Computer purchase guidelines

Deciding on a computer purchase

Do I have to buy a computer? Are computers and printers available for public use?

Middlebury has more than 400 PCs and Macs in public computer laboratories, classrooms, and the library. Laser printing is readily available in public labs, several public spaces (Mahaney Center for the Arts, MiddExpress, and the Chateau), and the libraries. Students are not required to have a computer but most find it extremely helpful to have their own. Some students opt to bring their own printers as well.

What type of computer should I buy? What computers do most students use?

  • Students typically prefer having a laptop to having a desktop. Laptops are more expensive than desktops of similar-quality hardware, but students generally value the portability that laptops provide. The libraries and other common spaces are equipped with outlets, network jacks, and wireless access so that students can easily use their laptops in multiple locations.
  • PC or Mac: Both are well-supported on the Middlebury campus. Macs are more commonly used by students than PCs. PCs tend to be cheaper than Macs. Typically, Mac computers require slightly less support and maintenance than PCs do.
    Please note that Linux is not officially supported by the Middlebury infrastructure, however most Middlebury resources work well with Ubuntu Linux.
  • More expensive doesn't necessarily mean more functional. Students use their computers primarily for word processing, email, music, and internet browsing; any popular computer model will meet all of these needs.
    • Advanced statistical analysis, video / graphics editing, or gaming will require a higher-end computer.
    • Netbooks, or low-end mini laptops, are extremely cheap and are capable of word processing, web browsing, email, music, and so forth. Perhaps their biggest limitation is that the tiny screens and tiny keyboards can be uncomfortable to use.

Software and accessories

What software is available to Middlebury College Students?

The following software is available free of charge to all Middlebury users:

  • Microsoft Office: Middlebury College has licensing for Microsoft Office for all regular year Middlebury College students. It is available for download at go/getoffice once students are on campus.
  • Sophos AntiVirus: Middlebury College has licensing for all regular year Middlebury College students. It is available for download at go/sav once students are on campus. It is not available for download for people who are off campus.

How do I purchase other computer accessories?

The College Store located in Proctor Hall offers very basic computing accessories, such as ethernet cables, diskettes, blank CD's, Zip disks, and surge protectors. Other accessories can often be purchased online for reasonable prices. Here are two good resources in finding reasonable prices on accessories:

  • PriceWatch.com-- an index for pricing individual computing products from ethernet cards to external CD-burners. Companies sign up to be listed and you may query Pricewatch's database of prices.
  • C-net.com-- an index for prices along with a resource for reviews of equipment. Product range is similar to PriceWatch.com.

Another local resource includes Computer Specialists Inc., located in Middlebury, Vermont. The phone number for this company is 388-1444.

Computer Support

Where can I get help with my computer?

Help documents are available and assistance can be requested from the Help Desk website. If you need personalized assistance, you can contact the Help Desk via email to helpdesk@middlebury.edu or by calling (802) 443-2200. In some cases, we are available to assist with hardware troubleshooting and diagnosis, but we remind you that you may want to contact the manufacturer of your computer for assistance. Additionally, there are a variety of Internet-based help resources and manufacturer's help available. Local vendors are available to perform many out-of-warranty computer equipment repairs.

Security and protection

Is theft a problem with laptop computers?

Laptop theft at Middlebury College is not common, but is a real concern nonetheless. Statistics on crime at Middlebury are available from Public Safety. Some computers have been stolen when students left them unattended in public areas such as dining halls, libraries, or lounges. Most thefts can be prevented by keeping rooms locked and / or using locking kits. Homeowner insurance policies can often be extended to cover a student's computer while at College; we recommend this when possible. Check with your insurance company for details.

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