What to Do After Buying a New Laptop

October 23, 2013 by . 11 comments

Buying a new laptop can be a difficult venture. You must decide which one is right for you. Depending on what your needs are, there are tons of things to consider like hard drive space, graphics cards, and general ease of use.

But once you find your dream computer, there are a few things that you must do. Here are some tips to follow after you purchase your laptop to make your computing experience a pleasurable one.

Register and Update Windows


Image via Flickr by Microsoft Sweden

An important part of purchasing your computer is actually registering (and successfully activating) Windows. It activates all the perks of having Windows as an operating system, such as Windows Media Player, and it also enables desktop personalization.

Next you’ll want to download all system updates and service packs. You’ll want a really fast internet connection for this, because these can be huge files and take a while to download. However, they’re vital to making your computer safer and run much smoother. These updates patch up any bugs or glitches that were newly found, and they streamline the performance of the operating system as well as add new features.  To answer super user “Hennes” question, it doesn’t matter which variation of Windows 7 you have, Pro or Home, it will run, performance wise, the same, if you’re worried about performance issues think about either adding more RAM or upgrading to Windows 8, which for the for the most part is a more streamlined and smoother operating system.

Rid your Computer from Unwanted “Bloatware”

When you purchase a computer, you’d imagine that you’re starting with a clean slate. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most computers are loaded with unwanted games and software (referred to as bloatware, since it bulks up what should be a clean slate). The most efficient way to truly free up your computer is to install a brand-new, store-bought copy of Windows onto your hard drive.  This will wipe out everything that was on the hard drive (so make sure you save everything you wanted to keep on an external drive or disc) and leave a clean and smoothly operating system, free of unwanted, useless bloatware.

If you don’t feel like doing this, or don’t want to buy a new copy of Windows, you can try manually uninstalling the offending software, by going to Start > Control Panel > Programs and Features. From here you can go to each program you don’t want and click uninstall. For programs that are more deeply rooted, like anti-virus software, you can go to the developers website and search for the “complete uninstall” procedure and follow their steps to completely eradicate it from your system.

Anti-virus and Security Software

While many computers come with standard anti-virus software, it’s important to make sure you have the right program to deal with potential intruders. That being said, you may want to consider forking out a few dollars for an all-encompassing anti-virus program, such as Norton Antivirus software, or save some money and get basic protection, with something like AVG Anti-Virus software.

Going together with anti-virus software is security scanning software. What you’re looking for are programs such as malware that will make your computer run at a turtle’s pace. By running a security scan, you can remove all the unwanted unintentionally downloaded programs off your hard drive before you get into computing that would release sensitive information.

Schedule a security scan for about once a week (you can set it to automatically begin when you want, in whatever increment you choose) to keep your computer free from malicious programs. Keep this software running in the background, and it will detect and quarantine any questionable and infected files that you may have just unintentionally downloaded and it will also warn you and deter you away from possibly unsafe sites.

Back Up Software and Recovery

Any computer with Windows will have system recovery loaded to it. Recovery restores your computer to a pre-existing state if the worst should happen.

If you drop your computer or it suddenly fails due to a power surge or something else, recovery will make your computer work again if possible. Backing up, on the other hand, is basically insurance for your computer. You can take all the files that you never want to lose, and you can put them on an external hard drive. Or if you don’t want to buy one of those, you can copy the files on to a DVD or CD and keep them in a safe place. These measures ensure that you will never have to fret over lost work.

Physical back-ups aren’t your only option – there are plenty of ways to back up your info using an online cloud service, doing this will automatically back up your files as you make them, and no matter what happens to your computer, or backup drives, your files will be downloadable from their hard drives on their servers.

Power Saving

Make sure that, after registering Windows, you go into your personalization and check your power saving scheme. Here, you can configure your Windows 8 power plan settings and options. Choose how long until your computer turns off after it’s idle, as well as setting a screen saver. Both of these things will save you on your energy bill and keep your computer running longer.

No matter what laptop you choose to buy, following a few simple steps for your new laptop will go a long way. Although you shouldn’t expect problems on a brand new machine, it’s all about peace of mind. You can use the computer at your leisure and not be worried about the problems that can compound over time.


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  • dumbledad says:

    This is obvious, but I would also recommend writing down the steps you take to get a new laptop to the point that it is usable for you day-to-day. I always find there are a million and one bits of software I rely on or use frequently, from applications like Spotify or Dropbox through to add-ons like ReSharper and having a checklist to run through each time I setup a new laptop is extremely useful. If you have access to a more sophisticated build environment you can automate much of this but for manual builds a checklist is useful. Another gotcha that I’ve encountered in the past are only being able to download installers in certain countries (e.g. Spotify) so keep your own copy of them on a USB stick or somewhere just in case you are abroad when you are setting up.

  • Alan B says:

    Don’t bother with Norton or AVG – put Microsoft Security Essentials on it after getting rid of whatever nagware the vendor installed.

  • Rhymoid says:

    I have to contest your security software advice. I’ve often found that it is in fact Norton and AVG that “make your computer run at a turtle’s pace”. I’m not sure what the best course of action is, though, but I can think of three guidelines:

    1. In your web browser, enable click-to-play for all plug-ins. If you want, you can whitelist sites with an outstanding reputation for security, like YouTube.

      In many web browser-based attacks, usually one of these three pieces of software are part of the problem: Adobe’s Flash plug-in, Adobe’s PDF Reader plug-in, and Oracle’s Java applet plug-in. They are often used in so-called ‘drive-by attacks’.

      To further shield yourself from these attacks, you can take the following additional steps:

      a. Uninstall Adobe Reader. Get other software to read PDF files, like Foxit Reader or Sumatra. b. Disable or even uninstall the Java applet plug-in. It’s distinct from Java Runtime Environment, which (sadly) you probably still need for a bunch of software.

    2. Do not run untrusted software. Did you receive a file through e-mail or chat? Good for you. Did the file name end in exe or com? Don’t run it. If you don’t know whether to trust software or not, assume it’s untrusted.

      Also, tell Windows to not hide known extensions.

    3. Always run updates. Seriously. Run Windows updates. Let Java update itself. Update iTunes. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, just do it.

  • Real Superuser says:

    You forgot “install Gentoo”.

  • You guys forgot: review privacy settings and disconnect the built-in cloud services you are unlikely to ever use.

  • Raphael says:

    The first three steps can (should?) be replaced by “Install your favorite variant of GNU/Linux”.

  • Paul Pittlersson says:

    Install Gentoo.

  • Dirk Haar says:

    Sorry, but “rid your computer from bloatware” should be the first section. The second section could than be “install an open operating system” of your free choice which gives you control about your notebook 🙂

    And now to something completely different… – and without any flaming: Getting rid of preinstalled software can get you money back, examples are not only Windows, but Outlook (Express), Video playback software and even those games because you paid for them before/without signing the license agreement, and you have the right to give them back (refunded), if you don’t agree with that. of course it doesn’t bring you the “box price”, but may sum up to a reasonable refund – I know about a documented case of round 120$.

    Nice blog, btw.!

  • “To answer super user “Hennes” question…”: http://superuser.com/questions/545115/is-windows-7-home-better-for-small-notebook-than-professional

    No, it’s not Hennes, it’s Michał Herman

  • Juan says:

    It took me some time to get here since published, but here are my two cents:

    1. Start it with Gparted, Acronis Disk Director or similar from CD/USB.
    2. Wipe all drive partitions.
    3. Install Ubuntu, provisioning different system & data partitions.
    4. Follow Superuser’s directions but using software for Linux instead of Windows.

    Not teasing: it’s just I don’t trust the Windows environment anymore.

  • dragon788 says:

    This is an old article, but I’d highly suggest something like Ninite (GUI only users) or Boxstarter (CLI/power users) to get all your favorite applications back quickly and easily with a minimum of fuss.

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