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Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about home working and remote access

Q Why isn’t Skype use being recommended or promoted?

A. For individuals who feel Skype would be beneficial, they can create individual accounts and use Skype if desired. Note Birkbeck's policy on Skype if using it on Birkbeck systems.

Q Who pays for telephone calls forwarded outside the College?

A These are billed to the department owning the extension as part of the regular monthly recharging.

Q Why aren’t remote support tools such as logmein being considered?

A As the problems are likely to be ones of network connectivity, and all users should have tested in advance, then a remote, internet based tool is not being considered due to the overhead in fully supporting unmanaged desktops.

Q Why can’t I just map a network drive and work directly on the document from home?

A This requires greater bandwidth (network performance) than RDC, and there is a greater risk of file corruption. In the case of the latter, if the home PC is not setup correctly for automatic saving and recovery, this can result in the loss of data. Having said that, many staff do work this way without problem.

Q Why can’t I use Outlook on my home PC to connect to the Birkbeck exchange server without first connecting to the VPN?

A You can, and connection without first connecting to the VPN service is available using Outlook Anywhere by connecting to Instructions for Outlook Anywhere.

Q Why can’t I use dropbox or similar to hold filestore in the cloud or synchronise my home and work files?

A At present, you can, but concerns remain about the security of any data not held on Birkbeck servers. The GoogleDrive feature on the Birkbeck Gmail service can be used to serve this function (whether using gmail or not).  It is not recommended to hold any data off site unless absolutely necessary, and this is only like to be a requirement during travelling where there is unreliable network access.

Q What data usage is likely to be required, and will this affect my broadband data allowance?

A. If you are working from home extensively, you may run into limits imposed by your ISP in the amount of data you are allowed to transfer. This is dependent on your broadband contract and is typically 10Gb of data upwards in terms of the amount of data that you can download in a month, but is frequently much more or unlimited. However some contracts are more restrictive, and you can check by viewing your ISP's "data cap" or "fair usage policy". A typical VPN/RDC session is likely to download 40-50Mb of data an hour (dependent on activity).