New Computer Setup

by Wren McMains

Note: This started out as one page, but now this page is really the table of contents to all the other pages. Each image below is represents another section, click on the image or the title below it to jump to that section.

I'm often asked what to do when someone gets a new computer. What "stuff" that will never be needed should be removed? What are the first programs I should add?

And although this is written from the perspective of setting up a new computer, there are many sections where you can find tips for improving the setup of your current computer.

Here we'll look at what I did to a new laptop before the owner ever started to use it. It's happens to be an Acer. My choice in laptops (this year) is Toshiba, but this machine seemed to be a really good value. When it comes to desktop computers, I usually recommend custom built. When buying an off-the-shelf laptop computer the things I look for (and what this one included for only $450 including shipping and tax):

When you first turn on the machine it asks a few questions and then often takes quite a while to install and setup Windows. Tip: Laptops seem to come with lots of stickers saying how wonderful they are stuck to the surface in front of the keyboard (this surface is designed as to be a wrist rest). While you're waiting for Windows to finish its installation is a good time to remove most of these stickers ... you'll find as the machine gets hot, as they do during normal use, the stickers will get baked on and become difficult to remove. There are two stickers that never want to come off, so I leave them on: the Windows sticker and the computer chipset (Intel or AMD). All the other stickers come off easy if you take them off immediately. I find that my wrists are much happier on the smooth, slick surface than they are resting on labels which have started to wear.

This Acer took less time to setup Windows than most machines. Once it started (and I installed FastStone Capture so I could get all these screen shots), this is what I saw:

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Basic Settings: Folder Options and User Account Control

Very Important

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Creating Recovery Disks

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Organizing "All Programs" (Optional)

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Removing Programs

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Setting up a Dial-up Connection


Setting up a Wireless Connection

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Quick Launch Toolbar

Other Recommended Installations

On most new machines in addition to FastStone Image Viewer, I'll also install the following:

(Check back for Details)

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Updating Windows

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Personalize Your Computer

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Widgets, Gadgets and Goodies

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Limit Programs Running at Startup

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Moving Pictures, Music and Videos

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