Buying a new PC is a big investment. And just like any other purchase, there’s things you need to do in order to maintain it. Perhaps the most important time to start off on the right foot is at the beginning. There really are only a few steps you need to follow (and keep in mind throughout its life) to get years of trouble-free use.
Here’s five things we recommend you do right now to make the most of that new PC.
1. Take stock
You’ll be asked to set up various parts of the computer to your liking the first time you boot up, so be prepared to spend a bit of time here. Once you’re all set up though, we recommend taking stock of what you need and don’t need.
Computer manufacturers sell space on your computer’s hard drive to the highest bidder. This is what some like to call “bloatware,” and is how some computers are sold at rock bottom prices. Not all of this added software is bad though, and some of it might actually be useful to you.
Removing unnecessary applications right away will free up some hard drive space, and may give you a performance boost. Some programs might also not be on your computer that you need; use this time to get that in order.
While you’re at it, visit Windows Update. Most computers will need to update themselves out of the box. Windows Update is found in the Settings menu under “Updates and Security.”
2. Edge, Chrome, or Firefox?
The second most important thing to do is decide on an appropriate web browser. Each browser has its advantages and disadvantages, and probably the best way to decide is by basing it on what other services you use.
If you’re a user of Microsoft’s Outlook.com web mail or SkyDrive cloud service, Microsoft Edge is your best bet, while users of Gmail and Google Drive (or other Google services) probably will find Google Chrome more useful. You might even want to decide based on what smartphone you use: I use Google Chrome on my iPhone, so choosing Chrome for my PC made sense since I could share bookmarks between the two. Firefox is a solid choice as well, and if you’re already familiar with it there’s no need to rock the boat.
3. Set up AntiVirus
For all the prodding the security industry does as a whole to urge you to protect yourself against viruses, a surprising number of computers run with no protection at all. But on a new PC, this is almost unforgivable. Why? Many manufacturers preinstall antivirus software from the factory, often with at least a trial period where you’re getting free protection.
Don’t wait to install and activate this software. It only takes one time for a virus to wreak havoc with your system, and the effects could be potentially disastrous. Don’t take that chance. And make sure you find a replacement or subscribe before your trial period ends.
4. Back it up
It might sound like we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, but once you have all your settings and software in order you should do your first backup. While it’s rare, sometimes things can go wrong in the early days and you don’t want to have to start from scratch all over again.
Gizmag recommends that you create a “recovery drive” on your PC, essentially a disk that can be booted to in the event the primary portion of your hard drive is corrupted for whatever reason. From here you can launch recovery tools to get back up and running.
You’ll also want to perform a backup too: You can either use Windows’s built-in backup utilities or any other solution of your choice.
5. Inventory your peripherals
Once you’ve gotten all your software ducks in order, the final step in the process is to take a hard look at all those peripherals you’ve got all over the place. Windows is pretty awesome in the fact that it has great backward compatibility, but getting a new PC might mean you’re cheating yourself out of some performance benefits due to old and outdated peripherals.
Some might not even be worth it anymore to connect, like USB hubs (there are many more USB ports on computers these days), or old scanners, PCMag writes. Maybe that old webcam isn’t needed because there’s one built into your display. Perhaps your old external drive doesn’t support USB 3.0 or USB C, so maybe it’s time to upgrade that, too.
Perhaps the most important thing to consider is the keyboard and mouse. Most computers are shipped with cheap non-ergonomic versions of these devices. Consider upgrading these first: Your fingers and wrists will thank you later.
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