Getting along with your new computer

Did you get a new computer for Christmas? Setup can be fun, or it can be a migraine-inducing experience, depending on how you approach it. I’ve set up a lot of computers for my customers, so it’s pretty routine for me. If you decide to do it yourself, here are a few things I’ve leaned that will keep you from rushing out to buy more Aleve.

Have your passwords handy

It’s going to take a long time to get your email working if you don’t know your email address and your email 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.

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!

Pay attention to your antivirus program settings

When I set up a new computer for a customer the first thing I do check the antivirus software. Often I remove the bloated trial version of something and replace it with a sleek, free alternative like Microsoft Security Essentials (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-CA/windows/products/security-essentials) or Avast! Free (http://www.avast.com/free-antivirus-download). But no matter which antivirus program you use, make sure you’ve configured it in a way that makes sense for you.

Real time protection should be turned on so that you are protected whenever your computer is on. You should also make sure the program is set to run a complete scan daily. Microsoft Security Essentials is a great program, but by default it will run a Quick Scan at 2:00 in the morning on Sunday. That’s just not good enough!  Your computer has to be on for the scan to run, but new computers are usually powerful enough that you can continue working during the scan.

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, extra browsers, 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’s 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.

Connecting a printer/scanner/copier is not the same as connecting a printer

Windows 7 is really smart about printers. If you have one that is compatible with Windows 7, follow the directions to install the ink and the paper, plug the printer in, connect it to the computer, and turn it on. Windows 7 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 7 will recognize the printer function, but not the scanner or anything else. Install the software, and don’t even think about connecting the device until you’re prompted to do so!  And choose the “custom” install!

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 (http://computercarekelowna.com/) 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

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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