The First 6 Things You Should Do with Your New Laptop – Technology Org
Gosh, doesn’t your brand new laptop look beautiful? So sleek, so elegant, so full of potential. We won’t judge if you want to take a little time just to admire it!
Presumably, though, you didn’t buy it as a paperweight — so eventually, you’ll want to turn it on and use it. Before you do that, taking care of a few housekeeping tasks will help make sure that your new computer is secure, well-equipped, and ready to perform. Check out these six must-do items for all new laptop owners.
- Update your operating system and hardware drivers.
Many new computers will automatically update to the latest version of your operating system when you first boot them up. However, this can depend on the computer model and OS, so you’ll want to double-check, since an out-of-date OS can create security vulnerabilities and performance issues.
You’ll also want to ensure you have the latest hardware drivers for parts like motherboard chipsets, graphics cards (if you have a workstation or gaming laptop), and even printers. (This is more important for PCs, but Mac owners may still need to do it for peripherals.) To avoid having to do this again later, make sure your PC or Mac is set to automatically check for and download software and driver updates.
- Clear out bloatware applications.
Most new PC laptops come preloaded with a bunch of applications that many people simply don’t find useful. These apps are commonly known as bloatware, and they love to send you notifications you don’t care about, automatically add their shortcuts to your desktop, and take up storage space. (Generally, this is less of a problem for Macs, although some users may want to remove large apps like GarageBand if they don’t use them.)
Fortunately, getting rid of these applications is usually as simple as uninstalling them. Go to Add or Remove Programs and then simply select the programs you’d like to get rid of. Note that you’ll want to do a little research before you start uninstalling to make sure you don’t remove any system-critical applications. (Should I Remove It? is a great online resource for figuring out what you actually need and what’s bloatware.)
- Decide which (if any) programs you want to automatically run on startup.
The auto-run function automatically opens certain applications every time you boot up your computer. You can see how this might be useful for some programs, but others (particularly on PC) will just take up resources without doing anything useful.
Fortunately, auto-run settings are easy to change. In Windows Task Manager, you’ll use the Startup tab, where you’ll see every application that’s set to auto-run. Simply click on anything you don’t want to auto-run and then choose the Disable button. Mac users can go through System Settings > General and then use the Login Items list to add or remove programs from the auto-run list.
- Perform a security checkup.
Now is the perfect time to ensure your laptop is equipped to keep your personal information safe and secure. Both Windows and macOS include solid basic anti-malware suites sufficient for many users, although Windows users sometimes choose to add external security applications for more protection.
Here’s a basic checklist that will get your computer in good security shape:
- Create strong, unique passwords for user accounts (especially administrator accounts)
- Set up a password manager like 1Password, Bitwarden, or Dashlane
- Decide whether you want to use an additional anti-malware tool
- Set up biometric security features such as facial and/or fingerprint recognition
- Consider additional protective measures such as using a VPN
- Turn on two-factor authentication for any accounts that don’t already have it
- Download your most-used applications.
It’s finally time to get your laptop set up with the basic apps you’ll be using every day. Obviously, everyone’s essentials will look different, but some of the most common must-haves are:
- Web Browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera)
- Productivity (Microsoft 365, LibreOffice)
- Communication (Zoom, Discord, Slack, WhatsApp, Skype)
- Media (Spotify, iTunes, VLC)
- Gaming Platforms (Steam, Origin, GOG Galaxy, Epic Games Launcher)
- Creative Tools (Adobe Suite, Corel Draw, Da Vinci Resolve, Ableton)
If you’d like to save a little time, you can use a package manager like Ninite (for PC) or Macapps (for macOS) to download and install all of your free applications at once. These will also make sure you have the latest versions of the apps installed.
- Move essential files to your newcomputer.
Got some files that you’d like to keep locally on your new machine? There are plenty of ways to get them safely transferred. The old-school method is to manually copy them onto a USB flash drive or external hard drive and then move them to your computer. This still gets the job done in most cases, although you might struggle if you’re moving files between a PC and a Mac, since your storage media may use an incompatible file format.
Instead, most people use cloud services like Google Drive and Dropbox as a stop-along for file transfers. Upload your key files into one of these free cloud services and then access and download them on your new machine. Some more good news: In most cases, you won’t need to transfer your emails or calendar. These are stored within the cloud-based clients they use, so you should be able to access them from your new machine by logging into your Google account (or whatever service you’re using).
Congratulations! You’ve got your laptop up and running, and you’re ready to use it for work, gaming, personal projects, or whatever you fancy. Keep it current with regular updates, remember to follow data security best practices, and your new machine will enjoy a long and happy life with you.