9 Things to Do Before Using a New Computer
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The first thing you want to do with a new computer is jump right into using it. But we don’t recommend doing that. There are some tasks that you must take care of before you start using your new machine. These tasks are easy to do and you won’t have to put too much effort.

In the long run, it can make your PC safer, faster, and better poised for the future. Complete these Windows customizations before using your new computer.

1. Review the Update Settings

Microsoft releases periodic updates to Windows 10. Quality updates consist of both bug and security fixes, while Feature updates are significant upgrades. In the recent versions of Windows 10 (after 1809), Microsoft gives you more hands-on control over the updates.

Open the Settings app and navigate to Update & Security > Windows Update.

open windows update settings

Click Change active hours to prevent Windows from automatically restarting your PC. The View update history neatly organizes the updates installed on your system. If an update is causing a problem, click Uninstall updates and follow the dialog prompt.

The Advanced Options offers you more granular options to control and configure updates. Do note that Windows 10 Pro provides more option than Windows 10 Home.

options in windows update settings

The toggle for Pause Updates lets you temporarily pause all updates. Enable Update notifications to prompt you when a pending update requires a reboot.

Under Choose when updates are installed, you can separately defer the installation of quality updates (up to 30 days) and feature updates (up to one year). This option is available only in Windows 10 Pro.

choose when updates are installed in windows 10

2. Check the Power Plan

Pay close attention to power management settings for productivity benefits. It helps you extend the battery life and balance resource usage while doing an intensive computing task.

Open the Settings app and navigate to System > Power & sleep. Set the idle time before the screen goes dark and the time before it goes to sleep.

open the power and sleep settings

Click the Additional Power Settings link to open the Power Options pages in Control Panel. You can create a custom Windows power plan according to your needs Save Energy & Extend Your Battery Life With Custom Windows Power Plans Save Energy & Extend Your Battery Life With Custom Windows Power Plans Read More .

create a custom power plan

If you want to fine tune it further, click Change advanced power settings. The options on this dialog box provide a great deal of granular control over power-related events. You can tailor them to your hardware and software needs.

advanced power options to minutely control power related events

3. Battery Health and Calibration

The laptop battery is an essential piece of hardware, yet we’re often less informed and least excited about its health. When you buy a new machine, it’s necessary to monitor battery health right from the beginning. If you don’t know where to start, we have a guide on some of the best third-party diagnostic tools to analyze laptop battery health The 6 Best Tools to Analyze Laptop Battery Health The 6 Best Tools to Analyze Laptop Battery Health Do you pay attention to your laptop's battery? Here are the best tools to stay on top of your laptop's battery life and health. Read More .

Over time, the capacity of any battery diminishes. The battery stops holding its charge and shows fluctuating readings. That’s why you should calibrate it now and then.

Monitoring the battery health will tell you when to calibrate the battery and take corrective steps to increase longevity. Visit your laptop’s manufacturer website on the calibration procedure. Or follow the instructions in the product manual.

msi battery calibration tool

4. Create a Recovery Drive

When your PC runs into problems and won’t start, then a USB recovery drive can help you troubleshoot and fix those problems. The recovery drive boots your PC into a Windows Recovery Environment which consists of many helpful utilities.

To create a recovery drive, type “recovery” in the search box and choose the Recovery Drive app from the results. From the window, check Back up system files to the recovery drive.

create a recovery drive in Windows 10

There are two benefits of selecting this option. You’ll be able to reset the PC and access other Windows Recovery Environment tools from the drive itself.

Note: It’s best to choose an empty USB drive with a capacity of at least 16GB.

5. Uninstall Bloatware and Turn Off Annoyances

Bloatware is an app pre-installed or available on your system that you don’t want. These apps are generally trial versions including antivirus, games, and DVD rippers. You’ll find lots of apps and games littering the Start menu’s All Apps and tiles areas.

In most cases, it’s easy to remove them. There are three different methods available:

  1. Traditional uninstall
  2. With PowerShell commands
  3. Using third-party uninstaller utilities

Here’s the guide on how to easily remove bloatware in Windows 10 How to Easily Remove Bloatware From Windows 10 How to Easily Remove Bloatware From Windows 10 Windows 10 comes with its own set of pre-installed apps. Let's look at the methods you can use to remove the bloatware on your PC and debloat Windows 10. Read More . There are other types of annoyances too, like unwanted advertising in the Start menu.

Turn Off Start Menu Advertising

Windows 10 will often show you suggested apps or games in the Start menu. To stop this, navigate to Settings > Personalization > Start and turn off Show suggestions occasionally in Start.

turn off start menu advertising

Disable Lock Screen Ads

Windows 10 sometimes shows you ads on the lock screen via Windows Spotlight. To disable this, head to Settings > Personalization > Lock screen and set the background to a picture or slideshow.

disable lock screen ads in Windows 10

Turn Off Nagging Taskbar Pop-Ups

Persistent Windows 10 tips include recommendations to use Microsoft Edge. To disable this, go to Settings > System > Notifications & actions and turn off Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use Windows option.

Also, turn off the Show me the Windows welcome experience after updates and when I sign in option.

disable notification popups in Windows 10

Disable File Explorer Advertising

Microsoft uses File Explorer to advertise OneDrive storage and Microsoft Office 365 service. To stop this, go to View > Options > Change folder and search options. In the Folder Options window that appears navigate to the View tab and turn off Show sync provider notifications.

turn off file explorer advertising

6. Create a System Restore Point

The System Restore feature is a part of the recovery toolkit to quickly undo recent changes in hardware or software that made the system unstable. It does this by creating restore points periodically. When you enable System Restore, the Volume Shadow Copy service takes an occasional snapshot of the local storage volume.

The snapshots take into account the difference in the details of system configuration—driver files, registry settings, third-party apps, and more. To check the status of System Restore, open the Control Panel and click System > System protection. If any drive is On, then it means that the restore point is working for that drive.

create a restore point in Windows 10

By default, Windows automatically creates a restore point once per week, right before installing new device drivers, Windows Update, and more. You can also create a restore point at any time.

7. Setting Up Windows Defender Security

Many people ignore setting up Windows Defender option before using a new computer. It’s essential to configure them correctly. As of Windows 10 1809, all the options have moved to Windows Security app.

Virus & Threat Protection

Here, you can see the details of recent scans (manual or automatic). Click Manage settings to adjust more options. The Cloud delivered protection along with automatic submission sample turned on helps you block malware in real-time even if it’s is not in the database.

virus and threat protection in Windows Defender

Block Ransomware With Controlled Folder Access

This feature, introduced in version 1709 prevents malicious and suspicious apps from making changes to any files stored in designated folders. To enable this feature, go to Virus and Threat protection page and click Manage ransomware protection. Turn on Controlled Folder Access and modify the list of folders.

ransomware protection in Windows Defender

App & Browser Control

You can control how Windows behaves when you download apps and files from the web. Turn on Windows Defender Application Guard to open Edge in a secure, isolated browsing environment. Exploit protection automatically applies many exploit prevention techniques to the system processes and apps.

app and browser settings control in Windows Defender

Device Security

Windows 10 also uses virtualization-based security to prevent attacks from inserting malicious code into high-security processes.

core isolation feature in Windows Defender

8. Setting Up Scheduled Backup Routine

No amount of maintenance guarantees against hard drive failure or theft. Any potential catastrophe could imperil your computer and data. To keep your data safe, take regular backups.

Here’s our ultimate Windows 10 guide on taking backups The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide We've summarized every backup, restore, recovery, and repair option we could find on Windows 10. Use our simple tips and never despair over lost data again! Read More .

Key Hardware and Software Requirements

One or two external hard drives of minimum 1TB or more with USB 3.0. Use the first disk for system backups and another for data backups. Or if it feels redundant, divide the drive into two partitions.

You should choose an app that lets you backup data automatically according to a schedule with minimal manual intervention. Cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive works best to sync selected files and not as a complete backup tool. Consider Backblaze, Backblaze B2, Amazon S3, Amazon Glacier, Google Storage Nearline, and more.

9. Use Ninite to Install Multiple Apps

After setting up your computer, you probably want to install your favorite apps. But having to download, install, and keeping them up-to-date is time consuming and annoying. Ninite lets you automatically install multiple apps in one fell swoop and save time. Click the Get Your Ninite button at the bottom of the list.

install multiple apps with ninite

Download the Ninite installer file. Then let Ninite take care of installing all the apps. The apps silently install in the background with default settings and that too in the default location. Ninite even offers you an update checker app for $10/year that periodically checks for any updates that Ninite supports and install them automatically for you.

Apps You Must Install on a New Computer

Getting a new computer is an exciting time. Although at first sight, these tips may seem a lot, it’s not tough. Your PC will be safer, faster, and better equipped for your tasks.

While there are dozens or more amazing Windows apps, knowing which are must-have makes setting up a new installation easy. Read this piece to find out some amazing Windows apps you should install right away along with alternatives New PC? 15 Must-Have Windows Applications You Should Install First New PC? 15 Must-Have Windows Applications You Should Install First Got a new computer or just reinstalled Windows? These essential apps are must-have software for Windows 10, no matter what! Read More .

Explore more about: Computer Maintenance, Computer Tips.

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  1. Emilia
    September 22, 2019 at 11:25 pm

    thanks a lot! very helpfull!!

  2. Warren Warshaw
    July 15, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    Didn't know about the File Explorer Advertising part in section 5. Very useful - thanks!

  3. THOMAS
    May 16, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    i just bought a laptop and i already used my laptop for many hours. I didn't know that i need to charge it first. Is it safe to charge it now?

  4. Nick Patel
    March 13, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    This is good information! Thank you for posting!

  5. macwitty
    March 13, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Make a clone, add some apps and update them, sync my content while I'm starting to use it. After the sync i finished I do clone 2. Sometimes I just copy my own content from an earlier clone and give the sync a easier task,

  6. SaapeXD MoHods
    March 13, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    The last tip is very important! :D

  7. Rachel B
    March 13, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Good advice! My baby spilled his drink on our laptop keyboard and we had to buy a new computer. Were very protective of the new one...and taking all of the advice we can get...

  8. Kirby
    March 12, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    Don't forget to update those drivers.

    • Midwest guy
      March 13, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      Regarding drivers, I'm more of the mindset: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

      • ManualFocusRing
        July 14, 2019 at 11:27 pm

        There's a reason why drivers get updated, to fix things that are broken!

  9. Richard Steven Hack
    March 12, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    I disagree about registry cleaners. While they won't speed up your machine, there's no reason to allow Windows and crappy third party programs clutter your Registry with incorrect and useless entries. Frankly, given that the Windows Registry is THE number one point of failure in the system, I don't trust Windows to keep it stable by itself - and I certainly don't trust third party programs that use the Registry as a personal database against Microsoft orders not to do that.

    Use a Registry cleaner like CCleaner and a Registry backup and compaction utility to recover no longer used space. There are plenty of good free ones around.

    There may be a slight risk in using these tools, but I've never had CCleaner do anything that was identifiable as a problem.

    The rest of the advice is very good.

    • acouch
      March 12, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      Richard,

      What part are we disagreeing about registry cleaners exactly? I agree completely with using CCleaner -- it's awesome. Sure it does clean the registry, but I never say not to use it. When I link to the article about not using Registry cleaners, I'm talking about programs dedicated to that. Uninstallers like Revo and Geek Uninstaller remove Registry values too and I agree with using those. This is starting to get into what one of the next articles covers, so I'll stop there. But I just thought I'd let you know that we aren't disagreeing on that topic.

      In addition, you mentioned a "Registry backup utility" -- did you know CCleaner can backup the Registry as well?

      Thanks for your comment!

      • Doc
        March 13, 2013 at 8:21 pm

        Just looked at CCleaner's Registry options....it has the ability to backup CHANGES it will make to the registry, but I don't see an option to back up the ENTIRE registry.

        • Aaron Couch
          March 13, 2013 at 8:56 pm

          Ah! You're right. Good catch there. Thanks for checking on that.

  10. dragonmouth
    March 12, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    While your articles is Windows-centric, the same advice applies to Macs and Linux PCs.

    "Don’t eat food at your computer."
    That one should be "Don’t eat food OR drink at your computer". Food crumbs just make the keyboard look messy but can be vacuumed out. Liquids, at worst, can get into the inner workings of a laptop and short it out or short out the keyboard on your PC. At best, liquids can gum up electrical contacts causing intermittent problems, and their residue is very hard to remove.

    One should not smoke while working on the computer. Ashes, like dust, can get into all the nooks and crannies of a computer. As a tech I have seen quite a few PC with nicotine and tar deposits on fans, chips and vital parts.

    • acouch
      March 12, 2013 at 10:33 pm

      Very valid point there. I'm not a smoker so that didn't even cross my mind, but that's definitely true.

      As far as the drinks go though, I don't know if I could NOT have something to drink while working. I keep it far enough away from my laptop that it's not a risk. Sure, things can happen, but I think something called "reason" can help prevent the majority of accidents.

      Still all good points though. Thanks for the comment.

      • dragonmouth
        March 12, 2013 at 11:48 pm

        "I think something called “reason” can help prevent the majority of accidents."
        As an online buddy of mine says in his sig "Accidents don't just happen, they have to be carelessly arranged" /grin/

    • macwitty
      March 13, 2013 at 4:47 pm

      I agree about eating and drinking when using the keyboard on a laptop - otherwise I eat and drink and it happens I got a cup of coffee over the keyboard - great time to buy a new or put it in a dish washer to get it clean (do not forget to wash the keys separate)

      • dragonmouth
        March 13, 2013 at 9:21 pm

        From your comment it sounds like you're a smoker. I was not making a moral judgment about smoking. We all have our vices. I was just relating my experiences. The worst I have seen was computer that looked as if someone dumped used engine oil all over the inside and it stank of nicotine. When I saw/smelled that, I closed the case and put the PC out on the curb for garbage.

        • macwitty
          March 14, 2013 at 12:06 pm

          Are you saying that all people who eat and/or drink when using a computer are smokers? Then there must be a lot more smokers than the statistics show. I've just come from a coffeehouse with free wifi and there sat almost all with laptops and coffee cups something I wouldn't dare to.

        • dragonmouth
          March 14, 2013 at 12:22 pm

          My error. You said "I agree about eating and drinking when using the keyboard on a laptop" from which I assumed that you do not agree with not smoking at the keyboard.

  11. Doc
    March 12, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    One thing you didn't cover, which I thought was inexcusable, is installing a decent antivirus program and/or anti-malware. Most new PCs are sold with a "trial" version antivirus program, like a 30-day license of Norton or McAfee. Remove that junk and install something with a one-year lifespan, such as AVG, Avast!, or something else reputable.

    • Aaron Couch
      March 13, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      Doc,

      Don't worry -- I didn't forget about it. That comes in the next article (Part 3) about what software to install. There were some grey areas between some of these articles. Ideally they would have all been one article, but I had to draw a line somewhere and so after much debate I decided to put the antivirus section in the article covering the installation of new software.

      Thanks for commenting and for your input. We're on the same page, I think :)

  12. Garris Rago
    March 12, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Definetely some good tips. I recently learned about creating a system image after it being talked about somewhere on makeuseof, use this for my mums laptop which needed a restore to factory settings (just easiest for her situation, i know you can clean it up and stuff) remove a bucketload of HP bloatware and now have peace of mind it won't take me anywhere as near as long next time as it did this time.