After Installing Windows 10: 5 Things You Must Do

Windows 10 is a behemoth. Even after you’ve gone through the tedious process of preparing your system to install Windows 10 Do This Before Every Windows 10 Update or Installation Windows 10 gets major updates twice a year, plus monthly updates. We show you what you should do before running Windows Update. Now Patch Tuesday can come! Read More and sitting through the long installation procedure, you still have more work to do: setting up the operating system how you like it.

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Here are some of the bare minimum things you’ll want to do after installing a clean slate of Windows 10. If you want to skip some steps, that’s your call, but we recommend all of the following for the best experience possible.

1. Update Windows 10

I know, there are so many reasons to hate Windows Update This Is Why We Hate Windows Update The way Windows Update currently forces Windows 10 upgrades and updates on you is bad. Gavin examines what makes all of us hate Windows Update and what you can do against it. Read More .

Updates always happen at the worst times. It never seems to respect what you’re doing. Buggy updates can render your computer unusable for days or weeks. Everything about it is messy. But these days, Windows Update is a necessary evil.

After Installing Windows 10: 5 Things You Must Do windows 10 update in progress

You may have heard horror stories about the Creators Update and Fall Creators Update, and you may think you’re better off disabling updates altogether, even in light of the nifty new features you could be enjoying.

But there’s one big reason why you should update: bug fixes and security patches. You do not want to leave your computer vulnerable to exploits and loopholes. Staying up-to-date with patches will minimize some of your risk of catching nasty malware.

To install Windows Updates:

  1. In the Start Menu, search for windows update, then select Windows Update settings.
  2. Click Check for updates to see if any updates are available. On a newly installed copy of Windows 10, you’ll likely find many pending updates.
  3. Wait for the updates to download and prepare.
  4. When prompted, click Restart now to apply the updates.

Learn more about how to manage Windows Update How to Manage Windows Update in Windows 10 For control freaks, Windows Update is a nightmare. It works in the background, and keeps your system safe and running smoothly. We show you how it works and what you can customize. Read More , what to do when Windows Update is stuck When Windows Update Is Stuck, Try This Is Windows Update giving you a headache? We have compiled seven tips to help you get it un-stuck. Read More , and how to temporarily disable Windows Update 7 Ways to Temporarily Turn Off Windows Update in Windows 10 Windows Update keeps your system patched and safe. In Windows 10 you're at the mercy of Microsoft's schedule unless you know hidden settings and tweaks. So, keep Windows Update under control. Read More .

2. Install the Latest Drivers

A device driver is a piece of software that interfaces with and controls how a particular device works when connected to the system. In other words, drivers allow Windows to communicate with hardware without knowing how the hardware itself is programmed.

Drivers are provided by hardware manufacturers, and like most software in the world, drivers are never perfect. Sometimes they’re buggy. Other times they simply go out of date, such as when the operating system updates, and lose functionality or performance.

After Installing Windows 10: 5 Things You Must Do hardware motherboard drivers

Keeping drivers updated is important for two reasons: one, to make sure all hardware features stay available, and two, to make sure your hardware runs at optimal performance.

We’ve written two entire articles on this, including how to find and replace outdated drivers How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers Your drivers might be outdated and need updating, but how are you to know? Here's what you need to know and how to go about it. Read More and taking back control over driver updates Take Back Control Over Driver Updates in Windows 10 A bad Windows driver can ruin your day. In Windows 10, Windows Update automatically updates hardware drivers. If you suffer the consequences, let us show you how to roll back your driver and block future... Read More . It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. Fortunately, Windows 10 made driver updates relatively painless, so don’t ignore them!

3. Install Essential Software

Even though Windows 10 comes with a lot of bloatware, none of it is very practical. To get your system set up for day-to-day use, you’ll want to install some real software. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are some of our best starting points.

Install Antivirus Software

Door locks may not be 100 percent effective at deterring burglars, but does that mean you’re going to stop locking your door at night? Of course not, and the same holds true for antivirus software: imperfect but still a good idea.

After Installing Windows 10: 5 Things You Must Do hacker laptop dark

On the one hand, Windows Defender is better than nothing. On the other hand, you can do better.

We recommend one of these free internet security suites 5 Best Free Internet Security Suites for Windows Which security suite do you trust the most? We look at five of the best free security suites for Windows, all of which offer anti-virus, anti-malware, and real-time protection features. Read More to keep your system protected. In addition, we recommend downloading the free version of Malwarebytes and running it once every week or so. Keep it installed because it’s crucial for malware detection and removal The Complete Malware Removal Guide Malware is everywhere these days, and eradicating malware from your system is a lengthy process, requiring guidance. If you think your computer is infected, this is the guide you need. Read More !

Install Web Software

I don’t think Microsoft Edge is that bad, but it still has some serious issues that need to be addressed. As of this writing, we can’t recommend it for use as an everyday web browser.

Instead, you should look into the new Firefox Quantum browser Firefox Quantum Arrives to Challenge Google Chrome Firefox Quantum is faster, better-looking, more streamlined, and more useful, and it may be able to give Chrome a run for its money. It certainly uses less RAM... Read More . Rebuilt from the ground up, Firefox Quantum boasts lightning-fast performance and smooth usability. If you don’t like Firefox, then Opera should be your next consideration I Switched From Chrome to Opera and I’m Never Going Back Any browser works. There's only one reason to pick one over another: it's more in line with how you like to browse the web. And you might prefer Opera, too. Read More . And if not Opera, then Chrome is always a strong fallback (but Chrome comes with its own set of issues 10 Annoying Chrome Issues and How to Fix Them If you are experiencing Chrome problems, you've come to the right place. In this article, we take a look at some of the most common flaws and provide guidance on how to fix them. Read More ).

Install Media Software

Music and video, the two most important forms of entertainment today. If you’re happy using Spotify and Netflix, then you don’t really need to install anything. But if you still prefer to download music and videos, here’s what you need.

After Installing Windows 10: 5 Things You Must Do media video player

Nothing beats VLC Media Player. It’s free, open source, time-tested, packed with features, and has great performance even on lowly machines. Want something a bit flashier or maybe even more lightweight? Check out these alternative free media players.

As for music, foobar2000 still remains king after all these years. It’s completely free, extensible with plugins, highly customizable, extremely lightweight, and supports almost every format. If you want more eye candy though, consider these alternative free music players The 5 Best Free Music Players for Windows Downloading music still has its benefits. For one, you can play music even when you don't have internet access. But which music player should you use? Find the best free music players here. Read More .

Install Productivity Software

Only you can decide what software actually makes you more productive. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. That being said, here are some apps that generally lead to more productivity. Feel free to pick and choose among them.

4. Change Default Windows Settings

Windows 10’s out-of-the-box settings aren’t optimal for anybody. Sure, the system might be usable, but you probably won’t have a good experience. The best thing to do is get it personalized right away so you can settle in and not worry about it later on.

Change Default Applications

Windows 10 comes with default apps for handling day-to-day activities, but they aren’t very good. Once you’ve installed the apps you intend to use (did you heed our recommendations above?), you can set them as default with these easy steps:

  1. In the Start Menu, search for default app, then select Default app settings.
  2. Select your preferred apps for Email, Music, Photos, Video, and Web Browsing.
  3. Below that, click on Choose default apps by file type to associate various programs with other file types, such as PDF, DOCX, TXT, etc.

Disable Unnecessary Startup Items

After installing Windows 10 and a bunch of third-party apps, some of them may have sneakily set themselves up to run at startup. Unfortunately, this can slow down your system and force you to wait several long minutes every time you reboot your machine.

To disable unnecessary startup items in Windows 10:

  1. Open the Task Manager with Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
  2. Click More details to switch to the advanced view.
  3. Click the Startup tab.
  4. Right-click on every app you don’t want to start automatically and select Disable to prevent it from launching on startup.

Optimize Appearance Settings

Surprisingly, Windows 10 doesn’t look half bad. The interface is modern and the animations are pleasing, which is great if you like eye candy. But these appearance features impact system performance — a lot more than you might realize — and disabling some of them can actually make your system feel smoother and more responsive.

To optimize Windows 10 appearance settings for your system:

  1. In the Start Menu, type adjust appearance and select Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows.
  2. Under the Visual Effects tab, select either Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer (which will strike a healthy balance between eye candy and performance) or Adjust for best performance (which will disable all the performance-heavy features).
  3. Click OK.

Optimize Power Plan Settings

Windows 10’s Power Plan settings allow you to tweak various aspects of the operating system that involve power usage. This is essential for laptop users, but can also prove important for desktop users (e.g. how long before the screen turns off when idle). We recommend the “High plan” for desktops and the “Balanced plan” for laptops.

You can then tweak your power plan using these steps:

  1. In the Start Menu, search for power plan and select Choose a power plan.
  2. Select the plan you want, then click Change plan settings at the right.
  3. Click Change advanced power settings.
  4. In particular, you should edit the settings under the Hard disk, Sleep, Power buttons and lid, Processor power management, and Display categories.
  5. Click OK.

Tweak Privacy Settings

It’s true: Windows 10 does collect all kinds of information on how you use the operating system. Some are okay with this, but maybe you feel it’s a violation of privacy. The good news is, Microsoft lets you turn a lot of these features off. The bad news is, you can’t turn everything off. No matter what, some of your data will find its way to Microsoft.

Find out more about what exactly gets collected in our article on Windows 10, privacy, and telemetry. As far as which settings you should tweak?

  • General privacy settings
  • Telemetry privacy settings
  • Microsoft account privacy settings
  • Cortana privacy settings
  • Windows Store privacy settings

As you can see, you have a lot to tweak. See our article on managing your privacy in Windows 10 Don't Let Windows 10 Spy on You: Manage Your Privacy! Windows 10 is watching you. Microsoft's latest operating system is undoubtedly harvesting more of your personal information than ever before. We'll show you how to get a better grip on your privacy. Read More to learn more about how to tweak these settings, including which third-party apps can speed up the process and make your life easier.

Other Windows Settings to Consider

In addition to the above, you may want to think about using a local account instead of a Microsoft account How to Change Default Apps and Settings in Windows 10 Here's how to change default programs in Windows 10 if you're not happy with how the OS behaves out of the box. Read More for general operating system use, customizing the Action Center and its notifications How to Customize & Disable the Windows 10 Action Center The Windows 10 Action Center is a tool for power users. It collects all your important notifications and key system shortcuts in the Taskbar. We'll show you how to configure your Action Center to perfection. Read More to be less intrusive, and personalizing almost every inch of Windows 10 The 8 Best Tools to Tweak and Customize Windows 10 Want to give your PC a unique look? Learn how to customize Windows 10 with these powerful tweak tools that cover your every need. Read More .

5. Set Up Backup Methods

Imagine going through all of this setup only to catch a virus that wipes all of your settings. Or what if you wake up one morning and your hard drive is dead? Maybe a family member deletes an important file and you don’t realize until it’s long gone.

All of these hypotheticals point to one truth: you need to back up your data!

Never made backups before? That’s perfectly fine. Consult our guide to backing up and restoring data in Windows 10 The Windows Backup and Restore Guide Disasters happen. Unless you're willing to lose your data, you need a good Windows backup routine. We'll show you how to prepare backups and restore them. Read More to learn everything you need to know, including how backups work, where to store backups, how often you should back up data, what software to use, etc. Also, see our article on which files to back up and which to skip Backup 101: Windows Files and Folders You Should Always Back Up Are you backing up the right things? We'll show you which files and folders you should always back up and where to find them in Windows. Read More .

Now your Windows 10 machine should be ready to go! Are there any other post-installation tips that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Explore more about: Computer Maintenance, Data Backup, Drivers, Install Software, Windows 10, Windows Update.

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  1. NAME
    August 12, 2019 at 11:13 am

    where's total commander??? it must be on the first place! ;)

  2. pmshah
    January 6, 2018 at 9:39 am

    I beg to differ with respect to 2 application choices.

    Firefox Quantum sucks BIG time. After fighting with it for several weeks I finally gave up. Contrary to its claim as a fast browser it is slower than even Opera Potable. Almost none of the addons work which for me was the main attraction.

    Secondly the for the media player Daum PotPlayer beats EVERYTHING else hands down. VLC and Foobar don't even come close in features or usability. Just wish They came up with a version for Android.

    • Perry F. Bruns
      January 18, 2018 at 3:36 am

      I've been using Waterfox for a couple of weeks now, and I like it a lot.

  3. Ron MVP
    January 6, 2018 at 7:58 am

    #1 Update
    If you use the MS Media Creation Tool:
    you will be able to then download the most current Window ISO's. In that case you should have none, or very few new updates to apply. Yes, update has to be done before, but it will be relatively painless compared to the endless update and boot cycles we had to endure in the past.

    #3 Productivity Software
    Why do you still mention zip tools since Win 10 already has built in ZIP support.

    #4 Change Win Settings
    As well as default startup programs, we should be changing default Windows Services. There is lots of generic stuff that not everyone needs to use. For example, I don't use Bluetooth, so I don't need that service. There are many more like that. There are a number of "hardening" sites that identify services and which ones you can turn off and which you shouldn't. Here are just a few ie: - this site has been around for a couple of decades

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Marc Wilson
    January 6, 2018 at 3:27 am

    If you dislike the "my first computer" look of Win10, especially the massive waste of screen space that the panels represent (if you don't have a touchscreen), I suggest:

    1) Classic Shell
    2) WinAero Tweaker

    And if you want to slam the door on the "telemetry" (or as I call it, keylogging),

    1) Anti-Beacon

  5. DarenK
    January 6, 2018 at 2:56 am

    You mean someone actually wrote this article in 2017? I mean come on it's pretty much common sense nowadays. The way the headline was written it makes you wonder what the hell is so important now, only to find out it's old news that has been covered hundreds of times already. MUO must be running out of things to write about.

    • Filippo
      January 6, 2018 at 6:50 am

      It's nice to have an article that sums it all up and at the right points gives reference to previous articles regarding single matters.

  6. Alison Cunliffe
    January 6, 2018 at 1:54 am

    This is really getting to be a habit -- I wish MUO would stop telling me in headlines that I MUST do this or that. It's so annoying I'm going to have to unsubscribe soon if you can't write less obnoxious ones.

    • Filippo
      January 6, 2018 at 6:59 am

      The title is perfectly clear and grammatically correct as to what is the content of the article.
      The "must" doesn't mean to tell you what to do in your life, it's an indicator of the degree of need that this issues have to be addressed. It's the best choice of verb in this case. It's not journalism malpractice. Seriously, try and choose another word.

      • Alison Cunliffe
        January 6, 2018 at 4:51 pm

        It's very easy to choose another, less obnoxious and less-overused (on recent Make Use Of articles) verb. One that immediately comes to mind as more accurate as well is:
        5 Things You ***Should*** Do

        I could think of a dozen alternatives but don't wish to belabour the point.

        I would also direct you to

        Yes, the second definition is "ought by all means to". It's also the secondary meaning. You say "must" doesn't mean to tell you what to do in your life. The dictionary says you're wrong. If you want to communicate what you want to say to the rest of the human race, it just plain doesn't work to tell people a word doesn't mean what everybody else thinks it means.

        • Filippo
          January 10, 2018 at 9:41 am

          “Should” doesn't get the point. Do you really think the authors didn't think of “should”, or “ought by all means do”, or other ways to say it? It's just that those words don't make the best titling. Titling has to be fast and clear, especially on a media where people read hundreds of titles in a glance. It's part of your job as a reader to understand what somebody is trying to tell you, and the means he/she has to accomplish that.

          I'm sorry buy your comment seemed just too close to a hater comment. Just because you have the ability to comment doesn't mean you “should” shame people in front of everybody the rude way you did. Comments to a specific article are not there for you to blame the whole magazine, but only to address the content of the article. Yours is a bad way to use this great feature of the media.

          If you could think of a dozen alternatives, write them, don't say that you could.

          Your way of interpreting “must” implied that you thought the people who wrote the article were forcing you to do something, and instead of just not doing it, you wrote and angry comment about taking away your subscription.
          Why don't you look up “mature” on the dictionary.

  7. David Mcgregor
    December 31, 2017 at 4:44 am

    The best thing to do after you install windows 10 would be restore back to windows 7 if you can if you can't reinstall with a disk or flash drive. Or if you have a Linux distro on a flash drive install it on to PC's hard drive.

  8. Dave Hitchman
    December 30, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    I really do NOT care that you think that being constantly tethered to the internet every time I want to look at an email is a sensible thing, for me it is not. Further updates from Microsoft for windows 10 take ages and keep breaking it.
    It would be really useful for this site (as it advertises in google search) to tell me how to stop the updates AND provide a link to download the old proper functioning really works, not a pile of rubbish outlook express... after all nothing that Microsoft has made in the last 20 years has been better than the version before... in any way shape or form.

  9. Colin
    December 30, 2017 at 10:59 am

    As a rule of thumb, you shouldn't need to bother with driver updates unless you have a problem, like a misbehaving printer. As well as this, Win 10 is pretty aggressive with driver updates, more so than previous versions, and it should take care of most people's needs when they do a Win update. In fact, even if you do update your drivers there's a good chance Win will overwrite them anyway.

    The exception to the rule is gamers. Win won't necessarily give you the most up-to-date graphics drivers. Instead, you need to use the GPUs own control centre. Making sure you have the latest drivers, in this instance, makes sure you're getting the best possible gaming experience.

    It's also worth mentioning that driver updating programs are best avoided.

    • Bruce K.
      January 5, 2018 at 3:17 pm

      Your right about Windows 10 being aggressive about drivers. Every couple of months the wife summons me to her home office PC because the monitor is all "wonky" again. And every time this happens, it's due to a Windows update that overwrote the custom settings of her GPU's control center. I've easily spent more time "fixing" her year old Windows 10 machine than I have in the last 8 years of maintaining the several Linux machines in my own office. It's not that Windows 10 is entirely bad, it's just a huge time waster and at age 68 I have better things to do with my time.