Got Backup?

Hard disks fail. If you don’t back up your data on a regular basis, we can help you get a system set up.

If you’ve experienced a data loss due to hard drive failure, chances are that you’ve got a backup system in place. If you haven’t experienced a data loss, don’t worry, you’ll be a member of the club some day–unless you’re backing up your data on a regular basis.

These days a backup system is pretty painless–you can either back up to an external drive on an automatic basis, or sign up for an online backup system such as Carbonite.

If you need to put a backup plan in place, we have backup drives available for purchase through a departmental charge. A 1 Terabyte backup drive (sufficient for the vast majority of users) is $60 and a 2 Terabyte backup drive is $100. To buy one of these drives contact the IT Helpdesk, give us a departmental charge number, and you can stop by and pick up your drive. If you’d like assistance setting up the drive and starting the backup, make an appointment with an IT technician through the IT help desk.

Firefox and Thunderbird FAQs

Here are a few quick tips to optimize Firefox and Thunderbird, based on questions we’ve been asked recently.


Firefox is using Yahoo instead of Google to search.

Recent Firefox updates force a change of the default search engine from Google to Yahoo, which a lot of people find annoying. To switch the default back to Google (or your favorite):

  1. Click on the magnifying glass in the search box on the upper right of your Firefox browser window.
  2. Select “Change Search Settings” at the bottom of the list.
  3. Select your Default Search Engine as desired.
  4. Close the preferences page and you’re all set.

Firefox gets hung up when I use Web UI.

The most recent version of Firefox (41.x) is incompatible with Web UI. We suggest rolling back to a previous version of Firefox, version 38. We particularly like the Extended Support Release (ESR) version because it doesn’t get updated as frequently as the general release. Go to and download and install the appropriate version of it.

Firefox tells me there’s an update but it doesn’t successfully install it.
You can always update Firefox manually. Follow the instructions above for downloading the latest ESR version. (If you prefer to have the latest version, which may have incompatibilities with various web programs, you can get it at .)

When I try to drag Firefox into my Applications folder on my Mac it tells me I don’t have the right privileges.

  1. Download the new version of Firefox.
  2. Quit Firefox.
  3. Open up your Applications folder, and drag Firefox to the trash. Don’t worry, it will still have your settings, history, and bookmarks.
  4. Drag the new Firefox icon into your Applications folder.

Firefox doesn’t display PDF’s correctly.

Firefox has a built-in PDF viewer, and there are also add-on PDF viewers for Firefox. The add-ons tend to get out of date as Firefox is updated, which can cause problems. We recommend that you disable any add-ons, and then either use Firefox’s built-in viewer or choose to open PDF’s in a separate application, like Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Reader, or the Mac’s Preview.

To disable add-ons:

  1. From the Menu button (three horizontal lines over on the top right side of the window), select “Add-ons.”
  2. With “Extensions” selected on the left, scan for any “PDF” or “Adobe Acrobat” or “NPAPI” listings, and disable any you find.
  3. Select “Plug-ins” on the left, and again look for anything labeled with “PDF” or “Adobe Acrobat,” and if you find any set them to “Never Activate.”
  4. Close up the Add-on tab.

To choose whether Firefox uses its built-in PDF viewer or another application:

  1. From the Menu button (three horizontal lines over on the top right side of the window), select “Preferences.”
  2. Select “Applications” from the panel on the left.
  3. Scroll down to find “Portable Document Format” or “PDF” in the “Content Type” column, and select it.
  4. In the “Action” column choose “Preview in Firefox” or select another application to open PDF’s.
  5. Look for any other instances of “Portable Document Format” or “PDF” in the “Content Type” column, and change as desired.
  6. Once you’ve changed all instances close up the Preferences tab and you’re all set.


Thunderbird tells me there’s an update but it doesn’t successfully install it.

You can always update Thunderbird manually by going to and downloading and installing the latest version.

When I try to drag Thunderbird into my Applications folder on my Mac it tells me I don’t have the right privileges.

  1. Download the new version of Thunderbird.
  2. Quit Thunderbird.
  3. Open up your Applications folder, and drag Thunderbird to the trash. Don’t worry, it will still have your email and settings.
  4. Drag the new Thunderbird icon into your Applications folder.

While I’m typing, every once in a while Thunderbird pauses and doesn’t keep up with my typing.

A recent update to Thunderbird includes the Lightning Calendar add-on. If you set this up to sync with an online calendar you may notice these symptoms. In that case we recommend turning off the Lightning calendar functionality (or you could just disable the online calendar). To turn off Lightning:

  1. From the Menu button (three horizontal lines over on the top right side of the window), select “Add-ons.”
  2. Find “Lightning” and click “Disable” or “Remove.”
  3. Close the Add-ons Manager tab. You may have to quit Thunderbird and start it again to actually get rid of Lightning.

To remove a synced calendar without removing or disabling Lightning:

Lightning requires at least one calendar, so if you only currently have one calendar you must add another before you can sync it. To do this:

  1. Select “Calendar” from the “Events & Tasks” menu.
  2. Right-click (or Control-click on a Mac) on the calendar pane and select “New Calendar.”
  3. Choose “On my Computer” and click “Next.”
  4. Give the calendar a name and create it.
  5. Now that you’ve got at least one calendar besides the one you’re deleting, you can right-click click (or Control-click on a Mac) on the calendar you want to delete and choose “Delete.”

The Student Diagnostic Center

If you’re having problems with your personal computer at home, the Student Diagnostic Center is a great, free resource. The Sudent Diagnostic Center is available for students, faculty, staff, and alums. The Student Diagnostic Center may be able to help you recover your work before you send your Mac or PC for repair, even if it’s still under warranty.

What We Can Do:

  • We will make every effort to save all of your school, work and other important data. We have data recovery software that can often pull files from damaged hard drives.
  • We can remove Spy-ware, Ad-ware, Pop-ups, and Viruses from your computer.
  • We can resolve Windows and Macintosh configuration issues that are creating problems on your computer.
  • Upgrade important software on your computer to make your system functions the way it’s supposed to.
  • Occasionally work small miracles and save your data from a dead computer.

We Cannot:

  • Give you software that you do not have.
  • Fix hardware problems for computers under warranty.
  • Give you a new copy of Windows.

The DC is located on the third floor of the Library, turn right as you step out of the elevator, then a quick left & it’s on your left. The direct telephone number is 413-559-6602. Before you bring in your computer, please know a few things:

  • We are normally open from 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday (we’re just getting up to speed for the semester, so the hours might be a little quirky). If the door is closed during working hours try knocking anyway, and a staff member might be able to help. You cannot pick up or drop off your computer any time other than within these hours, so you probably shouldn’t bring in your computer at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday evening unless you don’t mind it sitting in our office all weekend.
  • If you have a laptop computer, please bring the power supply for your laptop.
  • If you have a desktop computer, we do not need you to bring any cables at all. Just bring in your tower. We have a hand cart that you can borrow as long as you leave us ID.
  • Make sure you have all the disks that came with your computer and software. If we need to reinstall your operating system, we need to have the install disks to reinstall software.
  • Check your warranty information. Remember, we cannot fix some computer problems when the computer is still under warranty.

You can contact the SDC at, or give them a call at 413-559-6602.

Learn more about the student diagnostic center »

Keeping Web Contact Info General

Your department’s contact information will be easier to maintain if you avoid using specific names and email addresses. If you need a departmental email alias, just ask.

Keeping web content current is a perpetual project, so it’s worth investing a little time up front to minimize potential changes. As much as possible keep names and individual contact information confined to the department’s staff contact or profile page. When contact information is being given on other pages use a general reference and email address; instead of “Contact Mary Smith at” you might say “Contact us at”

If you would like to set up an email alias for someone in your department, submit an IT ticket specifying what you would like the alias to be and to whom the email should be routed. For more information contact

Time to Get Your Inbox Back in Shape

If you tend to go over quota with your Hampshire email, or if your email feels too disorganized, now might be a good time to make some quick adjustments.

In Thunderbird, the “Local Folders” section contains folders that are stored on your computer, rather than on the server. This is a good place to archive messages that you aren’t quite ready to throw out. If you don’t regularly clean out your Inbox, a quick once a year archive might be just the ticket. If an academic year schedule makes the most sense for you, now’s the time.

  1. To create a new folder, in Thunderbird select “File–>New–>Folder”; if you prefer, you can right-click on “Local Folders” instead.”
  2. From the dropdown list, choose to make it a sub-folder of “Local Folders.”
  3. Give the folder a name, such as “Inbox 2014 – 2015”. We don’t recommend using a “/” character in the name, even if you’re allowed to.
  4. Now you can drag messages into the folder. Click on the first message in your inbox that you want to move.
  5. Now shift-click (that is, hold down the shift key while you click) on the last message that you want to move. This will select all of the messages in between.
  6. Drag the block of messages into the new folder. Or, you can right-click on the block of messages and choose “Move To>” and then select the folder you created above.

That’s all there is to it. Plan to do this once a year–if you put it on your schedule now, you won’t forget to do it next year.

If you’d like other tips on organizing email, check out some of these Tech Tips:

Pasting Text into TheHub

It’s often easiest to type text into a word processor that you’re familiar with, and then copy and paste it into a web form. This week we have seen some problems when pasting into TheHub, both in Safari and Firefox. Fortunately there is an easy work-around: use keyboard shortcuts.

Mac Shortcuts
On a Mac, keyboard shortcuts use the “Command” key (also called the “Apple key”). That means you hold down “Command” while typing the appropriate key. Some handy keys to memorize:

  • Copy is Command-C.
  • Paste is Command-V.
  • Undo is Command-Z.
  • Cut is Command-X.
  • Select all is Command-A.

Windows Shortcuts
On a PC, keyboard shortcuts use the “Control” key. That means you hold down “Control” while typing the appropriate key. Some handy keys to memorize:

  • Copy is Control-C.
  • Paste is Control-V.
  • Undo is Control-Z.
  • Cut is Control-X.
  • Select all is Control-A.

Treat your Power Cord Well

We’ve been seeing a lot of damaged Mac laptop power adapters recently. These adapters require a little bit of special care because they’re vulnerable to damage.

Apple Power Adapters are Poorly Designed
Apple is known for its design, but to us the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air power adapter design has always been flawed. The plastic covering frays or shows strain at the juncture at either end of the cord on many adapters. If you use the little power block “feet” to wrap your cord (as intended), it’s easy to damage the cord by wrapping tightly time after time–the power cord becomes kinked and can fray inside or out.

Treating your Power Adapter Well
In our opinion, you really shouldn’t have to think so much about how you treat your power adapter, but if you want to avoid the inconvenience and possible expense of replacing your adapter pay attention to how you treat it. To take the best care of your adapter:

  • Don’t do anything that forces the adapter to bend right at a juncture.
  • Don’t always wrap it in the same exact way.
  • Don’t wrap it tightly.
  • Don’t crimp it by running it through too tight a space.
  • Don’t force it to bend sharply.

When should you replace your power adapter?

  • If your power cord develops any sort of crack or tear in the plastic that covers the wires, replace it right away.
  • If your power adapter doesn’t charge your laptop, first check that there is no debris in the computer port blocking a good connection (we often see tiny metallic fragments that are attracted to the magnetized port). If it still doesn’t charge, have it checked out by a technician.
  • If your power cord is kinked but still works, try changing the way you store it.

If you do need to replace the power cord, Apple will replace it if the problem is caused by normal usage (they don’t cover cat damage, for instance) and it is still under warranty. In order to have it replaced under warranty, both the computer and the power cord must be tested. If you have a Hampshire-owned computer that you think might need a power adapter replacement, contact the IT help desk at or 413.559.5418 to make an appointment to bring in your computer and adapter; the test takes only a few minutes. If you have a personally-owned computer you should seek out an Apple Authorized Repair Center.