How to Setup a New PC

Unlike most electronic devices, which you can plug in and use instantly, PCs–particularly those with Windows–need some adjustment before they’re ready for everyday use.

Did you receive a pristine, mint Windows 7 computer this holiday season? Congratulations! I wish I could say you’re ready to go

However, right out of the box, no computer is perfect. Unlike most electronic devices, which you can plug in and use instantly, Windows PCs need some adjustment before they’re ready for everyday use. You need to make your new system safe, and personalize it with your own preferences. There are programs on the hard drive you should get rid of, and other things you should add immediately. If you haven’t yet been introduced to Windows 7, or it’s been a while since you’ve set up a new machine, we’ll walk you through it all in these 12 simple steps. If your new baby is a Mac, you’ve got a much shorter to-do list.

1. First Start
After you’ve devised clever ways to use your new collection of Styrofoam and made the basic initial connections (power, monitor, Ethernet, keyboard and mouse), Windows 7 will ask you to do various things, like set your language, time zone, and clock and calendar. Perhaps most important request is to create a user account and password; forgo this only if you’re 110 percent sure no one else will want to gain access to this PC, ever, or if you’re so dull-as-dishwater that it wouldn’t matter. For a computer that will have multiple users, this is a must.

2. De-bloat the System
Big-name system vendors typically install software on their consumer PCs at the factory. These “extras” go by many names: bundleware, begware, bloatware, and perhaps the most accurate, crapware. That’s because a lot of it is just that: useless crap. The vendors install it under the guise of helping you out, but mostly they do it to get money from the software makers. A few vendors, like Sony and Dell, offer some options to avoid crapware, but usually just for businesses. Boutique manufacturers, like Velocity Micro, do a better job of providing a clean system.

What can you do to decrapify your new PC? Download and run the free SlimComputer or PC Decrapifier. Or try both. SlimComputer is new and promises to use community-sourced info to find stuf you don’t want. Either will get rid of most of the crap. If you find more crapplications left behind, try Revo Uninstaller, a free utility that does more to fully eradicate errant software than the built-in Windows control panel.

This is a good time to kill anything you don’t want that’s part of Windows 7 itself. Load up the control panel called Uninstall a Program (search for it from the Start menu). On the left, click “Turn Windows Features on or off.” You’ll get a User Account Control warning; click OK. Uncheck anything in the list you definitely don’t want, such as games, Tablet PC Optional Components, etc. If you don’t know what an item does, hover the cursor over the name for a description. If you still don’t know what it does, best to leave it.

Don’t confuse crapware with trialware—a trial version of software you might actually want that is active for a limited time. It might be worth keeping, especially if it’s a free trial of a solid security product, which leads us to…

3. Activate Shields
If you’re willing to pay to protect your system from malware and get some extra firewall protection to boot, we recommend you install our Editors’ Choice security package, Norton Internet Security 2011 ($69.99 direct for three licenses). Its defense against spyware and viruses is extremely effective, and its impact on system performance is minimal.

If you don’t want to pay, check out Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0, the free version of Ad-Aware Pro that lacks very little. It beats all the other free software we’ve seen in our tests for malware removal.

Everyone on a broadband connection needs a software firewall to control which applications on your PC can access the Internet. The firewall in your network router is not enough. When it comes to free firewall software, there are several to pick from, in particular Check Point’sZoneAlarm Free Firewall gives all the control you might want that you can’t get from the built-in Windows Firewall. But if you don’t install a third-party firewall, make sure Windows Firewall is turned on at the very least.

via: http://www.pcmag.com

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