Follow these 7 steps when you buy a new computer

by | Sep/8/2010

* Read the updated version of this blog post.

Executives often want to know what steps to take when they purchase a new computer.

  1. You may want to have a qualified IT professional help you reinstall the Windows 7 operating system without all the extra programs that come installed with the computer these days. Often, those programs are only for a 30 day free trial and the extra bloat just bogs down your whole computer. I like having a clean computer from the beginning.
  2. Install a quality anti-virus program. If you are going to connect to the office, let a qualified IT professional from the office set up your client to the enterprise anti-virus / anti-malware / software firewall package they use.

    If the machine is strictly for your own personal use, you may choose to use Kaspersky, McAfee, Symantec, Trend Micro, or whatever your qualified IT professional is most familiar with using.

    Caution—there are many “download” programs on the internet that are really viruses so purchasing the boxed copy if often your best bet.

    Additionally, get the whole suite including the software firewall—not just anti-virus. Be sure to choose “update” before installing when prompted during the installation process since the CD will be older than the current version.

    You may need to edit settings for specific programs you “know are ok” if the firewall marks them as suspicious and restricts their activity. Just make sure you don’t accidentally enable a “bad” program to damage your computer.Schedule automatic full system scans daily—or at least weekly. They can happen during the night if you don’t want the scan to slow your computer down.

    Keep an eye on the automatic updates to be sure they are being applied as soon as they are released.

  3. Backup. If you take time to understand it, image backup is the “way to go” for primary backups. Be sure to apply the updates regularly. Products include Ghost, True Image from and ShadowProtect Desktop.

    As with any backup software, it is important to enable encryption of the media. That way, if anyone ever gets your backup drive, they won’t be able to read any of the private information without your password.

    After installing your image backup software on your new computer, always perform a backup and restore. This is “less dangerous to test” on a new computer since you do not have lots of your important data on the machine yet.

    I like the “Lights out Restore” option that works with many computers so you don’t need the product CD to boot if your computer crashes as long as the primary part of the hard drive still functions. Be sure to test Lights Out Restore before you actually need it since this feature does not always work with every computer.

    You may have at least 2 backup drives and alternate using them each time you backup.

    Additionally, you may also choose to augment your image backups to your USB drives with an online service such as in case you lose your laptop and your backup drives.

  4. If you plan to give away your old computer, you will want to erase all of your data from the hard drive. It is best for a qualified IT professional to do this for you. Please read these helpful tips if you would rather do it yourself.
  5. I also strongly encourage you to enable the full disk encryption on the laptop—hopefully it comes with that capability—Most computers do these days. You may want the help of a qualified IT professional to help you configure this option.
  6. Regularly apply your Microsoft Patches—just be sure to use the “Check for Updates” option in Windows 7 instead of ever responding to an e-mail telling you to “get this update.” The e-mail is bogus and the “update” it refers to is most likely a virus.

    Microsoft normally releases patches on the second Tuesday of every month—and sometimes during the middle of the month. Note that the “automatic updates” setting is not always reliable—so checking manually is a good idea.

    Always have a good image backup before installing patches You always have a good backup anyway—right?

  7. Computer manufacturers offer a way to get updates to their utilities and drivers too. The main computer manufacturer patches to get are the ones that say they are a “critical security update.”
    Be sure to make backups before installing the patches – I’ve had manufacturer patches mess up my computer but was always able to restore back to where I was before. Applications need to be up to date as well.

The care and feeding of a new computer these days can be involved, and the more solid a foundation you start with, the longer your computer will serve you well.

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