Whether you are a computer expert or just a regular user, there is nothing better than that first time you unbox a brand new laptop. Let’s face it, today we are all tied to our devices, from smartphones to laptops and even desktop computers. In this modern world, we live in die with technology in our hands. This is why opening a brand new laptop is so much fun. On top of that, when most of us buy a new laptop, our old ones have finally stopped working or just become too slow, and there is nothing better than using a fresh laptop that is new, clean and, of course, very fast.
Just because you bring home a brand new laptop for one of our amazing laptop buying guides doesn’t mean that it will be ready to get to work right then and there. Just like anything else, you are going to want to spend some time properly setting everything up and configuring it for your needs. If you don’t, you will probably find yourself having to stop and load software or get rid of something annoying when you are already busy trying to take care of something else.
Today, we will take a look at 9 things you should do first after buying a new laptop so you can properly configure it and prepare it to be used by you day in and day out for both work and play.
1. Check Your Box
While it is rare, sometimes things get left out of your box. This could be something simple like the warranty information or something a little more important such as part of your power cable. Check the contents of your box carefully to be sure everything is there. If something is missing, pack it all up and return it for a new one or, at the very least, get the company to send you the parts you need that were accidentally left out of the box.
2. File Away Any Paperwork
When you buy a new laptop, often there will be warranty information, registration cards and more included in the box. While many people just toss this out, they can provide much needed information in the event that you run into a problem. Take all this information and place it in a file folder and tuck it away with all of your other important documents. It’s also a good idea to include your receipt in that file as well. If something does happen down the road, you will want to be able to prove when you purchased the laptop especially if you are dealing with a problem that should be fixed under warranty.
3. Connect Your Laptop
Once you have determined that you have everything, it is time to set it up. If you have a workstation in your area, go ahead and run the power cables properly at your desk and run any USB cables that you need like the ones connected to a printer. While you don’t have to plug them in just yet, it is a good idea to go ahead and have everything ready to plug in before you start the rest of the process. While you don’t have to, I have found that in the long run it just easier if you have everything organized and properly prepared before you start the configuration process.
4. Set Your Account
Now the fun begins. Turn on your computer and watch it boot up for the first time. Chances are you will be prompted to create a user account for the computer that you will use to log on. Go ahead and create this account now. Be sure you use a password that you will remember so you don’t forget how to log onto your computer later. During this process you should also take a few moments to connect it to your wireless network or at least hook it up with your trusty Ethernet cable so you have Internet access.
5. Remove Any Bloatware
Many laptops come with software already preloaded onto the computer. Sometimes this software will be useful to you and you want to keep it. However, in most cases the software that is included is what we call bloatware. This software usually comes in the form of software demos or silly games that you won’t find useful at all. In other cases you will find software that exists on your new machine for the sole purpose of trying to sell you something down the road. Bloatware is annoying, often useless, and takes up valuable resources on your computer. Pay a visit to your programs control panel and get rid of anything you don’t need.
6. Run All Windows Updates
It never ceases to amaze me how many people will ignore Windows updates. Microsoft releases these updates for a reason and, while sometimes they do screw up, most of the time these updates are designed to fix problems that have been found with Windows or they patch security vulnerabilities that have been identified. These security holes could allow attackers to take control of your computer without you knowing it. Once they have control of your system, they could steal your information or use your computer for other nefarious purposes.
While Windows 10 makes it quite difficult to ignore updates, you still need to make sure you run them when you get a new computer. In fact, this is one of the first things you should do before you take your computer online to look for other software and updates. Once you have run the updates, go ahead and set your updates to run automatically if you are using Windows 7 or Windows 8. Having your machine setup this way will keep you from having to deal with it on a daily basis while also ensuring that your computer has the latest updates that fix many different issues with your PC and protect you from security threats.
7. Install Antivirus / Firewall Software
While this holds true for any computer, it is especially important if you are running Windows of any version. Windows 8 and Windows 10 both run Microsoft’s own antivirus software and it comes installed. But there are many others out there that run much better and provide much more protection. Before you spend any time on the Internet, you need to make sure you have installed antivirus software and run all of its updates. Never connect to the Internet without it as viruses and malware can be lurking just about anywhere, including seemingly legit sites. Once your antivirus software has completed its installation and updates, go ahead and give your machine a good reboot before you continue with your configuration.
Anti-Virus (choose ONE only)
Firewalls (optional for extra security – choose ONE only)
There are many choices out there when it comes to good antivirus software. While you could go with a paid option, the above are all trusted free antivirus and firewalls. While each one offers their own unique take on protection and features, they will all take care of your security needs at home with relative ease.
8. Install Software
Now that your laptop is up to date and protected, it is time to install all the software that you will need in order to work. Now, there isn’t a set list of software that you must have to use your computer as every user’s needs are different. That being said, there are a few pieces of software that you will want to install that I believe will help you be more productive and make sure you can open almost anything that you might come across.
Some of the software that I recommend are:
- Other Internet browsers such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox
- Office Suite such as Microsoft Office
- Anti-Malware software such as Malwarebytes
- Adobe Reader
- Adobe Flash
- Any other software you need and use
This is by no means a complete list of applications you may need. But if you go through these and run the installs in the beginning, it can be much easier and save you a ton of headaches down the road.
Of course, don’t just go and install every piece of software you see. Too much and you can overload your computer and you increase your chances of downloading and installing junk onto your computer. Always remember to pull software from reputable sources and read all the reviews carefully before you download it.
9. Copy Your Files
Now that you have your computer updated and all the software that you need installed and ready to go, it is time to copy your files that you need onto your new computer. The question becomes exactly how do you move all your files over from that old laptop? There are several ways you can do this.
First, you could sign up for one of the many cloud storage options from Dropbox or Google Drive and move all your files there. In this setup, you really can just store everything on the cloud so you never have to worry about backing up your data ever again. But, if you prefer to have your files locally so you don’t necessarily need an Internet connection, you can still use these services to move your files from one machine to another. The downside to this method is it takes time to copy them to and from the Internet and your file storage space is limited unless you sign up for a premium account. Still, if you like having all your files accessible from multiple machines, this is the way to go.
If cloud storage isn’t your forte, then perhaps you could try using an external hard drive or a USB flash drive to move your files. In this scenario, you connect the drive to your old laptop and copy all your personal files to it. You then disconnect it from your old laptop, connect it to your shiny new laptop and then copy the files to it. The benefits of this method is that it is by far the easiest but it does require the investment in additional equipment. The external hard drive is the most expensive method but will get you the most storage, and it makes a great backup tool to use with your new laptop once you have moved your files. USB flash storage is much cheaper, but you can’t store as much stuff on it meaning you may have to make more than trip back and forth with the thumb drive to get all your files.
Getting a new laptop is always fun and exciting. In fact, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy getting a new laptop. If you find someone who hates new laptops, let me know! While you may be tempted to toss your old laptop aside and start using your new one, take a deep breath. Remember, good things come to those who wait. Just taking an hour or two to properly setup your new laptop and get it ready to be used is completely worth it. While I know having to wait is tough in this world of instant gratification in which we live, but sometimes you just have to wait if you want to make sure something is properly taken care of and ready to use, and your laptop is one of them. With just a little bit of work ahead of time, you can prepare your laptop to become the ultimate computer for you going forward, at least until you are ready for your next upgrade.
Is there anything on this list that you think I missed? If you can think of anything else that new laptop owners should do before starting to use their shiny new computer let me know in the comments below. If I agree, we may have to change the title of this article to 10 things you should do or even 11 or 12! Don’t be shy. The idea is to create a list of things people should do so that can make sure their new laptop is ready to go out to the Internet and be used on a daily basis. So chime in and let me know what you think!
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.