Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Rundown

Often people ask me what they should do with a new computer.  I usually respond that if they didn't know why they bought it for they might as well just give it to me. :) 
Just kidding.  My laptop's probably better than yours anyway. :P

But seriously I do have a set procedure for whenever I get a new computer playground to play in.  So here goes:

  1. (Optional Step) Whenever possible I like to wipe the computer clean and install a fresh operating system.  Do do that all willy-nilly though.  You should back up the drivers beforehand.  I use Driver Magician Lite.  It's the free version of the software.  It'll back up your drivers but it won't restore.  I do that manually anyway through the device settings.  Why go through all the trouble?  For me, it's the easiest way to clear up all the pre-installed software I don't need and will probably never use.  If there is something I want to keep, I take note of it and go to the support website for the computer and download it there.
  2. Uninstall whatever Antivirus came with the computer.  If you did step one then this isn't a concern.  Again you ask why?  For starters the Antivirus that came with your computer is a trial.  You'll only be able to use it for a few months before it starts asking you to buy it or activate it.  Most users pay these warnings no mind and happily go about their business not realizing that the software has stopped protecting them.  If you stay on to of paying for your Antivirus you can keep it.  Most people don't.  I use Avast Free.  The paid versions have more features but I'm fine with virus and malware protection.  Avast requires yearly registration though (still free) and I found that too many users would pay the warnings no mind.  Fortunately Avast doesn't stop working but it does stop upgrading and that's still pretty bad.  That's why I've switched to giving users Avira.  I think it's actually better at malware detection than Avast and it doesn't ask you to register every year.  All for a nag screen every time it updates.  Small price to pay for the protection it provides I say.
  3. I like to give people options so I also install an alternative browser.  I prefer Firefox but I'll give you Chrome too.  There's also a few plugins that I save you trouble of worrying about.  Adobe Flash and Reader immediately springs to mind.  Since I mentioned Reader, I also tend to install something that allows you to create your own PDF files.  My favorite is DoroPDF.
  4. There are people who swear by the built-in Windows burning features.  I'm not one of them.  That's why I also install CDBurnerXP.
  5. Almost everyone has an Apple product of some kind be it and iPod or an iPad so I save them the trouble of installing iTunes.  While I'm at it I install it's companion Quicktime.  If you want Safari though you're on your own but chances are you'll eventually have it as an option in your updates.  That doesn't mean I endorse iTunes as a media manager though.  Personally I prefer MediaMonkey.
  6. Productivity comes next.  If you have Microsoft Office I'll install it for you.  Most people don't because Office isn't cheap.  That's when I turn them on to OpenOffice.  It does a lot of the things Office can do and can even open and edit Office files.  One thing it doesn't include though is an email client like Outlook.  While Windows does have an integrated email client that mirrors the old Outlook Express you might want something a bit more robust.  Look no further than Thunderbird.
  7. I have to admit that Windows Image Viewer has come a long way, but I'm old fashioned.  I like having the ability to do things with pics besides just look at them.  My go to program for years has been IrfanView.
  8. My final install is a relatively new one on my list.  Chances are someone is going to call me up with a problem and will want to bring it back to me for a relatively small thing.  That's when I go "I wish I could just log in to your computer from here and do it cause it'd only take me a sec".  Well now I can.  I install TeamViewer which allows me (with the owner's permission that is) to log into computer securely via the Internet.
  9. From here on out it depends on the needs of the person the computer is for.  There are tons of software out there for doing a variety of things.  You just need to know what it is you want to do.

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