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Google Apps FAQs


General Information

  1.  What is Google Apps for Harvard? What can I do with it?

Google Apps for Harvard provides members of the Harvard community a suite of online tools for collaboration and communication, for use in non-confidential teaching, learning and research. With it, you can collaborate on word-processing and spreadsheet documents, conduct live online chats with members of the Harvard community, create simple websites, and more.

HLS will be launching this service for the community over several phases over the next several years. The current phase includes migrating students, alumni and student organizations to GoogleApps for email and calendaring. As additional phases are determined and scheduled, we will update the community.

  1.  What applications will be offered as part of it?

Initially we are offering Google Gmail and Calendar. As HLS rolls out future phases of this project, additional Google Apps will be rolled out.

  1.  Who can use Google Apps for Harvard?

Google Apps for Harvard is available to all HLS students. HLS is sharing a Google Apps instance with other Harvard schools that will be migrating to this platform over time.

  1.  Do I have access to the Google Apps for Harvard service?

The service is setup for all HLS students that have an @* email address.

  1.  Why would I want to use Google Apps for Harvard rather than the consumer Google Apps service?

The HLS implementation of Google Apps includes data security and disclosure restrictions that are crucial to the protection of University information.

The benefits of Google Apps for Harvard are:

  • Data stored within Google Apps for Harvard will be protected under the Harvard-Google contract, meaning that Google will adhere to Harvard’s compliance practices with FERPA and DMCA laws, will not advertise to users, and will not use user data for purposes other than maintaining the Google Apps for Harvard service.
  • You will easily be able to look up other Google Apps for Harvard users within the Google Apps directory.
  • You can receive IT support and advice from the HLS ITS Helpdesk.
  1.  I’m still not sure I need or want to use Google Apps for Harvard. Can someone advise me?

Absolutely – feel free to contact the HLS ITS Helpdesk at any time with questions.

  1.  What happens to my account and content if I leave the University?

Your account will be in a 'suspended' state and all of the content you shared will remain available to those with whom you have collaborated.

    8.  Why am I having trouble logging on to Google Apps?

  • You may be trying to access a Google App that is temporarily out of service. To check the status of Google Apps, check Google's Apps Status Dashboard.
  • If you are out of the country, check Google's Transparency Report to make sure the Google service you're trying to use is not blocked.

Creating and Accessing Your Account

  1. What username and password will I use?

Your Google Apps for Harvard account will have the same username and password as your HLS Me account.

  1. Will I have to change my HLS password to access Google Apps for Harvard?

No. If you do not know your HLS password, follow this link for more information on how to change your password and how to claim your Me account: Claim Me.  

  1. How can I access my account?

You can access your account at Once you log in with your HLS username and password, you can select a Google application to access. You can also log directly into Mail or Calendar.

Using Google Apps for Harvard

  1.  What web browser(s) are recommended for Google Apps for Harvard?

Macintosh: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari

Windows: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox

Linux: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox

Internet Explorer for Windows platforms will work, but not as well as the other solutions. Note: Google Apps will be discontinuing support for Internet Explorer 8 on November 15, 2012.

  1.   Will I be able to look people up within Google Apps for Harvard?

Yes. You will be able to look up other users who have a Google Apps for Harvard account and have chosen to display their contact information in the Google directory.

  1.  What contact information will be displayed within Google Apps for Harvard?

Only your first name, last name, and your Harvard Gmail address will be displayed in the Google Apps for Harvard directory.

  1.  How can I block the display of my name in the Google Apps for Harvard directory?

If you have elected a FERPA block, you will not appear in the Google Apps for Harvard directory. FERPA blocks can be set up by submitting a written request to the Office of the Registrar.

  1.  Will I be able to look up people outside of Google Apps for Harvard?

No, but you can share documents with users external to Google Apps for Harvard, and external users can share their documents with you.

  1.   Is there a way to back up my Google Apps for Harvard account?

There are several ways to back up or restore Google data.

  • You can download and store your data through a process called “data liberation.”
  • You may also manually download and/or export your data to a local device.

See the following for instructions on how to migrate data from your Google account.

    7.  Are there limits on how much email I can send?

Yes, this is necessary to prevent compromised accounts from overloading servers as a result of sending out mass emails. For specifications of the limit of email you can send out, auto-forward, etc., see Google's Sending limits page.

    8.  How do I use accessibility features in Google Apps?

See Google's Using Google products: How to use accessibility features page for details on how to use accessibility features for Google Apps.

Gmail and Calendaring

  1.  What is my Gmail address in Google Apps for Harvard?

Your Gmail address uses the following scheme: (with XX being the graduating year) or (with XX being the graduating year) or (with XX being the graduating year) or

These naming conventions are used in order to provide uniqueness, while maintaining a meaningful username over the course of many years.

  1.   What is the quota for my Gmail account?

You have 25 gigabytes (GB) of storage available to your Harvard Gmail account.

  1.  Is there a way to increase this quota?

No. At this time, Google does not provide a mechanism for educational institutions to increase quotas for individual users.

  1.  Can I use other software, such as Microsoft Outlook, or my mobile device to access my Gmail account?

Yes. See this page for detailed information on how to set up your software and mobile devices to access Gmail.

Archiving vs. Deletion

  1. What is the difference between archiving and deleting a message?

Deleting or archiving a message removes it from your inbox. If you delete a message, it's placed in the Trash and then permanently removed from your Google Apps account after 30 days. If you archive a message, it's moved to All Mail (your archive), where you can easily find it in the future, using Google's powerful search feature. Since you have plenty of space for storing all of your mail (25Gb), we recommend that you archive messages rather than permanently deleting them.  Please see Google's FAQ page for more information.

Security and Privacy

  1.  What information is appropriate to store in Google apps?

Google Apps for Harvard may be used for teaching, research, learning or other non-confidential data.

  1.  What is non-confidential data?

Non-confidential data is information that has no legally protected or business confidential identifiers, is considered publicly available, or is otherwise not confidential under law or Harvard data policies. Examples include University course catalogs, campus maps, employment postings, and de-identified research data.

  1.  What is confidential data?

Confidential data is information that is specific to the business of the University and its mission and that is confidential as a matter of law or under Harvard policy. Payroll data, student grades, or restricted-access data sets are examples of confidential data.

For further information, please refer to the Harvard Law School Enterprise Security Policy.

  1.  Can I store research data within Google Apps for Harvard?

High risk confidential information (HRCI) must not be stored on Google Apps for Harvard.

  1.  Can Google Apps for Harvard guarantee where the data is stored?

No. This means that you should not use Google Apps for Harvard for collaborations involving data that, by contract or funding agreement, must be kept within the confines of the United States.

Last modified: August 18, 2015

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