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Getting Along With Your Computer

Four tips for a new computer

Are you setting up a new computer? I do that all the time, so I have a routine for setting up the new machine and transferring files from the old. If you decide to do this yourself, here are four tips that should keep you from running for the Aleve.


You can save a lot of time by having your passwords handy

Please know your email address and password. Trust me. You DO have an email password. If you think you don’t, it’s probably because someone set up your email on your old computer and told it to remember your password. That’s worked out well for you … until now. You’re going to need that password. If you don’t know it, call your email provider and have them reset it.

That is also true for your wireless network. When you (or someone) set up that network, your old computer needed the password to connect to the network. It still does, but again, someone told the computer to remember it and it did. You have to know what it is to tell your new computer to remember it! If your wireless router is from Telus or Shaw, the information is on a sticker on the router.

Files and programs are not the same thing

Files are things like documents, music, pictures, email messages, address books, internet Favorites/Bookmarks. Programs are the software that create and handle those files. Word is a program. It lets you read and create documents.

Files can be transferred from one computer to another. Programs need to be installed, not transferred. You need a version of your program that is compatible with the version of Windows on the new computer.

Do not take for granted that the program you need “comes with” the computer. It could turn out that way, but you need to check, especially if you are moving from Windows XP to a modern version of Windows like Windows 8/Windows 7.

Connecting a printer/scanner/copier is not like connecting a printer

Windows 7 and Windows 8 are really smart about printers. If you have one that is compatible with Windows 7/8, follow the directions to install the ink and the paper, plug the printer in, connect it to the computer, and turn it on. Windows will recognize it, install the drivers, and you’re good to go in under two minutes. It will print.

If, on the other hand, you are connecting a multifunction device --- one machine that prints, copies, scans and maybe faxes too --- you have to install the software first. If you don’t, Windows will (probably…) recognize the printer function, but not the scanner or anything else. Make sure the software is up to date. See the third item here: Install the software, and don’t even think about connecting the device until you’re prompted to do so! And choose the “custom” install!

Always do a “custom install.” Always. Really. I mean it.

I visit a lot of customers who have “mystery” programs and toolbars on the computer, but no idea how they got there. “Ask” toolbars, “Yahoo!” toolbars, Google Chrome, photo software that opens every time you insert any kind of flash drive or memory card, confusing desktop icons --- that’s just the beginning.

I can totally clean that out for you, but there’s a simple way to avoid getting all that junk in there in the first place: When you install a program, always choose “custom” --- never “full” or “typical.” That’s where the crapware comes from.

Choosing “custom” gives you the chance to decline toolbars, McAfee security scans, Google Chrome, Apple Quicktime, Adobe Air, and anything else you do not want or need. It’s easy to fall into a trance when installing software and just keep clicking on “OK” but it is way smarter to pay attention to what you’re clicking on and clear some check boxes first. That keeps the unwanted programs and add-ons out, and makes your life easier.


Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna ( a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

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About the author...

Cate Eales has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible and fun for over 20 years. She lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric, and her dog, Sandy. Cate is a partner in Computer Care Kelowna, helping individuals and small businesses with virus, spyware and malware eradication; personal computer training and management; digital image management; music transfer; and website design, hosting and management.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with your comments, suggestions, or questions. To browse the column archives, visit the Real Life Internet Solutions website at


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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