Computing Recommendations for Faculty and Staff (2017-2018)

The USC Technology Council (UTC), in partnership with Information Technology Services (ITS), annually publishes computing hardware and software recommendations for faculty and staff. These recommendations reflect institutional and industry trends but do not necessarily take into account the computing requirements of specific schools or departments.

It is recommended that you consult with your local IT staff to purchase a solution that is best for you.

The chart below provides recommendations for employees with high, medium, or low computing requirements. The following are definitions of the three categories.

  • High: Specialized applications that require high-end data processing and memory usage
  • Medium: Locally installed desktop applications for data processing and administrative work
  • Low: Internet access, email, document creation, or word processing

In all cases, a warranty and hardware lifecycle of three to five years is recommended.

Hardware Recommendations for New Purchases

Computer Component High Medium Low
Processor Intel Core i7 or
AMD equivalent
Intel Core i5 or
AMD equivalent
Intel Core i3/m
or AMD equivalent
Memory 16 gigabyte (GB) with expansion space for up to 32 GB or greater 8 GB with expansion space
for up to 16 GB
4 GB
Hard Drive 256 GB PCIe SSD 256 GB SSD 500 GB HDD or 256 GB SSD

Laptop Security

To ensure the integrity of university data, USC requires encryption on all laptops and mobile storage devices purchased with university funds and/or used for USC business purposes. As an additional security measure, we strongly encourage that users avoid storing any sensitive data on such equipment altogether. Laptops and mobile storage devices must be either a) delivered with built-in encryption (preferred) or b) accompanied by a software-based encryption solution for subsequent installation. All encryption solutions purchased separately must be installed before the instrument may be used to store or access university data. This applies to laptops and mobile storage devices purchased from all sources of university funds, including sponsored project accounts, and applies to laptops and mobile storage devices used for business purposes but purchased with personal funds.

Windows laptops require a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip to use Bitlocker for full disk encryption. Apple laptops running Mac OS X should use FileVault for full disk encryption. Should you have any questions or concerns, please consult your local IT staff for assistance.

Software Recommendations

UTC and ITS recommends operating systems or applications to be no more than two versions older than the most current version available, and that no end of life (EOL) products be used on computers or mobile devices. If an EOL software must be used on your computer, please consult your local IT department, who can assist with providing a solution that will keep the USC network safe and secure.

Function Software Supported Versions
Antivirus Sophos Endpoint Security (REQUIRED) For Windows and Mac OS 10.x or newest available at software.usc.edu
Browser Apple Safari
Google Chrome
Mozilla Firefox
MS Internet Explorer / Edge
Individual applications may have specific browser version requirements.

For information on the most current browser version available, go to:
www.apple.com/safari/
www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/browser/
www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/
windows.microsoft.com/en-us/internet-explorer/download-ie

ITS distributes a variety of software for operating systems free to USC faculty and staff. For more information, please click on the links below. Valid USC NetID credentials is required.

Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are defined as tablets and phones that are running a mobile operating system such as Apple iOS, Google Android, or Windows Mobile.

Devices paid for with university funds are managed and supported by its local IT departments. Please consult your local IT staff if you have any questions or require assistance.

For mobile devices that were purchased with personal funds, ITS and local IT staff will only provide support to assist its users with accessing USC’s network resources, such as USC Wireless and email. Documentation on accessing these resources can also be found through http://itservices.usc.edu.

It is recommended that all users secure their devices by following basic security best practices, such as activating screen lock, enable remote wipe/lock feature (if available) and backing up data regularly. Note: UTC and ITS recommends all software to be no more than two versions

NOTE: UTC and ITS recommends all software to be no more than two versions older than the most current version available and that no end of life (EOL) products be used.

Purchasing Hardware through Business Services-Procurement

Business Services-Procurement has worked with our suppliers to negotiate pricing on laptops and desktops that meet or exceed these standards above. It is recommended that you consult with your local IT staff to purchase a solution that is best for you.

Data Security

All USC faculty, staff and students are required to comply with the university’s Network Infrastructure Use Policy and its stated requirements for the protection of sensitive data. For more information, see the USC Network Infrastructure Use Policy at policy.usc.edu/network-infrastructure.

E-waste

It is recommended that you consult with your local IT staff to assist to dispose of electronic waste responsibly and securely. For more information on e-waste, see the USC Sustainability department’s Electronic Waste page, capsw04.usc.edu/content/electronic-waste.