Setting up your new computer

You've just bought a new PC or you are upgrading your current PC's setup.
Don't know where to begin?
This guide will walk you through the steps to configure your PC into a usable and safe workstation.
Of course, not everyone has the exact same needs.
This is just a guide to get you started.


Install Windows
Install Firewall Software
Install Antivirus Software
Install Web Browser
Install Instant Messenger
Backup Your System
Update your software
Install other programmes
Back up your new system

Install Windows

If your PC doesn't have Windows on it at all, or you are doing a re-install, the installation of Windows will be your first step. There are a lot of variables involved in doing a Windows install so we won't go into to much detail here. There are several things to keep in mind when doing your install:

Keep it simple – Only install the absolute minimum.
Don't just select any and every option just because it is there.

It's better to start with a minimal configuration and add features rather than having a bloated configuration.

Make sure you have your installation info – If you bought Windows from a retail store, make sure you have the CD key BEFORE you start. You will reach a point in the install where you need the key. If you don't have it, your only option is to abort the install. Your system will be unusable until you complete the install.

Windows will auto-update itself during the installation.

Install Firewall Software

The firewall will help block attacks from hackers on the internet.
I would advise not connecting to the Internet until this is installed.
The built–in Windows firewall is a common choice since it passes all inbound tests (both stealth and open port) and doesn't have many popup alerts. It doesn't require installation, so it's not likely to conflict with your other programs. And many average users wouldn't reliably handle the popup alerts of the best firewalls on the market (especially at their max settings). If you scan clean for malware and you don't want the features of a third–party firewall, then the Windows firewall is a practical and useful solution.
You can replace the Windows firewall with a basic third–party firewall for easier control of outbound protection and additional features. Most simple two–way firewalls ask you to allow or deny Internet access for unknown programs. Many automatically allow trustworthy apps and remember your decisions to become silent over time. Read the rest of the article here.

To avoid potential conflicts only install one [third party] firewall.

Free Firewalls
Outpost Free [Security suite] Edition
Comodo Firewall Free Edition

Install Antivirus Software

Another critical piece of software, is your antivirus client. This software will protect you from viruses, trojan horse, and worms that are on the Internet. It is important to have this software installed, keep it updated and do regular scans of your entire hard drive.

FREE AntiVirus Software
AntiVir Personal Edition
avast! Free Home Edition
AVG Free Edition

To avoid potential conflicts only install one [third party] antivirus client.

Install Web Browser

Windows of course comes with its own web browser – Internet Explorer. Because of its popularity it is the centre of attention for all people who wish to do you harm. It has many security leaks that are being continuously exploited. There are a few choices for an alternate browser. Firefox, which grows in popularity every day and OPERA which, in my humble opinion, is still the best and safest browser to use.

FREE Web Browsers

Install Instant Messenger Programme

If you like to communicate via an IM program like AIM, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger or MSN Messenger, then you have a plenty of choices. You can install each of the programmes separately or just install Pidgin.

Pidgin is a multi-protocol instant messaging (IM) client for Linux, BSD, MacOS X, and Windows. It is compatible with AIM and ICQ (Oscar protocol), MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, IRC, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu, SILC, Novell GroupWise Messenger, Lotus Sametime, and Zephyr networks.

Pidgin users can log in to multiple accounts on multiple IM networks simultaneously. This means that you can be chatting with friends on AOL Instant Messenger, talking to a friend on Yahoo Messenger, and sitting in an IRC channel all at the same time.

Pidgin supports many features of the various networks, such as file transfer, away messages, and typing notification. It also goes beyond that and provides many unique features. A few popular features are Buddy Pounces, which give the ability to notify you, send a message, play a sound, or run a program when a specific buddy goes away, signs online, or returns from idle; and plugins, consisting of text replacement, a buddy ticker, extended message notification, iconify on away, spell checking, tabbed conversations, and more.

Pidgin is free and contains no ads.


Backup Your System

Those with Windows7 should make use of the system image backup option. A system image is an exact copy of a drive. By default, a system image includes the drives required for Windows to run. It also includes Windows and your system settings, programs, and files. Windows system images are able to be restored to a machine with a different motherboard which may have a different disk controller, but the machine must have the same number of disks.

Only the Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions can backup to a network location.

How to Create a System Image in Windows 7

How to create and use a System Repair Disc

How to Do a System Image Recovery in Windows 7

Acronis True Image : Complete file and system disk imaging backup and restore software for home and home office users that can protect your entire system and family pictures, videos, music, and important documents stored on your home PC. Acronis True Image Home provides you with two backup options in one software:

1) The disk imaging backup option enables you to create an image of your entire hard disk drive, including the operating system, applications, user settings, and all data. Use the image to restore your PC to a known working state without any reinstallation.

2) A new file-based backup option which enables you to backup and restore individual files and folders, like your My Documents folder or a specific file, like your latest tax return. A software wizard walks you through all of the steps.

3) Acronis True Image Home Plus Pack 3– Although this is an Optional module it is a must. It includes the flexibility to restore files, applications and an operating system [OS] to dissimilar hardware. I use and recommend this software and it paid for itself when the controllers on my new SSD hard drive failed. I cloned my OS to a mechanical back up drive which I used while my SSD went back for warranty repairs. When it came back I just cloned the OS back to my SSD.

Update your software

Now that you have some level of protection in place, it is time to update your programmes. DO NOT ASSUME that because you have just downloaded these programmes they are up to date.
Regular updating of your software is critical.

Software Inspector

The Secunia Personal Software Inspector is a security tool designed to detect vulnerable and out-dated programs and plug-ins which expose your PC to attacks. Attacks exploiting vulnerable programs and plug-ins are rarely blocked by traditional anti-virus and are therefore increasingly popular among criminals.

Secunia Personal Software Inspector
Install other programmes

Install Office Suite

An office suite usually consists of a word processor, spreadsheet, etc. The most popular suite is Microsoft Office, but it costs several hundred dollars. If you have a copy of it, go ahead and install it now. Otherwise, you can install OpenOffice which is completely free and does about 95% of what MS Office can do. You can import/export files in Microsoft formats with Open Office.

Open Office

Multimedia Installation

To play your music, edit your photos and watch videos on your PC you will need several additions. There are many options available to you, and personal choice will play a big part in your selection. Here are a few suggestions :

iTunes – Music Player
IrfanView – Image viewer/editor
VLC Media Player

Email Notifier

Pop Peeper allows you to preview your mail before downloading it.
Previews your mail in [safe] text format
Use Pop Peeper to easily delete spam
Leaves your mail on the server until you are ready to download

Pop Peeper - Free Email Retrieval and Notification Programme

Install Plug Ins

What is a Plug In? A hardware or software module that adds a specific feature or service to a larger system. When surfing the internet, to be able to make the most of your experience, you will also need some additional software. These "plug ins" will make that possible.

Java Runtime Environment
What is Java Software? Java software allows you to run applications called "applets" that are written in the Java programming language. These applets allow you to play online games, chat with people around the world, calculate your mortgage interest, and view images in 3D. Corporations also use applets for intranet applications and e-business solutions.
Download Java Runtime Environment

What is Flash Player? Adobe Flash Player is software created by Adobe that lets you view interactive content and applications on the web. Flash content can be found across the web, and Flash Player is installed on 98% percent of the world's desktop computers. Flash is the standard for interactive graphics and animation.
Download Flash Player

PDF Reader
What is a PDF Reader? PDF [Portable Document Format] is a format that allows you to read electronic documents, either on or off line. This format provides a page-by-page view of documents, exactly as they appear in their printed form, as well as allowing keyword search. PDF makes it possible to send formatted documents and have them appear on the recipient's monitor or printer as they were intended.
Download Nitro PDF Reader

Back up your new system

This is the time for your first backup. You have multiple back up options.
Back up to an external device [DVD or external hard drive].
If your computer is stolen or damaged beyond repair, you still everything on your external drive.
This is your foundation for any future mishaps.
If you skip this step then this exercise has been futile. If you are fortunate enough to have 2 hard drives, you can back up to the slave drive. I do this once a month, usually two weeks after the monthly Microsoft updates.
I use both of the methods just mentioned.
Why? Because I'm paranoid! [Paranoid – personality disorder is characterised by a distrust of others and a constant suspicion that people around you have sinister motives]
And, I was also burgled a few years ago, and lost everything – not a back up anywhere. You may also split your hard drive and use that as your back up.


Now that your system is set up, you will need to do regular maintenance to keep it in performing well.
Windows will allow the system to automatically download updates for you.
If you turn on this feature, your PC will check for, download and install critical updates over night.
This eliminates the need for you to periodically check for updates.

Go to the Windows Update website for a full guide on how to do this.

All your other software will have the same ability to download updates automatically. Or else just let The Secunia Personal Software Inspector take care of it for you.


Once you have set up your computer, installed and updated all your software, it is time for your initial backup. As mentioned above I strongly suggest you do this backup to a DVD, and keep it as your MASTER backup. So far you have not been exposed to the more dangerous elements of the Internet, so this backup should be clean and untainted.

The Dangers Of Backing Up

The idea of backing up your software is to always be able to have a copy that is functioning correctly – and be free of any Malware. Your original MASTER backup will be, but what of all future backups. Unless you are diligent you may download a piece of Malware, then back it up. If you need to restore your system, this Malware will also be restored.

Be carefull out there!!!

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