Technology Today: Top things to do when getting new computer

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The holidays are over (thank goodness) and many of you may have received the awesome present of a new desktop or laptop computer. It’s all shiny and new and you want to just start ripping DVDs, downloading movies and posting your opinions on Facebook.

However, before you tear off onto the information highway, there are some things you will want to do with your computer first.

First off, many new computers today come with something I dub as “crapware.” Crapware is basically all the promotional programs and generally annoying stuff that you have as shortcuts on your desktop.

So go to your Control Panel/Programs and Features and remove those programs. You will free up hard drive space, as well as free up memory, as oftentimes this crapware typically starts up when your computer does. Consider using PC Decrapifier at http://pcdecrapifier.com/. Great tool and I use it all the time.

Second, make sure your new rig is registered with the PC manufacturer. By visiting the support section of your PC’s website, you can create a login and register your computer’s serial number, which pulls up all the warranty information. Typically you can set up alerts to notify you when your warranty is about to expire. While you may not be thinking about this now, with it being brand new, you will thank yourself for doing this now instead of having something go wrong with your machine and find out your computer is out of warranty. Also, many manufacturers have scanners that you can download and update any software or hardware that is on your PC.

Revisiting the issue of unwanted startup programs, which are programs that start up and run in the background when your PC starts, there is something you can do about it. Go to Start/Run and type in msconfig and hit Enter. This will bring you to a window and you will click on the startup tab. You can uncheck things like Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, iTunes, etc. These are programs that you can launch manually later and do not need them consuming resources. Also, your computer will boot to a useable desktop faster as well, which is a major plus.

If your computer did not come with a subscription to anti-virus software, you will most definitely want to get that installed before roaming around the Internet. Some recommendations are many freeware versions of Avast! or AVG Free. Some may say that “free” is not good, but these programs usually receive favorable reviews in many PC magazines and review blogs. I have used them for nearly a decade and have not had any issues. Plus, who wants to pay $40 to $70 for antivirus service?

Another suggestion that I highly recommend is taking what is called an “image” of your computer. An image is a copy of the operating system and all the installed programs and files at a particular point in time and saving that to what is called an image file that can be stored and used later in case of a computer disaster, such as Windows corruption.

These are easily created. Simply go to the following path on your computer: Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Backup and Restore and select the option to “Create a System Image.” You will need to save this to an external hard drive and the file will be around 8 to 10 gigabytes depending on how many programs and files you have on your machine. This is not just a one-time thing you should do. I recommend making an updated image about once every three months. While your computer may be brand new, Windows corruption can occur on both new and old machines. Take my advice and do this now while you are thinking about it.

New computers are definitely something to be excited about, but a few simple steps right from the start will save you potential headaches down the road. Your PC’s life will be extended by having less taxation on system resources, and being more secure and ready for disaster recovery. There are of course more things you can do, and Internet user forums are a great place to discuss and get great ideas.

HUNTER BONNER can be reached on Twitter @HunterBonner and via his blog at techedgeblog.wordpress.com.


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