The computer elections are completed. Many computer parties, Dell, Toshiba, HP, Apple, all campaigned for your vote. In the end you picked the perfect combination of gigabytes and gigahertz to meet your needs at that holiday or post-holiday sale. Now you are opening the box of your computer-elect, what should you do? Have a computer inauguration!
If you could find an outlet, you could do these five inaugural steps on the west steps of the US Capitol, but your living room will work just fine:
1- Make Restoration Disks: In the old days when dinosaurs ruled the earth, computers came with disks that could be used to restore your computer if the hard disk ever died. Now they usually just come with utilities for creating these disks. Make the disks and keep them in a safe place that you will be able to find later.
2- Remove the Fluff: Computers these days come with about 50 free 30-day trials, half of which are already installed and running on your computer, slowing it down and clogging your desktop. For Windows computers, click on Start > Control Panel > Programs and Features (Vista) or Add or Remove Programs (XP) and start uninstalling programs you don’t need. If you don’t know what a particular program is for, it is better to leave it. It might be important.
3- Add Security: You don’t need to pay for good virus protection. Download the home version of Avast from avast.com for free. Make sure windows update is enabled and have it update your operating system. If you have a home wireless network, make sure it requires a password to connect to it so your computer won’t get hacked.
4- Add Your Old Files: If you shop around, you can find an external USB hard drive for less than 20 cents a Gig. This is easier than loading up your USB stick fifty times and you can use it for doing backups later. Alternatively, you can just copy the files over your home network into a shared directory. Virus check your old computer before copying files. Don’t copy program directories, these need to be reinstalled. Besides your document directories, make sure you grab your Favorites links, and email files/rules. These can be buried deep in application data directories. Don’t delete your old files until you are sure they made it to your new hard drive. Also, before you sell that old computer on eBay or give it to charity, remember that data lives on forever, even after the files have been deleted or drives have been reformatted. You can use special software to sanitize your hard drive, or do like me, remove the hard drive and keep it.
5- Install Monitoring Software: If you have kids, installing monitoring software will help protect them from the dangers of the Internet. If you’re married, it will eliminate the temptation for cyber betrayal. If you live by your lonesome, it will help you remember passwords and the cool websites that you visit.
Now your computer is ready to take office, or at least sit in your home office, even if it isn’t oval.