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Issue #544: December 24–30, 2017

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Merry Christmas my fellow Geeks and Geek wanna-bes!  I hope you and everyone in your little corner of the world find peace, love, and contentment as we celebrate this joyous season.  What’s that?  You say you’re getting a new computer for Christmas, and you want to start things off on the right foot?  Well then this is the column you’re looking for!  If your computer isn’t squeaky clean, brand-new and just out of the box, there’s still good information to be had here, so don’t stop reading yet.

For those of you setting up a brand new PC, Windows will run you through a brief set-up process that’s referred to as the “Out-of-Box Experience” also known as OOBE (pronounced OOH-bee).  You’ll be prompted to enter the credentials for your Microsoft account, or establish one if you don’t already have one.  If your system uses a wireless network interface card, you’ll probably be coached through getting it connected to your home’s Wi-Fi.  Have your security information handy.

For the rest of you, and if you have a new PC and the OOBE didn’t configure Windows updates, you’ll want to make sure your system has all the current updates installed.  Microsoft constantly issues security patches, bug fixes, and other various updates to the operating system.  Depending on how long your new PC waited at your retailer for you to come along and purchase it, there could be dozens, even hundreds of updates waiting to be installed.  The process could take a few minutes, or it could take hours, but it’s very important, so don’t skip this step.  To get started, open the Start menu and click “Settings” then “Update & security”.  In the middle of the screen is a little button that says “Check for updates”.  Click that, and your system will search and probably find updates.  Allow it to download and install them, and if necessary, reboot.  After a reboot, go back and check for more updates, and keep repeating this process until there are no updates left to install.

Now that your system is fully up to date, you should put some protection into place.  There are no options that are 100% effective in stopping threats, but they all stop a good percentage of them, so you should have something.  To have nothing at all is like not locking your door, because thieves can break in through windows (pun intended).  There’s no sense in making it easy.  Windows 10 will come shipped with Windows Defender, a fairly simple option that’s easy to use and maintain.  Personally, I don’t rely on it exclusively.  You should back it up with another security suite.  Choosing one is a topic on which I could do a whole series of columns, so discussion certainly won’t fit in a couple of sentences.  Do a few web searches, read a few articles that compare the top anti-malware suites and pick a good one that works for you.

Choose your favorite web browser.  With the explosion of social media, news sites, web-based e-mail, online banking, and so much more, many people find themselves spending more time in their system’s web browser than in any other software application.  For that reason alone, you should pick one you like and are comfortable using.  Windows comes configured to use the Edge browser, which some people love, and some people hate.  There is nothing stopping you from putting more than one browser on your system.  Some options include Google Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, all easily findable with a simple web search.  Try them out and choose, then uninstall the rest.

If you’re connecting peripherals such as printers, scanners, external drives, etc., now would be the time to load the drivers for them.  This is probably the most problematic step there is in setting up a new system, because often you’re moving from an older version of Windows, and older drivers might not be compatible with Win 10.  If that occurs, go to the device manufacturer’s website (not the Windows site) and search for drivers using the device’s model number, which is usually printed on a sticker on the bottom or back.  On their websites, manufactures often hide drivers under a link that says “Support” or something similar.

Finally, you can begin personalizing your PC to your liking.  There are numerous configuration options that you can access by right-clicking on the windows desktop and selecting “Personalize” from the context menu.  There are more options available by selecting “Display settings” from the same menu.  Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything you’re looking at.  Of course, also don’t fool around with settings you don’t understand.  And know that you’ll have plenty of time later to tweak the system to your heart’s content.  So enjoy your new PC!  Good luck, and happy computing!

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