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Bought a new notebook or PC? Do these six things first

So you got a new computer. This humble metal box is the key to a wide world of new possibilities. This can help you with everything from juggling your finances, keeping in touch with your family and enjoying the thousands of games available on Steam.

But a new PC is not like a new car; You can't just turn a key and put the pedal on the metal. Ok, maybe you can, but you shouldn't. Performing some simple activities when you first start it can help you ensure more safety and speed. Here's how to set up a new laptop or desktop computer the right way, step by step.

1. Run Windows Update on your new PC

The first step by far the most tedious. You should not search the web unless your Windows copy is fully patched and up to date. Now for the bad news: Depending on how long your PC has been on the retail shelf, it can take minutes or hours. Either way, it has to be done.

First, make sure your PC is connected to the internet. In Windows 10, open the Start menu and go to Settings> Update & Security> Check for Updates. Your system looks for updates and finds some. Download and install them, then restart your computer and do the same process again. And again. And again, until the update check fails to return new entries. I hope it doesn't take too long, but in the worst cases updating a new computer can take an hour or more.

On the plus side, Windows 10 will download and install new updates as they are released in the future.

2. Install your favorite browser

Surfing the web in an unfamiliar browser like trying to dance tango while you wear someone else's shoes. This can be done, but not the most recommended. Here are the direct links to Chrome, Firefox and Opera, if Edge is not what you like.

Chrome is our choice for years, but a resurgent Opera has usurped Google's browser in our latest round of web browser testing. It's the best browser you can use right now if you don't mind moving away from Chrome. If your taste is more exotic, you may also be interested in one of these 10 obscure and highly specialized browsers.

3. Set up the security of your new PC

Windows 10 comes with Windows Security enabled by default unless your laptop or desktop includes a third-party antivirus assessment. Windows Security is a solid, if not overly detailed, simple to use, excellent solution for detecting malware, and probably good enough for most people. However, it is not the most complete anti-malware solution available. You can't even schedule checks. The guide of PCWorld The best antivirus for Windows PCs can help you find all the right tools to keep your PC protected.

We also have a guide to creating a solid free security suite, but it takes more work and work than premium antivirus options.

4. Clean your computer's bloatware

With your defenses up, it's time to start removing everything that takes up unnecessary space on your PC.

You can skip this step if you have built your own Windows PC. Direct installs of Windows do not come with the excess garbage going through your hard drive. But PCs from major PC makers are inevitably packed with bloatware.

Fortunately, there is PC Decrapifier, a tool that scans your PC for known bloatware and allows you to clean everything at once. It's much faster than searching the Control Panel, eradicating parts in flight. Better yet: free.

Most people should follow with the help of this program, but there is an even more thorough cleaning available only to people who are comfortable with reinstalling the entire operating system.

If you prefer to look at all of the above, Microsoft also offers a downloadable tool that installs a clean copy of the latest version of Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro, but without applications that are not part of the standard Windows 10 configuration. Microsoft. This is not serious, as Microsoft drives home in the description of the tool: ?Using this tool will remove all non-standard Windows applications, including other Microsoft applications, such as Office. It also remove most pre-installed applications including manufacturer apps, support apps and drivers.

This tool also cleans all product keys or digital licenses associated with this software. So if you want to keep some software on the go (like Office, for example), write down the product key before using Microsoft's new start tool, using something like Belarc Advisor to find it.

5. Fill Your New Computer With Software

Why get rid of all these programs? To make room for things themselves. New hardware begs for the software to be compatible.

Equipping your device is an intensely personal matter, but if you are looking for suggestions, the PCWorld It has a guide to the best free programs that are so useful that they are welcome on almost any PC. These review reviews can also guide you toward some of the best software available:

Go to Ninite when it's time to install all this software. Ninite as an anti-PC decrapper – lets you install several free applications of your choice at one time, even disabling the bundled crapware that many free programs try to infiltrate as part of the installation process. It's a wonderfully useful tool that eliminates the need to load a new PC.

6. Back up your new computer

After all, your PC is finally ready: secure, up-to-date, junk-free, and full of software tailored to meet your specific needs. The end is in sight! But we are not done yet.

Now that your PC is in top form, it is the perfect time to create a clone or image of your primary hard drive (the one Windows starts up) and save it to another hard drive. A clone or image creates a snapshot of your drive, which you can use to boot Windows if the main drive gives up on the ghost. Having an image of your system in its current updated, bloatware-free, and custom state prevents you from having to do all this bravery work again if you need to reinstall Windows for any reason.

So what is the difference between a clone and an image? Essentially, a clone creates an exact copy of your hard drive on another drive – files, master boot record and all. The clone consumes the entire hard drive, but plug-and-play if you need to use it. The images, on the other hand, create a gigantic single file containing all the material on your PC. It takes a little more work to prepare an image backup to run after a disaster, but you have more flexibility in how to store it, since it's essentially just a large large file. Lincoln Spector has a more detailed comparison if you are interested.

There are excellent backup tools available that allow you to create clones and images, which we cover in detail in the summaries of PCWorld of the best Windows backup software and best online backup services. Don't want to pay for data protection? We've also put together the best free backup options, and if you don't mind doing more technical work to save you money, we'll explain how to use the native Windows imaging tool step by step in the PCWorld to create a free app with foolproof backup system. Regular backups are the only saviors of your data should a disaster occur.

Optional: Update Your PC Drivers

This step is not for everyone. Few things can introduce problematic things into your machine faster than a driver that refuses to work well for any reason. If your out-of-the-box desktop PC is working well and you plan to perform basic tasks such as surfing the web, working with Office, and the like, feel free to forget that your computer still has drivers and keep it up. Windows Update must have gotten reasonably new drivers for your hardware.

But if you have set up a piece of your own or are using a gaming machine, it's a good idea to check if there are newer drivers available for your hardware. Windows Update is not always on the verge of driver updates, and new drivers for, say, your motherboard or network card can provide beneficial feature and performance updates. Gamers will need to update their graphics card drivers quite often to ensure optimal performance in the latest games. Fortunately, you can easily do this using the indispensable graphics from NVIDIA and AMD, and they let you know when new ones are available.

The guide of PCWorld To update your Windows drivers you have all the information you need to proceed. It was written for Windows 8, but if you look for Device Manager in Windows 10, all the same steps described in the article will still apply. If somehow a driver can connect your PC, that's the theme, because Windows automatically creates a system restore point when you install new device drivers.

And if a real disaster happens in some extreme and bizarre case, you have the backup image you created – right?

Optional: Learn about your new computer.

Now that all the work is done, take the time to learn all the nooks and crannies of Windows 10 – there are many surprisingly powerful and useful tools and tricks hidden deep inside. Check out the guide to PCWorld for the best Windows 10 tips, tools and tricks, which we update with all major Windows half-yearly updates. You acquire a lot of useful knowledge.

Enjoy!

At this point you are practically ready to venture into your new computer. Of course, there are a few other tasks you should perform, such as moving files from your old PC and saving product keys for Windows and other installed software, but you can do it to your liking. recreation. For now, enjoy the glory of owning a new PC that is fully optimized, protected from attack and recoverable in the event of a disaster.