How to Set Up, Secure and Maintain a New Computer

When you get a new computer, there are some important things you should do to give it a good, safe start. Setting up and configuring your new PC correctly from the start will help ensure you get many years of satisfaction from it.

After unpacking it and cranking your new Windows computer up for the first time, you will likely be greeted with a “wizard” that will walk you through some basic configuration settings. You’ll be guided through setting up a user name and password, configuration of automatic updates, and some basic security settings like turning on Windows firewall. After doing these things, you’re up and running; but you’ll still want to take care of a few things on your own.

Below are the steps I take when setting up a new computer. Follow these tips and you’ll have a secure PC that’s ready to serve you well for years.

1. Configure your security software and install updates - Once Windows is up and running, the first thing you should do is open your computer security software and configure/install updates. New viruses and spyware are introduced onto the net every day, and you need to make sure you have the most recent protection possible. Set your security software to check for updates on a daily basis.

2. Install every available Windows update - Don't wait for "automatic updates" to take care of you. By downloading and installing all of the possible updates before jumping into surfing the web, you'll add a lot more protection to your PC, which will help you avoid problems caused by spyware and Trojans that are designed to take advantage of "unpatched" computers.

3. If using Microsoft Office, install all the Office updates. Go to the Microsoft Office Update site and click the button that says “Check for Microsoft Office Updates”, check “yes” to allow Microsoft to install applications and scan your system, and you’re on your way.

4. Uninstall any programs you don’t need - Go into Windows control panel and then to Add and Remove Programs. Look for any applications that came preinstalled on your computer that you don’t want, and click “uninstall” to safely remove them. Most new computers come with a lot of “trial” software and internet service software (like AOL or Earthlink) that you won’t ever use. Removing all the unwanted programs now will free up disk space and eliminate aggravation later, when these programs start bugging you to update them or switch to a full “paid” version.

5. Install any programs you have - Now is the time to install any software you presently own, and want to use on your new computer. After installing, it’s a good idea to check and see if any updates are needed. Just go to the vendors website and look for “downloads”. Find your product and see if there are any updates available. Download and install.

6. Download and install helpful utilities and applications - Some commonly used applications you might need are Adobe Acrobat Reader, Apple Quick Time, Macromedia Flash Player, and an unzipping utility such as WinZip. Go directly to the vendors website and download/install these applications. Be careful about allowing the installation of additional “toolbars” and “search utilities” though. Many of these application types are known as a source of spyware and irritating adware.

7. Avoid downloading any file sharing “P2P” applications - If at all possible, never download and install common file sharing applications like Kazaa, Limewire, BearShare, etc… Using these applications can get you in trouble for sharing illegal/pirated material and are also known to pose a huge personal security risk. P2P applications themselves are not infested with dangerous spyware, but the applications that must be installed in order to allow services like Kazaa and Morpheus to run are loaded with spyware that can steal your identity and personal information.

8. Clean up your hard drive - Now that you’re new PC is up to date and fully installed, and you’ve removed all the “junk” applications, you should clean up all the old and temporary files that are no longer needed. Click on Start, then Programs Accessories System Tools. Select “Clean up Drive C, and your PC will rid itself of all it’s “bloat”.

9. Defragment your hard drive - Also located among the Windows System Tools is a disk defragmenter. This will reconcile all the files on your hard drive and rearrange them in order to make your hard drive run more efficiently. It may take a little while for Windows defragmenter to complete this task, depending on how large your hard drive is. Just let it run until complete, and your computer will run faster. Perform “Disk Cleanup” and “Defragmenter” activities every couple of months to keep your new computer performing at its best.