New PC? You MUST Take These Steps Now...
Setting up a new computer is something to get excited about. It’s tempting to open the box, plug it in, start it up, and just begin exploring. But a new PC requires some initial fine-tuning in order to optimize performance and avoid problems later on. Here is my list of 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
Years ago I saw a cartoon depicting a man driving home with his shiny new Intel 386 computer in the back seat. Behind him was a billboard advertising the Intel 486 model. I was not able to locate that old cartoon, so I asked Dall-E, an AI image generator, to create one similar. Even though the system unit ended up in the front seat, I was happy with the result. Check out the image below and let me know what you think.
If you've recently purchased a new PC, or you're planning to get a new computer this holiday season because yours is "obsolete", then you'll want to follow the steps below to get the most from your new computer.
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. Some popular free antivirus options are AVG and Avast, but my preference is PC Matic, because it uses a whitelist approach that allows only known, trusted programs to run on your computer. Uninstall the trial antivirus that came with your PC, then install your new security software.
Step Two: 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.
If you want to rid a brand-new system of all the unnecessary junk programs that came installed on it, try the free Bulk Crap Uninstaller utility. This program lets you see all the software installed on your system, so you can quickly select the ones you want to remove, and zap them in one swell foop, with minimal effort. It's a lot faster than the Windows "Add/Remove Software" option, which requires you to select each one and answer a lot of "do you really want to do this" questions.
Step 3: Tune Up Your Startup - When your Windows computer is starting up, a variety of programs and scheduled tasks automatically get loaded before the desktop becomes visible. While many of these are crucial, some are optional, and a few could be potentially harmful. See Are Stealth Programs Slowing Your PC? to discover how to customize your "autoruns" for enhanced performance and security.
Step 4: 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, Here's Why You Must Keep Your Software Updated (and how to do it for free) for links to some free utilities that will help you keep your software updated and secure.
Step 5: 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 A Look INSIDE Your Computer (no tools required) gives you the scoop on where to find these programs, and details on how they can help.
Step 6: 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 "system 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.
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.
Step 7: Perform a benchmark test to confirm that your new computer runs as fast as advertised, and save the results so you can see if it's still running well in six months, a year, or two. You can use a free benchmarking tool to test the CPU performance, the speed of your hard drive, RAM memory, video hardware, and other subsystems. You'll also have the option to compare your results to others with similar hardware. See my article How Fast Is Your CPU? Benchmark it! for links to some free benchmarking software.
Some Optional Setup and Tuning Steps
Step 8: Update Drivers - If you find that any of your peripheral devices are not working correctly after connecting them to your new computer, you may need to install or update the drivers for the hardware, such as a mouse, printer, external drive, graphics card, or network adapter. Look for these drivers on the manufacturer's website, along with instructions to download and install.
You may encounter popups or emails warnings that 'Your drivers are out of date.' Ignore those scammy ads. Don't run off and update your drivers unless you're sure there is a problem. See my article Is it Time to Update Your Drivers? for the scoop on device drivers, what they are, what they do, when (and when not) to update them...
Step 9: Personalize System Settings
I like to customize my desktop background, arrange the icons, configure the screen saver with a timeout to lock the screen, and fiddle with the system fonts and type sizes. If you have a laptop that's mobile, you may also want to adjust power settings to conserve battery power.
That's my list of 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:
- Try These Windows 10 Tips and Tricks
- Your Password Is Not Enough
- [ALERT] Seven WiFi Security Mistakes to Avoid
- Replace Your Paid Software with Free Alternatives
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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 28 Nov 2023
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- New PC? You MUST Take These Steps Now... (Posted: 28 Nov 2023)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved