Skip to content

Smart Computing Practices

Want to keep from getting infected with viruses or spyware in the future? Follow these simple steps, and you'll be well on your way to minimizing your computer problems!

Use Antivirus Software!

Use an up-to-date copy of antivirus software. This means installing a software product such as Symantec AntiVirus or Mcafee VirusScan, and keeping the virus definitions it uses current. New viruses are being released on a daily basis, and if you don't have current virus protection, it is just as bad as if you had no protection at all.

Also note that if your antivirus product works on a subscription basis, you will not receive any updates after your subscription expires. The copy of Symantec AntiVirus included on this disc does not have this limitation.

Manage your OS

Keep your operating system up to date. This means making good use of Windows Updates if you're using Windows, or the Software Update utility if you use a Mac. Install anything listed as a "Critical Update."

Password Protection

Use strong passwords. Ideal passwords have more than 8 characters, including multiple upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, spaces, and other characters (such as commas, semicolons, the pound (#) or at(@) signs, and other uncommon symbols) if the system allows it. An example of an ideal strong password is "a8C$_JW2#,41" -- but if you have trouble remembering passwords like these, try something a little less complex that still means something to you. For example, "nCSu^1776" is a good password to use if you attend NCSU and can remember that the U.S.A. declared itself independent in 1776.

Do not use the same password for everything! Using different passwords for different accounts minimizes the possibility that someone can hijack all of your accounts by simply breaking into one system.

You should change your NCSU password at least once a year, preferably every semester.
Change your password here! (external link)

If you forget your password you will need to get it reset by the NC State Help Desk. Before we can do this we need to make sure that you are who you say you are, and we will do this one of two ways:

  1. ask you to come to the office and show ID in person before resetting
  2. use a series of questions that you complete ahead of time online ( to confirm your identity

Please complete your questions online as soon as you can in order to avoid having to come into the office for your password reset. You will need to know your Unity ID and have the correct password when setting up these questions.
If you have any questions about this process, please contact the Help Desk for assistance.

Back-it Up!

Make backups. Keep at least one copy of your important data on a CD or other removable media, or in networked file space. If the worst does happen, these backups will minimize the loss associated with reformatting or reinstalling.

Common Sense Rules

Use common sense.
Don't open an email attachment from someone you don't know. Don't tell other people what your passwords are. Make sure that you're using a secured connection before submitting confidential information to online sites. Think about the possible consequences of something before you do it, including posting personal information to a social networking site like 'MySpace' of 'Facebook'.

One helpful set of guidelines are the Rules and Regulations for technology use on campus. Many of the things which are policy are also general safe computing practices. Look these up online at (external link). Remember, even if you choose not to read these, you are still responsible for following the rules therein.

Copyright Regulations

Most people know the basic rules associated with copyright: don't share music and movies across the internet. If you have questions about these guidelines here at the university, or beyond, educate yourself. Read more about Copyright Infringement.

More questions?

Check out the IT Essentials page on Safe Computing at NC State. For more information about security on and beyond campus, review our Smart Computing site. Other concerns? Contact the Help Desk at 515-HELP or email


2620 Hillsborough Street
Room 106
Raleigh, NC 27695
Get directions!

Contact Information

Phone: (919) 515-HELP (4357)
Fax: (919) 513-0877
Hours: Monday-Friday