…As long as it doesn’t smell like smoke!
So, you’ve just come home with that shiny new desktop or laptop computer (Which, of course, was obsolete the instant you left the store, but I digress.) and you need to get it up and running.
Once you turn the computer on for the first time, after it goes through it’s initial setup, you’ll be asked to choose a password. You might not know, unless you look closely, that you don’t need a password. Many home users are by themselves, never take the computer anywhere (if it’s a laptop), have no underage children, and don’t do any important financial transactions or other stuff they need to keep private from people that have physical access to the computer. If this describes you, then you don’t really need a password on your computer. On the other hand, if you use your computer for business, you most definitely need a password. If underage children will ever have access to the machine, it might be wise to have a password… because you don’t want to wind up like the guy whose toddler bought a car on eBay! Children are extremely good at breaking computers (and their owners) in all sorts of ways.
If you do decide to use a password, make sure you won’t forget it. Windows 8 gives the option of recovering a password through either a Hotmail (now Outlook.com) account, or a physical password key, such as a flash drive. Failing this, write it down and keep it in a very safe place.
Now that you’ve decided how much physical security you need, if it’s a Windows computer, you need to get some security software on it right away, as well as the latest updates that came out after the computer was manufactured. Most new computers come with a trial version of one of the popular paid antivirus packages. You can spend $$$ on the full versions of these programs, or you can brutally uninstall them (This program will help with that!) and use a free program that is just as good. I recommend AVG antivirus. Reminder: Don’t Google search for security software! Get AVG here.
If AVG doesn’t work out for some reason, there are other free antivirus programs, as well. Try Avast, Avira, or, for Windows versions prior to Windows 8, Microsoft Security Essentials. You can find them all at ninite.com, in the Security section.
Meanwhile, your machine will be downloading lots of updates in the background.
If you’ve just gotten a Windows 8 computer and you hate the new interface, try Classic Start menu. It’s also free, and will bring back the start menu you’re used to.
Finally, you need an easy way to update some of the programs that frequently patch security holes, plus some supplement to your antivirus, because some things sneak past traditional antivirus. All of these programs are free, although some have a paid version that they will (gently) nag you to buy. You don’t need to, though. This link will install (Or update, if already installed):
- Firefox web browser, because Internet Explorer breaks at times, and you need a way to access the web if this happens.
- Glary Utilities, a free tune-up program.
- Java, which needs updating regularly.
- Malwarebytes, a very effective antispyware program.
- Adobe Reader, which also needs regular updates.
When you’re done, shut the machine all the way down using the Start menu. It will install updates as it shuts down. It will finish installing updates as it starts up the next time.
Whew! Now your new toy is finally ready to rock and roll on the Internet. It may look like a lot of work, but using the links above, you should be able to set all this up in about an hour. Enjoy!
For even more empowering technology info, read my new book, “Deciphering the 21st Century,” Available now!
I’d love to hear your comments!