So you've got a new PC. Awesome! That humble metal box is the key to a wide world of potential. It can help you with everything from juggling your finances to keeping in touch with Grandma to blowing off some steam on, uh, Steam.
But a new PC isn't like a new car; you can't just turn a key and put the pedal to the metal. Okay, maybe you can--but you shouldn't. Performing just a few simple activities when you first fire it up can help it be safer, faster, and better poised for the future. Here's how to set up a new PC the right way, step by step.
Hurry up and wait with Windows Update
The first step is by far the most tedious. You shouldn't muck around on the web unless your copy of Windows is fully patched and up to date, period. Now for the bad news: Depending on how long your PC sat on the retail shelf, this could take minutes--or hours. Either way, it has to get done.
First, make sure your PC's connected to the Internet. Open the Windows Control Panel, then head to System and Security > Windows Update > Check for Updates. Your system will search for updates, and find some. Download and install them, then reboot your computer and do it again... and again... and again... until the update check fails to return new entries. Hopefully it won't take too long.
By default, Windows will download and install new updates as they roll out. You just have to get over this initial hump!
Install your favorite browser
Because surfing the web in an unfamiliar browser is like trying to tango while you're wearing someone else's shoes. It can be done, but it ain't pretty. Here are direct links for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera if Internet Explorer isn't your thing.
Batten down the hatches
Now that you've slipped into something more comfortable, it's time to get your security ducks in a row.
Windows 8 ships with Windows Defender enabled by default. It's a decent, if not overly detailed security solution. But PC makers can disable Defender if they want to preinstall trialware for a premium security solution--like Norton or McAfee's antivirus products--on your PC. If you decide to keep paying for that premium product, swell! (Though I'd suggest doing your homework before plunking down cash for a security suite.) If not, disable and delete that bloatware suite and then reactivate Windows Defender.
Windows Defender isn't included in prior versions of Windows, however, nor is it the most full-featured anti-malware solution out there. You can't even schedule scans! PCWorld's guide to building the ultimate free security suite can help you find the right tools to keep your PC protected.
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