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What should I do first with my new computer?

With the holiday season upon us, many will be getting new computers for
Christmas. I think it would be wise to make a copy of the way the computer came
right away and then I would like to get rid of the bloatware (I think that’s
what it’s called) to maximize the speed of the new computer. How should I go
about doing these things and is there anything else that you would suggest?

In this excerpt from
Answercast #78
, I look at some steps to take with a new computer to get a
backup image that helps you easily restore your machine.

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First steps with a new computer

Absolutely, it’s a very timely suggestion.

What I strongly recommend anybody who gets a new computer should do (and this is anytime of year be it Christmas or otherwise) is to – very first thing – make an image, a backup image of the computer as it showed up.

In other words, without changing a thing, do the bare minimum to set that machine up if that’s required – and then immediately install something like Macrium Reflect and create a full backup image to an external hard drive. Save that image.

Image backup for recovery

That is your recovery disk. That is your set up disk. That is a replacement for not having installation media.

If anything ever happens to that machine, you can then use that image to restore it to the state it was in on the day you got it. So, absolutely, create a backup image of the entire machine; a single backup image of all the partitions on the hard drive (or hard drives if there’s more than one.) Make sure everything is captured without you having changed a thing.

Get rid of “bloatware”

Now, after that, getting rid of bloatware?

In reality, what I would do first before you get rid of the bloatware is: get the machine up to date. It doesn’t matter when you buy it, how new the machine was, there are almost guaranteed to be updates that will happen between the time the machine was made and the time you start setting it up.

So take all of the updates that you can. Get the machine completely up to date.

I’d probably be tempted to take another image backup at that point – because that, actually, is the image backup that you’ll probably use when or if the time ever comes that you need to start over: because it will already have all of those updates. You’ll only need any of the updates that happened after that point.

So that’s something also worth considering.

Look over the software installed

At that point, I’d start spending an awful lot of time in the Control Panel’s programs and features. I would take a look at the list of software that’s installed and I would start uninstalling the bloatware.

I would start uninstalling the software that you don’t need, that you don’t want.

Now, if you’re not sure? Well, do a little bit of research online to see what the software is all about – but if you’re not sure, leave it there.

If your research discovers, or you already know, that “Yep, this particular piece of software. You know what, I don’t want it; I’m never going to use it; it’s just gonna take up space. For all I know it’s running things I don’t want to run” – Uninstall it. Grab Revo Uninstaller if it doesn’t uninstall completely to help clean things up further.

After you’re done uninstalling all these things, you know what?

Create a final backup image

I hate to say it… but I’d really make yet another image backup. This is another time where you can save the state of your machine in a condition that you like. In other words, it’s as up to date as possible; it’s gotten rid of all of the bloatware you don’t want – save that image right then and there. Because again, some years from now if you suddenly decide you need to restart from scratch – you don’t need to restart from the very beginning.

It may be that the problems that are causing you to consider a reinstall would be sufficiently solved by this image; an image that already has all of the updates to this point and all of the bloatware removed.

That’s the approach that I take to this particular kind of problem. I would absolutely be very liberal with taking backup images of the machine immediately after getting it. And I would spend some time getting the machine up to date and removing the bloatware through the uninstall process.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

End of Answercast 78 Back to – Audio Segment

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3 comments on “What should I do first with my new computer?”

  1. Good advice, although I think the chances of really screwing up your system by doing official upgrades is pretty small, so wasting a lot of time on a system image is probably being excessively cautious. The same goes for taking an image before removing bloatware. Really, it all depends on your risk tolerance or level of paranoia. But, I definitely would take one at some point – for me, after upgrading and removing the bloat and then again after I have my machine fully setup with all my files and programs. Oh, and you didn’t mention installing an antivirus program (I like MSE), which is something I would do very early on.

    And, speaking of removing bloatware, there are some excellent programs that will do it for you. TechRepublic did a nice roundup you can read at: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/five-apps/five-apps-for-crapware-cleanup/1256

    Reply
  2. I have gotten a few computers over the years. My Acer machine I got in 2008 or so (Vista, no service pack), I simply copied the invisible setup partition to a DVD – Acer has a tool to do that. Most computers that have no recovery media have an “invisible” recovery partition, and allow you to make recovery disks. I prefer to start over with the factory defaults, adding the service packs as I install. A clean install makes the computer run like new, as it is put back to the way it was when it came out of the box.

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