Computing Recommendations for Faculty and Staff (2016-2017)

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. These specifications will be updated annually.

The chart below provides recommendations for computer users who require high, medium, or low functionality. The following are definitions of the three categories.

  • High: High-end data processing and memory requirements
  • Medium: Mid-range data processing and locally installed desktop applications
  • Low: Basic Internet access and low-end applications, such as Microsoft Office

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 8 GB with expansion space
for up to 16 GB
4 GB
Hard Drive 1 terabyte (TB)
7200 RPM
or 256 GB SSD
500 GB (7200 RPM)
or 256 GB SSD
500 GB or 128 GB SSD

Laptop Security

In order to ensure the integrity of university data, USC requires all laptops and mobile storage devices that are paid for with university funds and/or used for USC business purposes to be encrypted. 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 policy 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 will require a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip to be able to use Bitlocker full disk encryption. Laptops with Mac OS X should use FileVault full disk encryption. Should you have any questions or concerns, please consult your local IT staff for assistance.

Software Recommendations

UTC and ITS recommend 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.

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 freely distributes a variety of software for operating systems (Valid USC NetID login 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 Secure Wireless and email. Documentation on accessing these resources can also be found through itservices.usc.edu.

We recommend all users keep their mobile devices secure by following basic best security practices, such as activating screen lock, enable remote wipe/lock feature (if available) and backing up data regularly.

NOTE: UTC and ITS recommend 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. 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.

eWaste

Whenever possible, choose environmentally friendly and green products. It is recommended that you consult with your local IT staff to assist in the disposal of electronic waste responsibly and securely. For more information on eWaste, see the USC Sustainability department’s Electronic Waste page, green.usc.edu/content/electronic-waste.