New PC? Here are Five Things You MUST Do Now

Category: Software

A brand-new computer is something to get excited about. It’s tempting to plug it in, start it up, and just begin exploring. But a new computer requires some initial fine-tuning in order to optimize performance and avoid problems later on. Here are five things you should do to a new desktop or laptop PC as soon as it comes out of the box...

Optimize and Secure Your New PC

Job One is security. Antivirus software is a must on any PC, but the trial versions of Norton or McAfee that come preinstalled on new PCs are overpriced resource hogs. In fact, you don't need to pay for anti-virus software at all! Download one of the many free and very capable antivirus packages I have described over the years. See Free AntiVirus Software for a list of options and download links. Uninstall the trial antivirus that came with your PC, then install the free package.

I also recommend that you download a free utility program called MalwareBytes Anti-Malware, or MBAM for short. Run MBAM once a month or so, just in case your anti-virus program misses something. No security software is perfect, so a second look with an on-demand scanner like MBAM will help to keep you safe.


Next step: Getting rid of bloatware. Bloatware (sometimes called crapware) is not malicious software. Rather, it's the term for all those unnecessary utilities and trial software packages that computer vendors are paid to load onto each new PC they ship. Many of these nuisances load automatically at startup, slowing your PC and annoying you with reminders to try them out. Essentially, they’re just advertisements that you pay to be annoyed by.

Five PC Optimization Tips

PC Decrapifier is a free utility that scans your hard drive for hundreds of bloatware programs and uninstalls them automatically. Alternatively, Revo Uninstaller will remove any program that Windows’ Add/Remove Programs feature can’t handle.


Keeping your operating system and application software up to date is also essential. Security patches are issued regularly by Microsoft, and these improvements are not really “optional.” Make sure Windows is set to download important updates automatically (it usually is on new PCs) and enable automatic updates on all application software that has such a feature.

You might be surprised to learn that some of the application software pre-loaded on your computer is outdated or needs critical security patches. See my article, Keep Your Software Updated (or else...) for links to some free utilities that will help you keep your software updated and secure.


Taking inventory of your PC’s hardware and software can help you diagnose problems, get better tech support, and possibly even save you untold grief and piles of money. Belarc Advisor and Speccy are two free utilities that scan your system and report everything you may need to know. My article What's Going On Inside My PC? gives you the scoop on where to find these programs, and details on how they can help.


Making regular backups of user data and system settings is a good habit that starts from day one. As soon as your PC is tweaked the way you want it, make a full image of your hard drive and store it in a safe place. Thereafter, automatic backups of critical data that changes over time can be set up on whatever schedule makes sense for you. Hard drive failure, viruses, fire, flood and human error can wipe out critical data, and if it happens to you a backup copy of your files will be a lifesaver. See my article, What is YOUR Backup Strategy? (I'll show you mine...) for a discussion of backup strategies and options.

And don't forget that not all your data is stored on your computer's hard drive. Do you have a plan to back up and recover your online data, including webmail, cloud storage, Facebook, Twitter, online photos and other social media? What about the contacts and other data stored on your mobile phone or tablet? My ebook Everything You Need to Know About BACKUPS will show you how to protect yourself from any kind of data disaster.


That's my list of five things you should take care of when you get a new computer. But it's been said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. So a healthy dose of awareness and vigilance will go a long way toward keeping you and your computer free of trouble while interacting with the Internet. With that in mind, I encourage you to read these articles next:

A few hours spent up front tweaking a new PC and preparing for the future, can save days of suffering when something goes wrong, as it inevitably will. Think of all this preventative maintenance as similar to a car’s breaking-in period. Do it with every new PC and you'll save yourself time and money.

Do you have other ideas about how to optimize a new PC? Post your comment or question below...

 
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This article was posted by on 12 Nov 2019


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Most recent comments on "New PC? Here are Five Things You MUST Do Now"

Posted by:

Lucy
12 Nov 2019

Bob .. would you recommend PC Decrapifier for computers that are up and running already or is it just for when setting up a new computer?


Posted by:

Peter
12 Nov 2019

Dear Bob,

Thank you for all you do. My question is: I have a new Dell Inspiron 3580. When I run "Optimize your PC" Google states: "Device not recognized." "You've tried too many times to sign in and have to wait HOURS!" That's only trying once. No reply from Dell support and no reply from Google.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Peter


Posted by:

Peter
12 Nov 2019

RE: Dell Inspiron 3580.

Bob,

I just sent a request. RE: Google not recognizing my device. I can't remember if I was clear because of Dell's "Run Optimization."

I hope this makes sense,

Peter


Posted by:

Peter
12 Nov 2019

Duh,

Too early in the AM. Sorry for the extraneous.

Peter


Posted by:

RandiO
12 Nov 2019

Can the installation of such recommended FREE protection/cleaning programs be partially blamed; if not now, then maybe in the future upgrades of such utilities?
Here it is almost 2020 and in 20/20 hindsight; we are still chasing viruses, malware and bloatware, like a dog chases his own tail in circles. If we are to believe in the Darwin's theory (Survival of the Fittest), then we must assume that such 'nasties' are the superior (living?) organisms.
-------------------------------
@Peter, Have you tried temporarily disabling Dell's SupportAssist UI? You are NOT alone (https://dell.to/2O8QRUL)... and Google is not to be blamed for your problem!


Posted by:

Ihor Prociuk
12 Nov 2019

There are a lot of reasons why people get a new PC: more RAM, faster CPU, more "cores", bigger disk (maybe SSD), bigger screen, etc. etc. All the suggestions Bob made are important but the biggest, most important task is getting all your data and applications from your old computer to your new one. If you've been faithfully backing up all your data and applications, this could be pretty easy. But if you're like a lot of us....well, you know.

If you're satisfied with the data and applications you have on your old system, why not just make a disk "image" ONTO your new system? You'll end up with a shiny new computer with all the bells and whistles and all your data, applications, settings, passwords, etc, etc. all in place in no time at all! :-)


Posted by:

RandiO
12 Nov 2019

NOTE: *per Wikipedia "MalwareBytes (formerly Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, abbreviated as MBAM)...". Unfortunately, the trusted MBAM is now a TRIALware that mysteriously expires "in 14 days"!
*It should further be noted that MBAM uninstallation leaves behind many cling-on folders/files/data (per Revo).

EDITOR'S NOTE: It doesn't expire, it just reverts to the free version if you don't pay.


Posted by:

Lucy
12 Nov 2019

Unless I am missing something there is still a Free version of Malwarebytes available in addition to paid versions:

https://www.malwarebytes.com/pricing/


Posted by:

Terry Muskoff
12 Nov 2019

The article linked to above, Free AntiVirus Software, was last updated by Bob in 2015. Most of the information is out of date. How about an update, Bob?


Posted by:

John
12 Nov 2019

IRT backups, I was happy to see ReDo being supported once again. Last version was in 2012. This is the simplest way to make an image backup


Posted by:

Paul
12 Nov 2019

As far as antivirus software is concerned I recommend to just keep using Windows Defender built into the OS. It is light on resources and effective when paired with some common sense.


Posted by:

Pete
04 Dec 2019

What I've generally done is install MBAM free trial and then after running full scans, I uninstall it. BTW it tends to uninstall very cleanly. Then, in a month or two, I do the same thing. So far I've never had an issue.

I have kept MBAM on my computer before. Then, what I've done is go into the Settings or options and turn off pretty much everything including updates and reject the 'Premium' offer, allowing for the continuing Free version.

I haven't done specific research but I believe the 'Premium' 'may' be more in-depth. Therefore, the uninstall reinstall method. Mainly, I personally don't like having MBAM run in the background continuously. I treat it as a 'spot check' and feel it does a superb job in this area.

Personally, I've had much luck with Windows Defender lately. On the MacBook, I sometimes download Sophos antivirus and run a full scan. Then, I run MBAM for Mac. Then, I uninstall both.

Besides a full backup, I like to create OEM specific recovery media with a new PC. That way, I hopefully have not only the OS but the specific drivers necessary if need be in the future.

Sorry if a bit lengthy but wanted to get a quick 2 cents in. I do hope my remarks aren't outdated. I've been doing the things mentioned for quite some time and it's such a routine. If something has changed outside what I commented with MBAM,I do apologize in advance. However, the concerns mentioned by others are things I've seen since I began using MBAM about 7 years ago. I do believe MBAM has made it seem like you have to be subjected to some big change at 14 days, but I am guessing from their marketing standpoint, it's just smart wording which probably works on many people to get them to either pay for premium or not use the resource. Hopefully not cynical sounding. Just my viewpoint.


Posted by:

Pete
04 Dec 2019

Actually, reading your article again, the complete image would cover the piece I was talking about with recovery media. I'm weird. I make both, 'just in case' plus the usual Backup through Windows ( making sure this is included C:\username\public ).

To the one person who said just make an image from old pc and put on new. I just want to clarify, that you wouldn't fully install the old image on the new computer. There should be myriad issues with that. However, one could make it available on the new pc and use a program to look inside the image.

Personally, I use getting a new PC a great chance to downsize the amount of personal data I move to the new PC. I'm probably not alone in this, that I save WAY TOO MUCH junk on my computer that I either never or seldom look at. I of course keep multiple backups especially of things that are personally irreplaceable or just plain important and will likely move those to the new PC along with ongoing project material. Otherwise, it can take up too much time sifting through information.

Sorry for double dipping. Just had too.


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