5 Things to do when you get a new Laptop or PC

August 16, 2011

Getting a new Laptop is always exciting but before you start downloading and installing new applications there’s a number of things you can do to ensure the laptop runs smoother for longer.

1. Make a system recovery (image) disk

When you get your new laptop or PC it’s often preloaded with the Operating System (Windows 7, Vista, etc) but what you tend not to get nowadays is a system restore disk. This disk is used to reload or repair the Operating System if things go wrong. The problem with creating these disks is that each manufacturer has their own method.

Acer call the process “eRecovery” whereas HP/Compaq ask you to create an “HP Recovery Disk”. Either way it’s usually a fairly straight forward process but something YOU MUST DO because it simplifies things if you do have issues.

And remember, store these disks in a safe place.

2. Remove the Unnecessary software

New PCs come with a raft of software designed to “enhance your experience”. The problem is that most of this software is rarely used so invariably uses system resources like memory and processor power.

The type of programs I usually remove are specific power management software, wireless networking software and application bars that all sit on the screen offering little functionality over and above the built in Windows.

Removing this software not only frees up system resources but also speeds up the system start-up time.

3. Remove the bundled Anti Virus and install a free light weight version

One real problem with a new PC or Laptop is they often have antivirus software pre-installed. Now whilst this is useful, the software tends to be large security suites that try to protect against every type of security problem on the planet. The downside is that it often reduces your internet browsing to a crawl. To be clear, security is VERY important and a facet of computing that must be addressed but it should not impact on your computing experience.

There are a number of Free (for home use) antivirus products available that, used in conjunction with a secure internet broadband router, will offer more than adequate security solution.

My personal favourites are Avira, a very quick antivirus solution (although it does pester you to upgrade a lot) or Microsoft Security Essentials.

4. Update your System

The next step is to update the system. Whilst you PC is new to you there’s every chance it’s built from a standard factory build. By updating it you can ensure you’ve got the latest bug fixes and security updates.

To update Windows click the Start Button (in the bottom left hand corner), select “All Programs” and then click “Windows Update”.  The Windows Update process will check if your system is up to date and guide you through applying any new updates required.

Also take the time to update, JavaAdobe Acrobat Reader and Adobe Flash Player.  These items often have bugs that allow viruses to be installed without your permission.

Word of WARNING. Adobe sometimes try to install extra software, like the “McAfee Security Scan Plus”. Uncheck this option.

5. Sort out a backup strategy

Losing important files, like photos, can be devastating so devise a backup strategy to ensure you protect your files. Use either an external hard drive or internet backup service.

You can purchase large external hard drives from the internet or local PC shop for as little at £49.99. You can manually copy files onto the drive or use a free backup program.

Alternatively use online cloud storage for backup. Most offer a limited amount of free storage but for a few pounds a month you can upgrade and purchase extra storage space. Either way it’s a cost effective way to protect your files.

DropBox is a personal favourite as you can install it on as many computers as you like and if you use the same credentials you can share data between the PCs anywhere.

For Business I tend to use JungleDisk. It’s more expensive but provides a much better backup and restore mechanism.