What do I do with this brand new computer?


So, you got a brand new computer (either a Windows 7 based or Macintosh based) for Christmas, and now you’re trying to figure out what to do with it.  Hopefully these steps will provide you with some guidance and answers to the questions.

  1. Update the operating system.  Regardless of whether it’s Windows 7, Mac OSX, or even a Linux variant, there have been security and bugfix updates since the operating system was released.  These should be your FIRST things to download and install.
  2. Make sure you are protected (antivirus and firewall).  Most PC’s and some Macintosh computers come with some form of antivirus.  In the case of PC’s, it usually is a trial version.  They don’t advertise it very well, that in 30 to 90 days, you’ll no longer be protected.  So, you need to either purchase their full version, or uninstall the antivirus/security suite, and install one of your own.  At the most, I would wait a week or two for this.
  3. Update the antivirus, antispyware, and firewall (if necessary).  Like your operating system, your antivirus, antispyware, and firewall programs will have updates available.  You absolutely need to get these, so that you’re protected against the latest threats (and protected against bugs in the programs themselves).
  4. Migrate your data over (if you have a computer already).  If you have a computer, and your new computer has Windows 7 installed, you can use the Windows Easy Transfer program to move your data and settings over to the new computer.  Simply run it on the old computer first, and save the files to another location (network computer or an external drive).  Then run the program on the new computer, and transfer the settings over from the saved location.

    The report at the end will tell you what applications were installed, and provide you with links to their installers (where possible).

  5. Start backing up religiously.  You should actually do this before you migrate your settings over.  However, you can do it afterwards as well.  Either way, there are plenty of options for backups available.  Both computer/disk based and online.  Find what works best for you, and use it.  Every dayEvery day. (I can’t emphasize that enough)
  6. Set up accounts for all users.  Make the accounts limited users (Standard Users).  Put a password on the original account (typically “Owner”).  Make it a strong password.  Put passwords on the other accounts (and make sure your family members use them).  If someone wants to install a program on the computer, you have to do it for them (as you will be the only one that knows the “Computer Administrator” password). 

    You should create one for yourself as well.  For two reasons.  1) Because it sets an example that you aren’t any more special than they are.  2)  Because you don’t need to be an Administrator either.  You have the Administrator account, and the password for it.  Use it when necessary, and no more often than that.

    If you find that other users are installing programs and shouldn’t be able to, then check to ensure that they are limited users.  If they are not, then you need to discipline them.  Strongly.

Some of the reasons behind these are my opinions.  I feel strongly that by following these steps, you will decrease the chances that your computer will be hijacked, and increase your enjoyment of the computer and Internet. 

Have a Merry Christmas and enjoy that new computer. 🙂

Patrick.

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