Revitalize an Old or Configure a New PC

by | Feb/1/2013

CEOs and Senior level executives often contact me with questions about their own home computers. Here is how to set up a brand new computer and still save your data from an old computer. This also covers, if you don’t want to buy a new computer, how to revitalize your existing computer.

The executive’s situation:

  • He complains that the unwanted software includes everything from a “Yahoo Toolbar” that some other download installed for him, to other software that is causing popups on his main computer screen suggesting that he allow strangers view his screen.
  • He also wants to upgrade to Windows 8 and wants to keep his same Windows 7 machine rather than buying a new computer.
  • The only applications he uses on this home computer are:
    • Microsoft Office 2010
    • QuickBooks (and he uses GoToMyPC for his accountant to access his information)

Here is what I told him about starting with a clean slate:

  • Consider moving to QuickBooks online.
    • Your accountant can go there to see your information – you can even give them their own account separate from yours.
    • Some of the features and reports are different, so research before you make the whole move (or try a 30 day evaluation).
  • Based on your situation, reformatting your computer from scratch might be a good idea.
    • Unless you’ve done this before and found it a “breeze,” then I suggest you find some help with this.
    • I’ve not used them, but I hear good things about: Norton Live Services for $4.99/mo
    • The following set of instructions is only a high-level overview and is far from complete.
    • I’m not going to go into all of the security risks and concerns—just the basics since there is nothing confidential on the machine anyway.
  • Basic Steps
    • Backup all of your data to one or more external USB drives (using copy of the files – and being able to go back and test that you can indeed open the files from the USB drive to be sure they work)
      • Your Word, Excel, PowerPoint files will be the easiest to copy
      • QuickBooks is more complicated—follow their online instructions (this is another reason to move to QuickBooks online)
    • You may even want to subscribe to CrashPlan, Mozy, or Carbonite for online backup
      • All of them also offer some form of “backup to your local USB drive” too
    • Realize you will lose all of the programs and data on your computer when you perform the next step
    • Reformat your computer to “factory fresh” based on instructions from your hardware vendor
    • Run Microsoft Update over, and over, and over until there are no more important updates
    • You might upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 at this point.
      • The interface is different, but not “too different” once you go into the “Desktop” icon on your Windows 8 screen
      • Before Upgrading to Windows 8, consider running the Microsoft Windows 8 Upgrade assistant since it will test your machine to see if it is ready for Microsoft Windows 8. For more information see
    • Run Microsoft Update over, and over, and over until there are no more important updates
    • Set up a new “standard user” account for you to use. Stop using your exiting account that has “administrator” privileges
    • Now install your favorite anti-virus / anti-spyware / end point protection / client side firewall option such as “Norton Internet Security” or “MacAfee total protection” or any number of tools from other vendors that feature all of these functions and more
    • Now reinstall MS Office
    • Run Microsoft Update over, and over, and over until there are no more important updates
    • Now you can copy your MS Office files back from one of the USB drives
    • Now reinstall CrashPlan, Mozy or Carbonite
    • Now reinstall any other applications you really need to use such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Firefox, Chrome, etc. Be sure to uncheck all the checkboxes that say, “also install” some program you don’t want
    • Put shortcuts on your task bar—including Microsoft Accessories you like
  • As a result, your computer will likely run much faster, you didn’t need to buy a new computer, and you can be much more confident that unwanted software is installed on your computer.

Here is a video explaining this information: