flickr photo by f1uffster (Jeanie)

So you got a new computer for Christmas huh?  Congratulations as there is nothing like upgraded hardware to speed things up for you and your computing.

I imagine the first thing you did was get it unpacked, setup and connected to the Internet.  Not surprising as that is what most of us would do with a new PC or gadget.

However, what do you do next?  The good thing is that most manufacturers ship their computers with anti virus software ready to run with most settings configured to offer you a decent level of protection in those first days of use.

That is OK as you start with your new PC but I recommend some further steps to get you really up and running with your new hardware.

  • Run Windows Update immediately.  Since there is some amount of lag time between when the system image that is on your computer was created and when you received the machine there is most likely updates available.  Windows Update will identify what updates your system needs and get them installed.  Do not do anything else on your system until you get the latest updates for it.
  • The anti-virus software that is installed on most commercially purchased computers are from a major manufacturer and offer a limited amount of time that they will completely update their signatures to continue protecting your computer.  After that you have to register and pay to continue to receive those updates.  This is not necessary however, thanks to great anti-virus and anti-malware software that is available free of charge.  My favorite is Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) which works on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.  The updates to this anti-virus/anti-malware program are 100% free and the software ranks right up there with the big players.  This does mean uninstalling the default anti-virus software that came on your computer but that is easy to do from the Control Panel.  Do that and then install MSE.
  • Update Hardware Drivers.  When you run Windows Update you may very well get offered updated drivers for some of your hardware which you should accept.  If there are not any from Windows Update then visit the manufacturers support and download website to see if there are any updates available from them.  Again, there usually are some updates due to the lag time between when your system image was built and when you receive the computer.
  • Install your favorite programs.  Most new computer systems come with some trial programs and other demos.  I usually uninstall these through the Control Panel and install my own software programs.  Typical programs I install on a new system are:
  • Tweak the system to your preferences.  Set things up the way you like them such as Folder Views in Windows Explorer, Single Click vs Double Click, Taskbar, etc.  I also install my favorite sidebar gadgets at this point.

Of course there are a myriad of variations to the above steps and each one of us will apply our own tweaking to any system to make it ours.  Just make sure you do not operate that new computer system in its out of the box state for very long before you apply applicable updates.

Do you have any specific things you do when setting up a new system that you would like to share?  Let everyone know in the comments.