Best Practices for Working Remotely

General MIT IS&T Information

MIT Information Systems and Technology (IS&T) has licensed and supports a number of tools that enable remote working and collaboration. IS&T recommends that MIT community members adopt a set of best practices when working away from campus. Following these tips will maximize the security of your applications and data and make remote working as seamless as possible.  Please go to IS&T's Best Practices for Working Remotely for more information from IS&T regarding using the MIT VPN, LastPass, and Cloud-based file sharing/storage such as Dropbox.  In addition, there is the following supplemental Knowledge Base article that provides additional pointers including a link to the Zoom landing page.

For information related to the MIT telephone systems, you can visit the IS&T telephone services site.   If you need information on audio/video conferencing/collaboration, you can visit the IS&T Conferencing page.  If you are looking for additional information on conferencing/collaboration/remote learning tools (e.g. Zoom), please visit the MIT IS&T Knowledge Base, click on See More under Browse KB Categories and navigate the right hand menu under Telephone & Mobile Devices.  Under Audio & Video Conferencing, you will find additional information on MIT Webex and MIT Zoom.

IS&T is also working with Slack to provide a Slack Enterprise Grid free of charge to all MIT faculty, students and staff.   You can find more information on the MIT Slack Enterprise Grid at the following Knowledge Base article.  If you have any questions about MIT Slack, you can email slack-help [at] mit.edu

Within MTL

Note: It is strongly recommended that you first connect to the MIT VPN before attempting to connect to your MTL computer.  This gives you greater security and connection stability and may be required by MTL/RLE's local network firewall rules.

  • Windows Users - To access your Windows client remotely, Remote Desktop needs to be enabled which it should be already.  If not, you can follow these steps (or ask MTL's IT team for assistance) :
    • Right-Click “This PC” Icon on your Desktop -> Select Properties and Remote settings -> Remote Tab
    • At the bottom under Remote Desktop select “Allow remote connections to this computer”
    • Limit logins to just you and MTL Administrators: Click Select Users -> Add -> Advanced -> In the Name box enter your MTL username -> Click Find Now -> Click your name -> Click OK -> Click OK.  Repeat this step for MTL Administrators except search for "Domain Admins" at the "Click your name" step.
    •  If you have trouble connecting to the MIT VPN or have trouble getting a connection to your Windows desktop due to firewall restrictions then you can use the following steps to make a secure connection using SecureCRT.  You will need to have SecureCRT already installed on your remote client before following these steps. 
      • On your remote Windows client, define a new SecureCRT session:
        • Hostname: mtl-home.mit.edu
        • Port: 22
        • Username: <your MTL username>
      • Under Connection/Port Forwarding, add a new Local Port Forwarding definition:
        • Name: Windows Remote Desktop Tunnel
        • Local Port: 8091
        • Remote: check the box that says destination is different than the SSH server.
        • Hostname: <Your MTL Windows client hostname>
        • Port: 3389
        • Application: C:\Windows\system32\mstsc.exe
      • NOTE: If you need to define additional connections to other MTL Windows computers then you will need to create a different SecureCRT session for each with a unique Local Port Forwarding definition for each of them with a different Name, Local Port and Hostname.  The rest of the information should be the same.
      • Once done, you should then connect to/run the SecureCRT session where you will be prompted to login to mtl-home.mit.edu.  Once successful, the Windows Remote Desktop connect box will pop up.  Enter the following as the host to connect to: localhost:<Local Port> e.g. localhost:8091
  • RedHat Linux Users - FastX is installed on every RedHat Linux machine managed by MTL.  You can follow these instructions for configuring the FastX client on your remote Windows or MacOS computer.
  • Z drive Users - If you need to store files located in your MTL RedHat Linux home directory - your Z drive on Windows clients - directly onto your remote computer then you can download a copy by using a cloud-based mechanism such as Dropbox OR use a utility such as SecureFX available for MIT users from IS&T.  Mac users can use Fetch which is also available via IS&T
  • Backups - If you are taking your MTL laptop or desktop computer off campus for an extended period of time, keep in mind that the MTL backup systems will not be able to back it up.  We highly recommend that you take advantage of MIT IS&T's CrashPlan or make sure to store your important data and files in a secondary location such as MIT Dropbox.