Computers & Software

HMS Information Technology

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Computers & Software

IT staff work very hard to make sure our customer service is exemplary. Proper functioning desktop computers, laptops, and software are essential to the HMS community so our Service Desk is always available to consult, repair or troubleshoot if you need assistance.

Backup & Recovery Software
Device Repair & Maintenance
HMS TechRefresh
Personal Computer Repair
Recommended Software
Harvard Software Licenses
Additional Computer & Software Support

Backup & Recovery Software

The Centralized End User Backup Service allows quad-based faculty and staff to backup the most critical data on their HMS computers. The service utilizes a client software application called CrashPlan PROe (CrashPlan) on each computer. To learn more visit the Backup & Recovery. Installation instructions can be found on the Downloads page.

Device Repair & Maintenance

Harvard Medical School’s provides warranty repair on Harvard own laptops, computers, and printers at no cost to you. Departments are financially responsible for out of warranty repair parts; labor is provided at no cost to you. For more information please contact your department's CSR.

HMS TechRefresh

  • Provides discounted laptops, desktops, & printers as needed
  • Provides upgrades, maintenance, & repairs as needed
  • Repairs are handled & returned to the user as soon as possible, though maintenance time depends on the size of the issue
  • Loans spare laptops to user if computer was purchased from Harvard

To learn more about this program please visit the TechRefresh page.


Purchasing Hardware
The IT department purchases its hardware through the HMS techREFRESH program. techREFRESH enables HMS faculty, staff, & students with cost-effective standards for purchasing equipment such as laptops, monitors, printers, etc. Review HMS computing standards and frequently asked questions about the HMS techREFRESH program. Our IT staff strongly recommends that you always purchase an extended warranty to protect your computer hardware investment.

Purchasing Software
Harvard University Information Technology (HUIT) Products and Services has closed as of October 28, 2014.

Departmental purchases of most software can made using SHI via HCOM.

Personal Computer Repair

Harvard University Information Technology partners with Computer Loft and Tech Computers Inc. to provide laptop and desktop repairs and upgrades for Apple, Dell and Lenovo computers personally owned by Harvard University students, staff or faculty.

  • Computer Loft is an Apple Premium Service Provider located in Allston. Visit Computer Loft for more information.
  • Tech Computers Inc. is the repair service recommended for Dell and Lenovo computers. Visit Tech Computers Inc. for more information.

If you have any questions about getting a personal computer repaired, please email the IT service desk at

Recommended Software

HMS IT Supported Operating Systems

The computer operating system runs everything on your computer. Before upgrading to the latest and greatest, please review the following information.

Important Note: If the computer is connected to scientific equipment and runs specialized software, please check with your departmental Client Service Representative before upgrading.

Macintosh Computers
In September 2016, Apple released its next generation operating system, macOS 10.12, aka ”Sierra”. HMS IT has tested macOS 10.12 Sierra with the HMS standard desktop applications and has found only minor issues, most of which can be addressed through manufacturer updates.  The HMS Secure VPN has been updated to provide compatibility with macOS Sierra.  As of November 2016, macOS 10.12 Sierra is fully supported by HMS IT. If you have any questions contact your local Client Services Representative or the HMS IT Service Desk at 617-432-2000 or email

Windows Computers

Windows 7
Windows 7 is the latest Windows operating system fully supported by HMS IT and Harvard University Information Technology (HUIT).   Windows 7 is compatible with all HMS and Harvard University Administrative, Financial and Research applications.

Windows 10
If you wish to upgrade to Windows 10, HMS IT encourages you to first contact your local Client Services Representative.  They can provide you with the necessary guidance regarding the feasibility of upgrading your computer to Windows 10. HMS IT will assist in making recommendations, upgrading and providing ongoing support for Windows 10.

Windows 10 Background

Over the past year a team within HMS IT has been evaluating Windows 10.  This team has found Windows 10 to be largely compatible with most of HMS’s standard desktop applications, although many applications, particularly some specialized research applications, must be updated by the vendor in order to be fully compatible.  Other applications may be noted as incompatible, but may still work with limited functionality.  These applications may not be updated by the manufacturer.

The primary considerations during the evaluation process were:

  • Compatibility with HMS standard desktop applications.
  • Compatibility with Harvard University Administrative and Financial systems
  • Compatibility with common research applications (ChemOffice, FlowJo,  LaserGene, Metamorph, and Metamorph)
  • User interface changes

While support for Windows 10 on Harvard University administrative and financial systems is improving, University applications are not fully compatible with Windows 10 at this time.  If you use university Administrative Applications, please make sure to follow HUIT’s desktop support guidelines.  More information can be found here:

Purchasing computers with Windows 10

Until further notice, all TechRefresh Windows computers will continue shipping with Windows 7. Dell continues to ship Windows 7 as the default Windows operating system on new OptiPlex, Precision and Latitude computers.  Dell consumer models are currently shipping with Windows 10, and cannot be downgraded to Windows 7.

If you have any questions contact your local Client Services Representative or the HMS IT Service Desk at 617-432-2000 or email

Important Notes:

  • Windows 10 HOME Edition is not supported on the Harvard Medical School network due to lack of required security features.
  • Windows 10 includes a new automatic upgrade feature.  If you are accessing any university administrative applications and are prompted to upgrade to Windows 10, please decline the upgrade.

HMS Recommended Software

Computer application needs vary by job function. Mostly everyone will need access to Word Processing and email; others may require presentation, image management and video editing software. As a general rule HMS Information Technology recommends the following:

  • An office suite (word processing, email, spreadsheet, etc.)
  • Adobe Reader
  • Backup Software
  • Antivirus
  • An appropriate browser

For a listing of specific applications, review the standard computer setup we use for our techREFRESH computers.

More information:

How do I purchase software licenses for applications not pre-installed?

Visit (login required) for licenses available to Harvard faculty, staff and students. In most cases, these applications can be installed for you by your departmental Client Services Representative.

Harvard Software Licenses

Harvard University Licensed Software Eligibility
Eligibility can vary by vendor. On quad HMS/HSDM faculty and staff can purchase software at a reduced cost for use on Harvard owned computers. 

Available Software Titles
  • Adobe applications such as Acrobat, DreamWeaver, Illustrator and Photoshop
  • FileMaker Pro desktop and server software
  • Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint) as well as Visio and Project
  • Research analytic software such as MathWorks and SAS

For a complete listing of Harvard licensed software, visit Harvard Note: Log in required.

Purchasing Software Licenses

Microsoft Software
Harvard University has a multi-campus licensing agreement for Microsoft desktop applications and server software. Licenses are free, for use on Harvard owned computers, to on quad HMS/HSDM faculty and staff. Contact your HMS Client Services Representative or the HMS IT Service Desk at 617-432-2000.

SAS Business Analytics
The department of Health Care Policy manages SAS licensing for the Medical and Dentals Schools. Send email to for more information and to arrange for software installation.

Other Software
Adobe, EndNote, FileMaker, operating system and virtualization software can be purchased through visit Harvard

Additional Computer & Software Support