Technology Explained

11 Things You Must Do With a Brand New Laptop

Ben Stegner Updated 02-04-2020

Whether you’ve just bought a new laptop to replace an old one or upgraded to treat yourself, you should make some small investments in time to ensure the best experience down the road.


Here are the most important things to do when you get a new laptop, no matter which OS it runs.

1. Update the Operating System

Windows 10 May 2019 Windows Update

Whether you bought the laptop from a brick-and-mortar store or online, it likely sat around for several months. One of the first things to do with a new laptop, then, is to install any existing OS updates. This gets you the latest features and makes sure your system is secure.

To check for OS updates, perform the following:

2. Remove Bloatware

Bloatware is software preloaded on the operating system that’s unwanted or unnecessary. These apps are often useless, yet waste drive space and system resources. Windows laptop manufacturers are notorious for this, whereas it rarely happens on Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS laptops.


Follow our guide to removing bloatware in 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 to delete junk you don’t need. If you’re not sure whether a program is important, search for it on Google or Should I Remove It? to see what others think.

3. Review Antivirus Software

windows defender app

Windows 10 comes with Windows Defender built-in, which is good enough for most people. If you want some extra protection, you can pair it with other strong security tools.

Mac and Linux machines don’t include an antivirus out of the box. Careful browsing and a bit of common sense should protect you on both of these platforms, but you can install Mac antivirus software The 7 Best Truly Free Antivirus Software for Mac Viruses and security issues abound, even on Mac. It's critical that you use a free antivirus for Mac, no matter how smart you are. Read More or an antivirus for Linux for additional security.


Meanwhile, Chromebooks have built-in malware protection, so you don’t need anything special on that platform.

4. Configure Anti-Theft Tools

Next on the checklist of what to do with a new laptop is protecting yourself from theft. If someone stole your computer, you’d not only lose your device, but potentially all the data on it. Have measures in place to retrieve it if possible.

Windows 10 includes a built-in feature called Find My Device, located at Settings > Update & Security > Find my device. For a similar feature on macOS, visit System Preferences > Apple ID and select iCloud from the sidebar. Here, make sure you have Find My Mac enabled.

Both of these tools allow you to locate your laptop from another device logged into your Microsoft or Apple account. If you have a Chromebook, you can locate lost devices by heading to the Security section of your Google account settings and clicking Find a lost device.


For another option (which also works with Linux machines), check out Prey. It lets you track up to three devices on the free plan. See the below section on backups for another important way to protect your digital property from theft.

5. Optimize Power Settings

Energy Saver Mac settings

Since laptops are all about portability, maximizing battery life should be a priority. A few simple tweaks can result in a difference of hours per charge.

The most important step is to reduce the display brightness. Making it too dim could cause eye fatigue, so test out some options to find a comfortable balance between the extremes.


You can tweak Windows 10 power options for better battery life at Settings > Power & sleep > Additional power settings. We’ve also looked at how to improve battery life on a Mac How to Improve Your MacBook’s Battery Life While the current MacBooks are quite powerful, they have the same battery life as their predecessors. So what can you do? Quite a bit, it turns out. Read More . Many of these settings are accessible at System Preferences > Energy Saver.

Otherwise, try to avoid using resource-heavy apps when possible. Chrome is a notorious battery hog, so you’ll get better battery life with Safari, Edge, Opera, or another alternative browser.

6. Configure Automated Backups

Time Machine showing historical backups of Home folder

Before long, your laptop will be full of documents, projects, presentations, and all kinds of other personal data. What happens if it suddenly stops working or you drop it? You’d lose all that data, which is a terrible fate.

Don’t let that happen: set up a backup plan right now to protect your data.

Follow our 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 if you use that platform. On a Mac, you can use the native Time Machine backup tool. And there are a number of backup utilities for Linux to save your data.

On a Chromebook, anything stored in Google Drive is accessible from your Google account. You can also back up to an external drive, such as a USB stick.

7. Set Up Cloud Storage Syncing

There are still more things to do on your new laptop! In addition to a solid backup, cloud storage will make your life easier if you work on multiple devices.

Cloud storage services, like Dropbox and Google Drive, sync anything you place inside them to the company’s servers. You can then access those files from any device where you’re signed in. That means you can easily grab a file you were editing on your desktop while you’re out working on your laptop.

Whether you use it as a layer of backup or to avoid moving files with flash drives, cloud storage is essential for today’s computing. Check out the best free cloud storage providers 5 Best Free Cloud Storage Providers Use cloud storage and access your files from anywhere. Let's explore the best free cloud storage solutions you can opt for today. Read More to get started, or consider some cheap cloud storage services if you need more space.

8. Minimize Heat Damage

Laptops are usually more susceptible to heat than other types of machines. Desktop cases are large enough for good ventilation, and tablets don’t have to worry about dust buildup. Meanwhile, many laptops have poor air circulation and lots of spots for dust to accumulate.

Over time, a lack of ventilation plus dust buildups results in excess heat. This damage can cause your CPU to under-perform in an effort to produce less heat, which means slower system performance. Excess heat can also shorten internal storage drive lifespans and cause the battery to lose charging capacity prematurely.

Here are a few preventative measures to keep in mind regarding laptop heat:

9. Customize System Settings

Luv icon pack for Linux

Now that all maintenance-related tasks are out of the way, it’s time to make the laptop your own. This is the time to tweak the system theme, desktop wallpaper, taskbar layout, and other personalization options.

If you need some ideas, check out these resources:

10. Install Your Favorite Apps

Now that your laptop is clean and ready to go, it’s time to install all the apps you need. Depending on your OS, you might find these on the Microsoft Store, Mac App Store, Chrome Web Store, or a repository of Linux apps Linux App Stores Compared: Which One Is Right for You? Windows users are being guided to an app store. macOS has had one for a while. Linux, meanwhile, has had an app store-style experience for years. But which one is right for you? Read More . Many apps are only available to download from the developer’s website, however.

To install many popular Windows apps in one bundle, take a look at Ninite. This allows you to check all the apps you want to use and install them without clicking through dialog boxes or worrying about bundled junk. Mac users can try the similar

Not sure what to install? Here’s are some lists to get you started:

11. Start Using a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) may sound daunting, but using one is simple: you just download and run an app. The app encrypts your connection, protects against eavesdroppers, lets you access region-blocked content, and makes it harder to trace web activity back to you.

See our introduction to VPNs What Is a VPN? How Tunneling Protects Privacy Confused about what a VPN is? How do you use a VPN connection? Here's everything you need to know about VPN and what it means. Read More for more important info. Afterward, we recommend signing up for one of the best VPN services to protect your browsing on any platform. If you’re not sure, go with ExpressVPN—you can get three months free using our special link!

The Most Important Things to Do With a New Laptop

Now you know what to do when you get a new laptop. This preparation takes a bit of time to do correctly, but will make your experience smoother and hopefully increase the lifespan of your machine, too.

Looking for even more tips? Find out whether you should keep your laptop plugged in all the time, or check out ways to boost gaming performance on a laptop 10 Ways to Improve Gaming Performance on Your Laptop Want improved laptop gaming performance? Here's how to improve laptop performance and ensure you can easily run the games you want. Read More .

Image Credit: stockyimages/Shutterstock

Related topics: Antivirus, Computer Maintenance, Data Backup, Hardware Tips, Linux Tips, Mac Tips, Windows Tips.

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  1. Animal
    April 17, 2020 at 11:30 am

    Once you’ve gone to all this trouble, it’s time to create a restore point in case something does go wrong.

  2. carleyhaag
    April 3, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    "2. Remove Bloatware"
    First thing I do when I get a new computer is to completely remove any version of Windows that may be installed. Then I install either BSD or Linux.

    "4. Configure Anti-Theft Tools"
    All somebody has to do to bypass this is to replace the system drive, be it HD or SSD. Anti-theft should be built into the BIOS to be effective.

    "7. Set Up Cloud Storage Syncing"
    Any time you store your data on a third party sever, you are relinquishing control over that data to the server owner.

    "Ubuntu apps to install right away"
    Assuming that one is using a *buntu and not one of the hundreds of other available distros.

  3. Alfie
    March 1, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    Oh wow, just found this article as I bought a new laptop on Monday. Will need to go through the list again and definitely set some of the suggested apps up. The only one I already have is NordVPN. Been using that one for ages already. They're also pretty cheap right now:

  4. Doc
    September 12, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    Don't tell me what I "must" do. I take orders from no one. :)

    • Who cares
      October 3, 2018 at 8:06 pm


  5. Jessie
    September 12, 2017 at 12:20 am

    just installed ExpressVPN on my brand-spanking new Lenovo. Super easy it set up.

  6. dragonmouth
    September 11, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    "Some people say that laptops aren’t needed anymore: they’re less portable than tablets and less powerful than desktop PCs, straddling a weird “worst of both worlds” line."
    Following that line of reasoning, tablets are in the same predicament as laptops. Tablets are not as powerful or as functional as laptops and desktops, and are less portable than smartphones. Smartphones have all the capabilities of tablets AND can be used to actually make phone calls.