Whether it’s your first or umpteenth laptop, chances are you’re brainstorming about what to do first. It’s a bit like filling in a form (think tax returns or applications) – you theoretically know what to do, the instructions are simple enough, but still you get a brain freeze when actually doing it (especially if in a hurry). So, what are the most important things you should do with your new laptop that are not browsing the deep web or playing Minesweeper?
The list you’re about to read is more or less meant to run in chronological order. On the flipside, it’s more of a set of guidelines than actual rules, as Captain Barbosa would say, so you can customize it whichever way you want. The only thing that you actually need to follow through is make sure that the first and last item remain exactly where they are.
So, without further ado, let’s get stuck in.
As any half-decent RPG player will know, the goal of any game is to have fun, and your primary goal when setting up your new laptop is to have fun. This aside, here’s what’s the most important thing about new laptops, and any new piece of hardware for that matter – check the packaging box for missing parts or whatnots. Sometimes mistakes happen, and you can be left a charger adapter or a UTP cable short. Granted, you probably already have some lying around, and even if you don’t, buying one at your local retailers is easy enough, but you should get into the habit of getting what you paid for.
On that same not, make sure to file away the paperwork, such as the bill and the warranty, instruction manual, the works, and keep it somewhere you won’t forget putting them. Also, it would be a good idea to make a copy of the bill and the warranty just in case, or at the very least take a picture of it, since the ink is prone to fading.
Hurry Up Slowly
Your computer will prompt you to update your OS sooner or later, so why not force it and be done with it right off the bat? Sure, it’ll happen again, and if you’re dealing with Windows, you’ll get a fair share of useless updates eventually, but the bulk of it is issued with good reason. Bottom line – run your Windows updates a.s.a.p.
Set Up the Basics
Now that you’ve dealt with the updates, it’s time to install your browser of choice. To be sure, many folks use Internet Explorer as their primary browser, but there are so many more that don’t. In fact, it’s not even in the top three (though Firefox, Chrome and Opera are). If you’re getting Windows 10 with your laptop, you’ll be initially stuck with Microsoft Edge. It’s a decent little browser, fairly fast, but chances are you’re already used to Mozilla or Chrome, so feel free to use it (it may feel a bit dirty using Edge to download another browser, but we’ll not hold it against you).
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Get Some Protection
OK, the fact of the matter is that Windows 10 ships out with Windows Defender already enabled, and it’s a decent first line of defense, at least until you set up something more permanent and secure.
It’s user-friendly, updates regularly with other Windows updates, but it does lack some of the more advanced features that an antivirus/antimalware program must have. So, make this one of your top priorities – install antivirus software. A word to the wise – go legal, don’t cheap out on an important item like this – Avast, ESET, Kaspersky, Avira, Norton, even McAfee are on the table.
Get Rid Of the Garbage
This step can go either up or down, it really doesn’t make much difference, but for the sake of consistency, we’ll keep it this way – you need to uninstall bloatware (unwanted software). Straight Windows installations won’t come with this clutter, but box editions (computers with preinstalled OS) will often come with tons of this crapware. You can do it manually, through control panel, or download a free tool online. A brief search on your new browser should discover heaps of such software (Decrap My Computer, ). Alternatively, just get a copy of Windows and reinstall it from scratch.
Also, you’ll want disable the time-wasting lock screen, adjust the display scaling and unhide file extensions and hidden files (at this point, you might want to change your desktop theme to feel more at home).
Start Personalizing Your New Laptop
Take some time to make an inventory of your apps on your old computer, think of a way to migrate them to your new laptop, and get your start menu in order. A good suggestion would be to use a copy of your setup you had previously saved on an external drive, or, short of that, take stock inventory, make shortlists, and install only what you deem necessary. Here are some suggestions – Microsoft Word Office Suite, Adobe Flash & Adobe Reader, at least one video player, and any other special software you might use.
On that same note, this would be a good time to set up keyboard shortcuts for every app. It’ll save you a lot of time in the long run.
Keep Personalizing Your New Laptop
Now that you’ve set up the framework, the bare bones, as it were, it’s time to add some meat. Copy and/or sync your files (think videos, images, audio books, whatever you have floating around).
A Bit of Caution Never Killed Anyone
It would be a most prudent idea to install a file recovery program. Yes, it’s a bit early in the game for this, but the thing is that these programs have to be installed before you use them, which often overwrites the area on the HDD where the file is located. It’s much simpler to do it now than when you’re in a pinch. On that same note, you might want to sign up for an online backup service (think IDrive, CrashPlan, Backblaze or SOS Online Backup).
Another useful idea is to make your own drivers disk – update your drivers while the laptop’s still fresh, and then burn a copy for rainy days.
Pop the Cherry
Yes, it seems pointless to perform the first security scan right out of the box, especially if you’ve performed a clean installation. However, you can never be too careful, and scanning it at this moment may give you an early warning, and you’ll be able to resolve the issue before it turns ugly.
The final thing you’ll want to do is test drive it for a couple of weeks! Give it all you got, completely substitute your old computer (if you haven’t donated it already). If it survives, you know you can rely on it for a long time to come (as long as the warranty holds, at any rate).