Windows

I’ve bought a new Windows PC: what are the first five things I should do?

New Windows PC
Lights, action: here's what to do with a new laptop

You’re the slightly less well-off owner of a new Windows PC or laptop. Smashing. Now what? Before you fire up Football Manager or start downloading the entire internet (morning, Dad), here are five things you should do to help your new purchase run more smoothly.

1. Update Windows

Your PC has almost certainly been shelved in a warehouse for the past few weeks or months. It might not have the latest version of Windows installed and is highly unlikely to have the latest security updates.

As soon as you’ve gone through the setup process and arrive at the Windows desktop, type “update” into the Windows 10 search bar in the bottom left of the screen and click on Check for Updates.

On the next screen, click Check for Updates again and let it do its thing. You might as well get this pain out of the way early and start with a fully up-to-date machine.

2. Get shot of the antivirus software

This might sound crazy, but hear me out. The antivirus software provided with new PCs is often only a trial. You might only get a month or three months of full service before it will start nagging you to pay for a subscription. And boy, does this type of software nag.

Unless you’ve been provided with a year’s worth of protection, I’d spare yourself the hassle and get shot now. Windows Defender – the built-in Windows security software – is perfectly fine and unobtrusive. You’ll see it gets low scores in security suite tests, but these tests are conducted in such synthetic conditions they’re barely worth the paper they’re printed on.

Once you’ve uninstalled Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky or whatever came with the PC – and don’t be put off by the nuclear-grade warnings they flash up when you attempt to uninstall them – you need to make sure Windows Defender is turned on.

Type “defender” into the search bar, click on Windows Defender Security Settings and then click Open Windows Defender Security Centre. Make sure you see the green ticks shown below, and if you don’t, click on each icon to switch them on.

Windows Defender Security Center

3. Check the specs

PCs come in all manner of different configurations, while manufacturers such as Dell let you choose your own spec. You want to make sure you’ve got what you paid for, especially when it comes to key components such as storage, processor and memory.

First, go and find your order form and get a complete spec of what you ordered. Then type “system” into the search box and open System Information.

Here you should see a listing of your processor, memory (Installed Physical RAM) and Windows version (if you’ve paid for Pro make sure you’ve got it).

To check your storage, click on Components in the left-hand menu, then Storage, followed by Drives. Don’t be alarmed if your storage is slightly less than stipulated. My 1TB drive is reported as 952.62GB for example. This is a complicated matter of rounding that I’m not going to dive into here.

System Information

4. Download new drivers

Windows is pretty good at handling hardware such as printers, cameras and scanners these days. Plug them in and they generally just work. However, if you’ve got a device that Windows is refusing to acknowledge, you may need to download new drivers. The easiest way is to Google it.

Type the device’s model name and “Windows 10 driver” into the search box, and nine times out of ten the top result will be the manufacturer’s website, where you can download the software. I’d strongly advise against downloading drivers from third-party sites, unless you’re a massive fan of malware.

5. Say Ninite

No, don’t go to bed. Instead, head to Ninite.com to take your pick from a menu of everyday utilities that you might want to install on your new PC, including web browsers, media players (such as Spotify), online storage apps (such as Dropbox) and loads more.

You just tick the apps you want and Ninite wraps them all up into a single installer, that not only shreds all the extra crap that sometimes comes with these apps, but saves you from visiting each site separately to download their software. It’s brilliant with a capital B. Don’t go mad, though. You don’t want to weigh down a nimble new PC with a load of unnecessary guff.

Hang on a minute…

What, I hear you ask, about transferring all my data from my old PC to the new one? Well, there are several ways to do that and we’ll cover that in another article that we will publish shortly.

Now read this: How do I get photos from my phone or camera onto my new computer?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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