How to set up your new computer

So you’ve got a new computer. That humble metal box can help you with everything from juggling your finances to keeping in touch with your family to blowing off some steam.

How to set up your new computer

Performing just a few simple activities when you first fire it up can help it be safer, faster, and better poised for the future. According to, here’s how to set up a new laptop or desktop computer the right way, step by step.

Run Windows update on your new PC

The first step is by far the most tedious. You shouldn’t browse the web unless your copy of Windows is fully patched and up to date. 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. In Windows 10, open the Start menu and head to Settings > Update and security > 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 but in worst-case scenarios, updating a new computer can take an hour or more.

On the bright side, Windows 10 will download and install new updates as they roll out in the future. You just have to get over this initial hump!

Install your favourite browser

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 is not pretty. You can either choose to browse with Chrome, Firefox, and Opera .

Set up your new PC’s security

Now that you’ve slipped into something more comfortable, it’s time to get your security in place.

Windows 10 ships with Windows Defender enabled by default unless your laptop or desktop includes a third-party antivirus trial. Defender is a solid, if not overly detailed security solution that’s simple to use and probably good enough for most people, though it isn’t the most full-featured anti-malware solution. You can’t even schedule scans! PCWorld’s guide to the best antivirus for Windows PCs can help you find all the right tools to keep your PC protected.

Clean your computer’s bloatware

You can skip this step if you built your own Windows PC—including installation of the operating system—or bought a “Signature Edition” computer from a Microsoft store. Straight Windows installations don’t come with excess junk cluttering up your hard drive. But boxed PCs from big-name PC makers are inevitably brimming with bloatware.

Fortunately, there’s PC Decrapifier, a straightforwardly named tool that scans your PC for known bloatware, then allows you to wipe it all away in one fell swoop. It’s far faster than hunting through the Control Panel, eradicating crapware piece by piece. Better yet, it’s free.

Most people should stick to PC Decrapifier, but there’s an even more thorough cleansing available only for people who feel comfortable reinstalling their entire operating system.

If you’d rather nuke everything from above, Microsoft also offers a downloadable tool that installs a clean copy of the most recent version of Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro but without any apps that aren’t part of Microsoft’s default Windows 10 setup. It seriously doesn’t mess around, as Microsoft drives home in the tool’s description: “Using this tool will remove all apps that don’t come standard with Windows, including other Microsoft apps such as Office. It will also remove most pre-installed apps, including manufacturer apps, support apps, and drivers.”

This tool will wipe out any product keys or digital licenses associated with that software too, so if you want to keep some of the software, be sure to jot down the product key before using Microsoft’s fresh start tool, using something like Belarc Advisor to find it.

Fill your new computer with software

Why would we scrape all that junk out? To make room for your own stuff.  Outfitting your rig is an intensely personal affair, but if you’re looking for suggestions, PCWorld has a guide to the best free programs that are so helpful  that they’d be welcome on pretty much any PC.

Ninite is like an anti-PC Decrapifier—it lets you install numerous free applications of your choice all at once, even going so far as to automatically disable the bundled crapware that many free programs try to sneak in as part of the installation process. It’s a wonderfully handy tool that takes the pain out of loading up a new PC.


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