With the holidays passing, a lot of people are just getting around to setting up their new computer, and no doubt have questions about what to do and how to go about doing it. Whether you’ve got a desktop or notebook, gaming rig or all-in-one, we’ve got a few key pointers to keep in mind.
#1. Clean off the bloatware.
If your new computer came with Windows pre-installed, the chances are high that it also came with a number of third-party applications, too. Most of the time, whether it’s a terrible dock or half-installed antivirus “solution”, these programs slow down the computer, fill it with pop-ups, launch a bunch of background services and generally just make a nuisance of themselves.
To close out any open programs, go to the Control Panel (in the Start Menu) and select the Uninstall a Program link. From here, you can see which programs are obviously third party bloatware, and which are useful applications.
#2. Make sure all the updates are installed.
Whether you use Windows or OS X, it’s important to make sure your computer has the most current versions of its OS. In Windows, find Windows Update within the Control Panel, and use that applet to search for new updates.
In OS X, Software Update can be found by clicking on the Apple Menu and going into System Preferences.
#3. Install a new browser.
This is certainly an optional step, but users often find that a third-party browser suits their needs better than the one installed by the operating system developers – it might be faster, more secure, or offer much-need functionality. It might do all three! Options like Firefox premiered the idea of extensions, Chrome managed to speed things up, Opera adds interesting functionality like an integrated BitTorrent client, and if you’re a traditionalist, IE9 and Safari are the best showings yet of their respective browsers.
#4 Configure a backup service.
It’s a new PC, it’s a new year – it’s the best time ever to start backing up your documents. There are more ways to keep your files safe than ever before. First and foremost, a local option is always ideal, since it provides safe, immediate backup and restoration when you need it.
Local storage of important files should always be augmented, however, with additional storage set in the cloud. 2010 has seen more competitors pop up than ever before, with both premium and free variants. Dropbox is widely considered the tool to beat in this round of the online backup wars, but options such as Mozy, Carbonite and Microsoft’s Skydrive (the latter of which provides 25GB of storage for free) are all good options.
#5. Try out some new software.
Often, we use a computer for years and get set in a digital rut – using the same software over and over without venturing out to try anything new. A brand new desktop or notebook is the best time to feel out new applications. Instead of installing Microsoft Office, try out Google Docs. Rather than installing the increasingly cluttered AIM, take a look at Google Talk, which provides classy, clean and free voice and video calling.
#6. Install an antivirus application.
While some AV applications can bloat your installation and might deserve removal, that doesn’t mean you should run without protection. In today’s era, almost every Windows computer should have some form of antivirus software installed.
Microsoft’s own Microsoft Security Essentials is free, and offers a minimal impact on performance.
#7. Throw out your digital baggage.
Exploding storage capacities mean we can – and do – store more digital detritus than ever before. Rather than bringing everything over onto your new computer, consider backing up what you need and storing them in one of the previously mentioned backup services, or on a local home server. Enjoy the relative clutter-free computing!
Well, for the first six months – you can always just buy a new computer once the old one gets dirty.
#8 Photograph your new computer, and take note of the appropriate serial numbers.
Getting your stuff stolen is one of the worst experiences many people go through, but with a little preparation, you can lessen the blow. First, take pictures of all the components; whether that means tower, monitor and keyboard, notebook and mouse, or all-in-one and power brick. These can come in handy when it comes time to make an insurance claim.
Next, write down the serial numbers for every discrete piece of equipment – you might consider adding some sort of stealthy engraving. Store these numbers along with the pictures and keep them somewhere safe. Store copies in your GMail, on your USB thumb drive, in your safe deposit box and/or at your mom’s house.
Getting a new computer is often one of the best presents you can get – new technology is always fun. With a few tips you can make the machine go further than you think.
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