Frequently Asked Questions

To maintain a safe computing environment for everyone on campus, you must run an operating system that receives current security updates.

Windows XP was released in 2001. Support ended in 2010, and extended support ended in 2014.

Windows 7 was released in 2009. Support ended in 2015, and extended support ended in January 2020.

Windows 10 is the current supported operating system for Windows. It was released in 2015. Security updates are released periodically, which are required for continued access to the campus network.

For macOS, Apple provides security updates for the two most recent releases, so supported operating systems are Mojave (released fall 2018) and High Sierra (released 2017). Catalina (released fall 2019) is brand new and will become supported in 2020 after Apple fixes some outstanding bugs.

If you are on Windows, please click the green Biology IT Computer Support Button in your taskbar:

Biology IT Computer Support Button

Otherwise use our support portal which will automatically create a ServiceNow request and notify our team.

Please visit with a member of Biology IT system support staff. We will assist you in selecting appropriate hardware, place the order using an Iowa Board of Regents approved contract, and configure the computer with licensed ISU software. All purchases must be made through this process.

Please do not purchase computing equipment at the bookstore as an ISU student would. This will cause delays, as configuration that would have happened automatically will need to be done retroactively and by hand.

Do not purchase computing equipment from ISU Surplus.

View the latest Biology IT catalog.

First, check if the software is already available to you via Self Service.

If it is not, please contact us as we can tell you if there are already licenses available for your software, or existing agreements in place through Procurement. Your colleagues may already have paid for a site license!

Some rooms (e.g., conference rooms in ATRB and some rooms in Science II) are configured with Solstice, a technology that lets you throw your laptop screen wirelessly to a wall-mounted screen. We have instructions for doing this on Macintosh and Windows.

Contact Ann Greazel at to talk about your website needs. All faculty within Biology IT supported departments (BBMB, EEOB, ENT, GDCB, NREM, PLPM, MICRO) may have a website at no charge.

Please contact us and we will get you set up with a research storage directory that can be accessed from anywhere. Storage is provide by ISU's Large Scale Storage system. The first 2TB is 100% subsidized by the College.

If you have a desktop computer, please leave your computer powered on; simply log off at the end of the day. It is the times that the computer is on but you are not using it that backups and software security updates happen. Your computer uses very little energy when idling, and our default energy management settings put your monitors to sleep after a short time.

You should restart your computer about once a week.

As COVID-19 isolation continues, many employees are making the adjustment to work at home. Biology IT has been working closely with everyone to make sure that computing arrangements are helpful and effective. Here are some common questions we've been receiving.

I have nice monitors at work. May I move these to my home office?

Yes, with the permission of your supervisor (see April 8 message from president Wintersteen). However, there are several questions to ask first. If your monitors are on a special stand that were designed for a certain standup desk, like the ones in ATRB, you might be better off contacting Biology IT for a loaner monitor that comes with its own stand. Also, be aware that there are several kinds of display technologies that require adapters depending on what you are connecting the monitor to. Common standards are HDMI, DisplayPort, miniDisplayPort, DVI, and USB-C.

I have a Dell tower on my desk. Should I move this home?

No. The Dell computers that we use have (1) no wireless capability, (2) no microphone, and (3) no webcam. You are better off leaving the Dell computer attached to the (blazingly fast) network on campus and using Remote Desktop to connect to the computer from your home (see bottom of this page for instructions). Both Macs and PCs can connect to a Windows remote desktop session. If you need a computer for home we can loan you a laptop computer that has a built-in webcam and microphone and WIFI. This laptop can be connected to a large monitor, keyboard and mouse.

I have an iMac at work. Should I move this home?

In her April 8 update President Wintersteen indicated that guidance on tracking equipment is forthcoming. However, if the university permits moving computers home then iMacs should work. Things to watch out for include (1) connecting to the VPN will be necessary for Self-Service to install and update some applications, (2) if you use LSS for your research files or the Isilon (, you may be better off connecting to your computer remotely so that it remains on ISU's stable network.

Warning: if you do move an iMac, do not set it upright, for example on a rolling cart. It may tip, go over the side, and crash to the floor, destroying the glass on the front of the panel. Instead, iMacs should be transported "face-down" on a soft cloth or towel to protect them.

I don't have internet at home. If I move my computer home from my office will that give me internet?

No. You will need your own internet service provider at home.

Will IT come to my home and help me hook things up?

No. But we will do all we can to assist you remotely on university-owned equipment. We have the ability to share screens even if you are off-campus.

What should I not do from my home office?

Right now bandwidth over the VPN is precious. Very many people are connecting from home to the VPN gateway to use campus services.

If you fire up your computer at home, connect to the VPN, then mount your LSS research directory on your home computer and start transfering 30GB files to and from campus, you will be like the person at the office party that took 8 pieces of cake.

Instead, you should use remote desktop to connect to a computer on campus, and transfer/manipulate large files there on ISU's fast network rather than through the VPN gateway's bottleneck.

Note that this does not apply to Box, as Box is located in the cloud and not on campus. See When do I need to connect to the VPN for more details.

How do I connect to my on-campus Windows computer with  "Remote Desktop"?

See our separate how-to documents depending on whether you are connecting from Mac or Windows.



The VPN is needed to make an off-campus computer appear as if it were on-campus.

Thus, when you are connecting to restricted campus resources like a Remote Desktop session, the Isilon (, LSS, internal (not public) websites and so on you need to be connected.

Cloud services like Zoom, WebEx, CyBox, Canvas, and so on do not require a VPN connection.

When you are finished using a campus resource that requires VPN, please disconnect from it.