you from Trojan viruses. Never open an attachment in an unsolicited e-mail, and never open a spam e-mail with an attachment. Only download a program from an unknown website if you are certain that it is safe.

How can I best protect myself from malware?

We recommend using the most recent version of Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Google Chrome and being sure to keep it updated. Using previous versions of any of these browsers increases your security risk considerably. Old versions of Internet Explorer are particularly dangerous. Also avoid using peer-to-peer file sharing programs. Many install unwanted ad-producing spyware upon your computer as a means of raising revenue. Also take extreme care when installing browser extensions or toolbars; many carry hidden spyware packages.

My computer came with antivirus software. Will I have to replace it with Microsoft Security Essesntials?

Possibly. Many new computers are packaged with limited 30 or 60-day trial editions of antivirus software. Once the trial period expires, the antivirus software can no longer download updates, and soon becomes useless. Should your computer have a limited trial edition of antivirus software, it would be prudent to replace it with Microsoft Security Essentials.

Will I need to purchase antivirus software?

No. Bethany recommends students use the free Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus program for Windows computers. Typically, Mac computers do not need an antivirus software. If you are a Mac owner and would still prefer to have antivirus software, we recommend Norton, Avast!, or Sophos.

Does my computer need antivirus software?

Yes. You are required to have current antivirus software installed on your computer in order to be able to connect to the network. We use different methods to ensure the safety of our network which may include verifying the software installed on your own computer.

Computer Troubleshooting

My computer is broken. Will IT Services fix it? How much will it cost?

It depends on the nature of the problem. If your computer can't connect to the network, we will do our best to resolve the problem at no charge. This may, under certain circumstances, include the removal of spyware and viruses.

If your computer needs a network card installed, we will install it for the cost of the necessary parts.

However, we cannot do the following procedures on student-owned computers:

  • installing personal printers
  • installing and upgrading hardware other than Ethernet cards (such as memory, hard drives, etc.)
  • reinstalling an operating system
  • supporting personal music players (iPods, etc.)
  • supporting other personal electronics (digital cameras, scanners, DVD players, etc.)
  • supporting computer games

Should your computer require one of these procedures, we recommend you contact your computer's manufacturer (if the warranty is still in effect), or employ a computer repair service.

My computer is running slowly and I see many pop-up ads. What can I do to stop this?

Most likely your computer is suffering from programs called "malware" (which includes adware and spyware). Spyware consists of small programs, usually installed without a user's knowledge, that track web browsing and Internet access. Since this information has marketing value, spyware programs often report back to their creators. Their effects can range from irritating (pop-ups, slow computer performance) to dangerous (total system crash, keyloggers, lost financial information). Note that a spyware program is not the same as a virus, but that they often display similar effects. To remove malware, we recommend using the following programs available for free download:

Malwarebytes is recommended for all Windows Systems below Windows 8. For Windows Vista, 7, or 8, Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection and monitoring against spyware. See also the Microsoft Security Center for more tips on safe computing.

Smartphones

Can I bring a smartphone to campus?

Yes. Either an iPhone or an Android phone will work with our wireless network and email. We do not recommend that students bring a Windows Phone 8 smartphone, since we use Gmail For Education for our email and Windows Phone 8 has difficulties connecting to Gmail.

Does Bethany provide a smartphone for students?

No. Students are welcome to bring their own.

What kind of smartphone should I get?

We recommend either an iPhone or an Android smartphone.

The advantages of an iPhone are its light weight, excellent screen, and vast library of available applications. Additionally, an iPhone will work with Bethany Gmail. The disadvantages of an iPhone are the inability to remove its battery, lack of expandable storage, and single screen size – no smaller or larger screens are available.

There is a vast array of different Android smartphones, with a variety of different options – removable batteries, expandable storage, physical keyboards, and screen sizes ranging from three inches to six inches and larger. Additionally, an Android phone will work seamlessly with Bethany Gmail, since Google develops both Gmail and Android. The disadvantage of an Android smartphone is that it may take some research to find a model that you like and is supported by your wireless carrier.

Generally, we have had the best results with the Samsung Galaxy S line of phones, the HTC One, and the Motorola Droid phones.

What carrier should I get?

This depends on your budget and data needs. If you are already a member of a family plan, it may be more economical to stay with that family plan. Purchasing a plan and a smartphone through a major national carrier like Verizon or Sprint generally means you can buy a smartphone as a subsidized price, and have access to technical and customer support if your phone breaks. The downside is that you will likely pay a higher monthly fee. If you are purchasing your own phone/data plan, you might want to consider a prepaid plan like Net10 or Tracfone. These plans generally offer unlimited talk and data for a lower cost per month, though there are usually hidden caps that come into play after a certain amount of data consumption. The downside is that prepaid plans usually have poor to nonexistent customer support, and the smartphones are not subsidized, which means you will have to pay a higher initial cost for your phone.

Do I need to worry about viruses on my smartphone?

For the most part, iPhones and Android smartphones are generally secure from viruses. The most likely way to get a virus on your iPhone is to “root” the phone and install applications from a third-party source. For Android, it is easier to get a virus, but it also takes some work. Most Android viruses come from sketchy apps in the Google Play store (pornographic apps are often malware vectors, as are third-party knock-offs of popular apps) or from third-party app stores on the Internet.

Generally, so long as you obtain apps from the iTunes Store or the Google Play store (and avoided pornographic and pirated apps), you shouldn’t have to worry about viruses on your smartphone.

Tablets

Can I bring a tablet to campus?

Yes. Either an iPad or an Android tablet will work with our network, though we currently do not support  printing from tablets.

Does Bethany provide a tablet for students?

No. Students are welcome to bring their own.

What size of tablet should I get?

Generally, tablets tend to come in two sizes – small tablets that have a screen size of seven to eight inches, and larger tablets that have screens ranging from 9.7 to 10.6 inches. The advantage of a smaller tablet is that the battery life is typically better, due to the smaller screen, and that smaller tablets are usually cheaper than larger models. The disadvantage is that the smaller screen is harder to type on, and harder to read due to the small size. The advantage of a larger tablet is that the larger screen can display more information. Additionally, with a Bluetooth keyboard or a keyboard case, a larger tablet can sometimes act as a substitute for a laptop. The disadvantage is that a larger tablet has worse battery life, due to the necessity of powerful a screen. Additionally, larger tablets are usually more expensive than a smaller device.

What kind of tablet should I get?

Either an iPad or an Android tablet.

An iPad or an iPad Mini offers several advantages. Both the screen quality and the battery life are good, and the iPad has access to a vast library of tablet apps via the iTunes Store. Additionally, with a Bluetooth keyboard or a keyboard case, an iPad can act as a laptop substitute. The chief disadvantage of the iPad is its cost – an iPad or an iPad Mini can cost substantially more than a comparable Android tablet.

Android tablets come in a wide variety of sizes, with 7 inch and 10 inch screens being the most common. Android tablets are usually cheaper than a comparable iPad, and often have a slot for a microSD card, allowing you to store more data than an iPad. As with the iPad, an Android tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard or a keyboard case can sometimes act as a laptop substitute. The disadvantage of the Android tablets is that there are so many models and sizes that it can take some research to find one that meets your needs.

Generally, we have had the best results with the Samsung Galaxy line of tablets, the ASUS Transformer tablets, and the Google Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets.

Do I need to worry about viruses on my tablet?

For the most part, iPads and Android tablets are generally secure from viruses. The most likely way to get a virus on your iPad is to “root” the tablet and install applications from a third-party source.

For Android, it is easier to get a virus, but it also takes some work. Most Android viruses come from sketchy apps in the Google Play store (pornographic apps are often malware vectors, as are third-party knock-offs of popular apps) or from third-party app stores on the Internet.

Generally, so long as you obtain apps from the iTunes Store or the Google Play store (and avoid pornographic and pirated apps), you shouldn’t have to worry about viruses on your tablet.