Computing in another country

Prepare your computer

  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) is used to connect to the CWRU network from off campus.
  • It enables you to reach secure resources like the Software Center and library research tools.
    • Download VPN software from
    • Set up and test your VPN software before you leave
  • Make sure that your device is updated with the latest security and virus patches before leaving the U.S.
  • Download anti-virus software for your laptop from UTech Software Center.
  • If your data is backed up, it can be replaced in the event that your device is lost in transit, stolen, or otherwise goes missing.
  • The following services can be used to back up data:
    • Use a cloud based file storage system such as Google Drive or Box.
    • Encrypted flash drives are available for purchase through eProcurement.
    • External hard drives can be purchased through eProcurement.
  • In the event that your device is breached (from theft, loss, etc.), encryption will protect the data on the device.
  • Be aware of any laws that foreign countries have regarding computer encryption and associated compliance. The State Department has more information.
    • Windows computers: BitLocker Drive Encryption is available on the latest Windows operating systems.
    • Macintosh computers: FileVault is available on the latest Mac operating systems.

Prepare to plug in

  • Adapter Plug:
    • Electrical outlets vary by country. Adapter plugs enable U.S. devices to be plugged into foreign outlets.
    • An adapter does not change electrical voltage.
  • Transformer:
    • Transformers adapt the voltage from electrical outlets to the voltage required by electrical devices.
    • Most new devices can adapt to different voltage rates, but some devices work only on the U.S. standard of 120 volts. Check your device to see what voltage range it handles.
    • Example: an AC power adapter is a transformer and may be rated for use at 100-240 volts. It will work on U.S. outlets that supply 120 volts. It will also work on foreign outlets that supply between 100 and 240 volts. An adapter plug will still be needed to allow the three-pronged end to fit the foreign outlet.
  • Voltage converter:
    • If the voltage supplied by a foreign outlet is greater than a device can accept, a voltage converter is needed. If you need to purchase a voltage converter for your laptop, make sure that you purchase the type designed to accommodate three-prong (grounded) plugs. For more information, see the Voltage Converter and Smarter Travel websites.

Connecting abroad

  • Fee-based wireless internet service providers (WISP) provide hotspot access in countries around world.
    • Providers include Boingo, iPass, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint.
    • For more information, see the WISP website.
  • DSL and cable Internet are available in most areas.

If you have an Internet connection, you can access your CWRU email through or in an email client installed on your device.

  • Research the rules and regulations of the country you are visiting.
  • Know if you will have to pay any taxes or customs duties when you bring a device into your destination country.
  • If you’ll be visiting a foreign country and expect to be using a public computer, such as you’d find in a library or Internet cafe, you may experience difficulty entering passwords that contain special characters (e.g., !@#$%^&*()_+-=). Keyboards are manufactured and set up to accommodate the characters required to write the language or express the symbols of the country in which they’re used (e.g., ~‘£Í). Keyboards in use outside of the U.S. may not be programmed to use common symbols like the dollar sign ($) or other symbols that are found on the number keys.
  • To avoid a situation where you can't locate the symbols needed to enter a password on a foreign keyboard, use your own computer when travelling abroad. If using a foreign computer or keyboard is unavoidable, you may want to change passwords that use special characters (or letters not found in the language of your destination country) before departing for your foreign location. To create a secure password that doesn't use special characters, use a combination of lower case and upper case letters with numbers. Password requirements for Case Western Reserve and more information on creating a secure password can be found here.

Several options exist for communicating information across distances and around the globe. UTech has information to help you determine the best methods for voice, video conferencing, audio and video solutions.

  • Zoom is a software application that allows users to meet with people over the internet.
    • Includes video conferencing, file transfer and instant messaging.
    • If your device requires installation assistance due to administrative rights, contact your school’s/department’s support personnel.
  • Soft phones are computer applications that allows users to make telephone calls directly from a networked device.
    • Most often used in conjunction with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) computer telephony. The device’s sound card is used to provide audio input and output.
    • Calls can be made from the device to a phone line, from a phone to the device, or between devices with soft phone.
    • Conversations are conducted on a headset with built-in microphone, with a microphone and the device’s speakers, or on a USB phone (a handset that plugs into the USB ports of computers).
    • More information: how to determine the best soft phone.