Agriculture Computer Support


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Please contact the NDSU Help Desk @ 701.231.8685 Option 1

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Please use our equipment request form to submit any computer equipment requests that are NOT a part of the twice-yearly Extension equipment orders or the county cost-share program.

Current Events & News

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Winmail.dat and Email Attachment Issues

Updated August 9, 2017 at 4:19 PM CST


Over the last couple of months we have had an increasing number of people reporting issues with sending email attachments to non-NDSU email accounts.  In most of these cases, instead of receiving the expected attachment, the recipient received a winmail.dat file.

What is winmail.dat?

The winmail.dat file is sometimes used by Microsoft Outlook to store additional information such as text formatting for the message being sent and, under certain conditions, can also contain any files that may have been attached to the email. Unfortunately, winmail.dat stores the attachments in a format that is unreadable on most computers.

Why are some people receiving the winmail.dat file instead of the file I attached?

The problem appears to be linked to contacts we used prior to the email migration last March.  From what we can tell, some contacts that were carried over had additional document formatting added to them by Outlook.  While we're not sure why this happens, we do know that sending mail to the affected contacts will result in an email where the original attachment has been replaced by a winmail.dat file.

What can be done to fix the issue?

In Office 2013 / 2016, the only sure way to fix the issue is to have the sender go into their Outlook contacts and delete and re-create any contacts that are currently receiving the winmail.dat file.

  1. Open Outlook and click on your People tab in the lower left corner.  It can either look like this: Contacts_compact  or this:
  2. Locate the contact for the person receiving the winmail.dat file, right click on it and select delete.
  3. Now click on the New Contact button in the upper left corner of the Outlook window and create a new contact to replace the one you just deleted. 

Once finished, the next email and attachment you send to this person should arrive as expected.


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On-Campus Changes to Windows Updates

Updated June 16, 2017 at 1:16 PM CST


If the WannaCry virus attack taught us anything,  it underscored the need for computers to be updated on a regular basis and to be restarted after the updates are applied.  Updating Windows without restarting can prevent the update from becoming fully implemented and render it ineffective against threats.

To prevent this from happening, we are changing our update policy to ensure that each computer is required to restart, when necessary, after security updates are installed. 

We realize that this can be a major inconvenience for people so we will also be providing the ability to temporarily defer updates up to 24 hours at a time until the installation deployment deadline is reached.  While the updates are available, each computer will periodically display a screen, for a brief time, notifying them that there are changes required.

You may see something like this appear at the bottom of the screen:


Clicking on the notice will then bring up a Software Center screen that gives you some options:

At this screen, you can choose to install the updates now, give it a better time to perform the updates via business hour settings or select snooze and pick a duration between 15 minutes and 1 day. 

Please note the date and time provided above the options, this is the installation deadline.  As you get closer to the deadline, the notices will become more frequent.  At first you should see one a day.  Once you have 24 hours remaining, you will start to see them every couple of hours.  Once the deadline is reached, if you have not already allowed the computer to run the updates, it will immediately begin installing the update and restart when finished. If your computer is off during the deadline, the updates will begin the next time it is powered on.  We strongly urge you to consider leaving your computer on overnight and allowing the updates to run using the business hours setting.  This will help avoid having your computer perform updates in the middle of the day.


For off-campus computers, we strongly encourage you to continue to allow Windows to run automatic updates and restart afterward when possible.

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