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I've Got a New Computer. Now What?

posted Jul 14, 2011, 4:22 PM by Nathan Eliason   [ updated Jul 20, 2011, 3:46 PM ]

This guide explains some of the steps every user should take after purchasing a new Windows PC, based purely on my own experiences with them. Let's get started!

Install Internet Security

First, and most important of all, install internet security. Whether you like McAfee, Norton, AVG, Kaspersky, or any other program, make sure your PC is protected before you hook up to the web. It is absolutely essential and the first few minutes on the web without security may make your computer lose its potential quickly. If you have a CD, stick it in right after the initial start-up and install the complete version of your favorite anti-virus suite. If you don't, your computer will probably come with 60 or 90-day trials. Activate them (start them up) and make sure everything is set to ON, then venture on to the internet and immediately buy a licensed copy. If there are no trial anti-virus programs and you don't have any CD's, do not hook your computer to the web until you physically go to a store and buy some internet security. You may be excited and anxious to get on the web and see what your new PC can do, but it will immediately be the target of hundreds of spyware, malware, etc. even staying on sites you trust.

Get your PC on the web

After you've gotten internet security, and only after, you can start thinking about hooking your computer up to the internet. If you have a cable directly from your modem, then (especially with new computers) the process is extremely straight-forward. Find the right port on the back of your computer and hook it up! If you don't have the right cable, search for "ethernet cables" and there will be plenty of results. After you physically plug your PC in, it should automatically connect and you'll be good to go. If you have wi-fi, however, the process can be a bit more annoying.

For users with wi-fi: 
First of all, you have to make sure your computer supports wi-fi. To do this (on Windows 7 and Vista), Click on Start > Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center. If you see a link anywhere that says "view available wireless networks", then you're wi-fi ready. If not, then check out USB wi-fi adapters, available all over the internet. Anyway, now that you're wi-fi ready, you need a router hooked up to your modem. If you already have a wi-fi network set up, then just use the icon in the taskbar or go to the Network and Sharing Center with the instructions above and hit "connect to a network", select your network, and put in a password if you have to. If you don't, wireless routers aren't too expensive online or in stores. Make sure you set up a password on your wi-fi, though. The initial software with your router will help you do that.

Transfer documents from your old PC (or Mac)

Also, you should probably move over the files from your old computer. You can do this a variety of ways, including moving your documents over to a flash drive (thumb drive, pen drive, they're all the same) or external hard drive, then plugging the drive into your new computer. Beware: your old computer may be infected with viruses that will travel along with the flash drive and infect your new computer. Be extremely cautious when moving over files. Also, you could use products like Windows' SkyDrive to move your files over a little more safely. Just log in with your Windows Live account, upload the files you want to transfer over, then download them from your new computer. This may be more painful, but you're a little less likely to be infected that way.

Get rid of the trial programs

Next, you should uninstall the "bloatware" on your PC. Programs like PC Decrapifier (available for download at www.pcdecrapifier.com/download) will scan your new computer for programs you probably don't want on your new PC, then give you the option of either removing them or keeping them. Going in by hand can be a tedious and difficult task to remove the programs that often don't want to go, or leave trails behind, and PC Decrapifier does a very good job of completely eradicating those trial and free sample programs.

Install essential, important, and your favorite programs

Of course, you need to install your favorite programs. Examples like other internet browsers (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera), file sharing programs (Dropbox), and music players (iTunes, RealPlayer), eBook readers (Kindle for PC), art programs (I love PAINT.NET), games (there's a list. It's up to you), and more. Installing these really makes the computer yours. Make sure you have a desktop crammed with all the best and your favorite programs.I would specifically suggest downloading and installing iTunes, even if you don't have an iPod, iPhone, or iPad. You can use iTunes to listen to and buy music, rent and buy movies, play your own music, buy eBooks, and so much more. Head on over to www.apple.com/itunes/download and get the latest version, then follow the onscreen instructions to download. Once you've installed iTunes, it will scan your computer for any music you might have on there. As far as internet browsers, I will go as far as say that I love Google Chrome, but whatever floats your boat. As for Office Software, if your computer was sadly lacking in programs to work with text files, spreadsheets, presentations, and more, then I would also suggest OpenOffice.org. Simply go to openoffice.org and download the free suite, it's very nice and compatible with loads of different formats.

Most of these programs are available for download for free if you just search for them on your internet browser.

Install peripherals

Next, make sure you install any peripherals. For those of you who don't know, a peripheral is basically a little gadget that plugs into your PC and gives it super powers, like a webcam or a USB hub. While Windows Vista is sadly incompatible with many gadgets and programs, Windows 7 seems to do a much better job. Just plug in your device and maybe put in the CD that came with it and you're off.

Make it yours!

Every new PC needs to be personalized. Simply right click on the Desktop and select "Personalize", then change the theme, background, window color, sounds, your mouse pointers, desktop icons, account picture, screensaver, and more. Just make the computer yours!

Back up and protect your files and system

Next, you need to worry about backing up your computer files. The easiest thing to do here is just to grab an external USB hard drive ($75 and up) and using Windows Backup and Restore to automatically backup your files. Some would recommend using an online service, but I find them a little pricey, and external drives are much easier and less expensive in the long run. You may think you don't need this step, but you'll regret it if and when your PC crashes. On this topic, you also need to make a system restore disc. Do this by getting a blank DVD RW disc and creating a recovery disc in the Control Panel.

Well, that about wraps up the list of essentials, and have fun with your new PC!


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