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Faculty and Staff FAQs


What Software programs are available for free to Columbia Medical Center Faculty and Staff?

Columbia Medical Center has licenses for:

as well as other programs. Almost all licensed programs require a Columbia UNI and password to download them. When your affiliation with Columbia ends, you are no longer covered under the university license and must uninstall any of these programs from your personal computer(s).

Where can I take classes to learn software programs?

Our Computer Training page has current information on available software and computer classes. Online courses on various programs are also available at Columbia's Learning and Development page.

Why can't I view streaming video via QuickTime?

Firewalls on your own computer and the CUMC network can block streaming video in QuickTime if the program hasn't been configured properly. For instructions on changing QuickTime's settings to allow streaming video through these firewalls, please see CNMTL's page at:


Where can I purchase SPSS or SAS?

You must first fill out the online form to purchase SPSS or SAS - please review all information on the licensing rules and requirements pages that precede the forms. Refunds cannot be given once the license has been given.

After submitting the form please wait 1 to 2 business days before coming in to sign and receive your copy of the software license and any purchased installation media at the CUMC IT Service Desk on the 2nd floor of the Hammer Building during their hours of operation.

Please be sure to read all of the licensing rules for these programs thoroughly or call the Service Desk at extension 5-Help, option 5, with any specific questions.

What is the difference between SPSS and SAS?

Both programs offer slightly different components and features for statistical data analysis. These differences may not matter, or may depend on the type of data and research you will be doing. It is best to consult with others in your department or program to see what they typically use, or visit the SPSS and SAS vendor web sites for detailed information.

Please keep in mind that the Service Desk only offers a specific bundle of components for either software program; current information can be found on the individual licensing pages: SAS or SPSS. It may be possible to purchase additional components and add-ons directly from the vendor, please contact them for details:

In general, most people seem to stick with the statistical program that they first began using, without needing to change to a different program even if their data analysis needs change.

How do I know what kind of license to order or whether I need an installation kit?

Please check ALL of the following to help you determine what to order, whether for SAS or SPSS:
  • Verify that your computer's operating system and hardware are compatible with the version you will be ordering - refunds will not be given after your order is placed under any circumstances.
    Licenses will only work on matching versions of SAS and SPSS, i.e. purchasing a license for version 9.4 will not work if your computer has version 9.3 installed on it. Please see the SAS and SPSS web sites for compatibility information, or contact the vendor directly if you need further assistance.
  • If your computer already has an expired version installed and you wish to just continue running this same version, you must purchase a renewal license for the same version currently on your computer. NOTE: the Service Desk can only provide a limited number of versions for licensing based on Columbia University's license agreements with either vendor.
  • If you would like to upgrade the version that is currently running on your computer, you must purchase a new license AND pick up an installation kit.
  • If you would like to install on a computer that does not currently have the program, you must purchase a new license AND pick up an installation kit.
  • One installation kit may be used to install on multiple computers, however you must purchase the appropriate number of licenses to cover each installation.

After ordering, how do I receive my license?
  • If you have ordered a license, you must come in to the CUMC IT Service Desk to sign it. This can be done by either the person who submitted the online order form, or the person that was designated in the "Picked up:" field on the form. The license will then be emailed to the licensee only. We are not able to email the license to anyone else due to licensing regulations.
  • Online downloads of renewal licenses are no longer available. We apologize for any inconvenience.

What is the software license period? Why does it end on a set date, regardless of when I purchased and installed it?

Both SAS and SPSS companies have a set license period for their software that allows it to run during a specific time frame each year:
  • SAS - September 1st through August 31st
  • SPSS - July 30th to July 29th
The software will stop running at the end of its license period no matter when you purchased or installed it. Another license must be purchased to keep using the software. The periods are set by the SAS and SPSS companies and cannot be changed or prorated.

Can I get a refund for my license or order?

Orders cannot be refunded under any circumstances after the license has been given. This is stated in multiple places on the SAS and SPSS licensing information pages and the Licensing Requirements page. We are not able to give refunds due to licensing contracts with the vendors. It is your responsibility to verify that you are ordering the correct license for your computer(s). You can contact the CUMC IT Service Desk, or the SPSS and SAS companies directly with any questions prior to ordering. The Service Desk is not able to verify version compatibility with your computer.

What are the available versions and cost?

Please see the licensing information pages: SAS and SPSS.

When are the next year's licenses made available?

We try to have the following year's licenses available the month prior to the end of the current license period. CUIT at Morningside initiates the SPSS site license purchase for Columbia each year, we receive notice on when these are available to sell to the CUMC community via CUIT - if you are CUMC faculty, staff or student you must purchase your license through the CUMC IT Service Desk to receive the Columbia site license discount. The Licensing pages are updated on our web site as soon as new licenses or versions are available.

Why can't the CUMC IT Service Desk assist me with troubleshooting SAS and SPSS?

Staff at the Service Desk must stay current on a wide variety of applications and resources that are in use by the CUMC community, however the SAS and SPSS programs are used in many different ways and are so complex that it can be difficult to provide support even when someone is well versed on using the programs. SAS and SPSS both provide excellent technical support for their software, and it is possible to contact them directly to receive troubleshooting assistance: If you have questions about ordering or installing your license, please do contact us at extension 5-Help, option 5 or email

Why am I getting an error that SAS will expire on 1st December, 2010

A free hot fix should be installed on SAS Enterprise Guide 4.1, which is used by many who licensed SAS through Columbia in the prior licensing period. If you are using an affected version, you will receive a notice when opening your SAS program that "This version of SAS Enterprise Guide will expire on 1st December, 2010". This is corrected by installing the hot fix at: SAS Enterprise Guide Hot Fix Download - select the Hot Fix tab, then the link for 4.1, then scroll to the bottom of the page for the Download File and Installation instructions.

Microsoft Office FAQs

How can I install Microsoft Office?

CUMC has a site license that covers Medical Center faculty and staff of most departments. Please see the Software Downloads page or use your UNI and password to log in at the Microsoft download page. Any faculty or staff that are not able to log in should contact their Department Administrator to verify that the department is participating in the site license. You will also need to have administrative rights on your computer in order to install most programs, including Office.
Please note that these are large files and may take a while to download to your computer.

Is there training available for Office?

Online training for Office is available on Microsoft's training page: Here you can find tutorials for all of the programs, and take them at your own pace. also offers video tutorials on using Office programs for free via a Columbia subscription. Both the Libraries and HR sites link to (scroll to the bottom of the Libraries page for Online Tutorials, or select the Online Learning link if using the Human Resources page). When prompted login with your UNI and password, then search for the Office program or look at the software drop down menu near the top of the page for a list of available training courses

Why is a file opening in Protected View and how can I exit it?

Protected View is used by Office for some files if they are from an unknown location or sender, are a blocked file type or editing isn't allowed. You will see a message near the top of the document or file; click on the message for more details and, if allowed, to exit protected view and edit. Only do this if you know the file is from a trusted source and you must read it, opening unknown files may infect the computer with a virus or other malicious program. Additional help can be found at Microsoft Office's What is Protected View?

How can I quickly find a command or menu option I used in a prior version of Office?

Microsoft's web site has instructions and an interactive guide that lets you view an older version of an Office program, select a command or option you used to use, and then show you how to select the same option within the 2010 version: Microsoft's Use an interactive guide to find my commands

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Last updated 10/17/2017