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When to Use and Not Use PittNet VPN While Working Remotely
Thursday, March 19, 2020 - 00:00
The PittNet VPN (virtual private network) service provides students, faculty and staff the ability to remotely connect to restricted University resources that otherwise only can be accessed from the University’s network, like departmental file servers and workstations located on campus.
Under normal circumstances, a limited number of people use the PittNet VPN to access restricted University resources remotely. When there’s an extended disruption that changes where we work and how we access restricted resources, the number of users trying to access University resources via PittNet VPN can increase significantly. Access to the vast majority of University resources does not require use of the PittNet VPN, though.
For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges and impacted where many Pitt community members are working or studying. The increase in remote work by students and employees has created a surge in the number of people trying to access University restricted resources with PittNet VPN.
Since PittNet VPN is a shared resource with a limited pool of licenses, the number of people who can use it at the same time is limited.
There’s good news, though: Most of the time, faculty, staff and students don’t actually need to use PittNet VPN to work remotely—it’s required only in very specific cases for certain resources.
By minimizing the number of unnecessary PittNet VPN connections during this time of increased demand, you help ensure the service remains available for those who need it for essential work functions. Keep in mind that disconnecting when you are finished accessing resources protected by PittNet VPN will free up available connections for others.
Pitt IT has shared the following guidelines to help staff, faculty and students determine when they do and don’t need to use PittNet VPN.
You do NOT need PittNet VPN to remotely access:
- Most University websites protected by the Pitt Passport single sign-on service, such as my.pitt.edu, askcathy.pitt.edu, accounts.pitt.edu or software.pitt.edu.
- Your University email and calendar (outlook.office.com).
- University Learning Management Systems (Blackboard and Canvas).
- Files stored in the cloud via Pitt Box or OneDrive.
- University-provided software installed on your workstation, like Microsoft Office. Note: Most University-provided software is available via the Software Download Service or portal.office.com and can be installed on your remote devices. If you don’t find the software program you need, contact the Technology Help Desk so that they can work with you to determine the best way to acquire it.
You DO need PittNet VPN to remotely access:
- A workstation connected to the University’s network—for example, your office workstation.
- A departmental file server connected to the University’s network.
Note: If you work with non-sensitive files or data on your workstation or departmental file server, consider copying those files to Enterprise Cloud Storage [Box or OneDrive] so that you can access them from anywhere.
- Departmental resources that are able to be accessed only from the University’s network.
- Document Management (Perceptive Content / ImageNow) via webnow.pitt.edu.
Pitt IT is currently working on adding capacity to support additional PittNet VPN users.