No computer is perfect straight off the shelf, and there are a number of steps you’ll need to take to prepare it for everyday use. Unfortunately, new computers tend to come with a whole raft of annoyances such as unwanted preinstalled software and outdated drivers. The following tips primarily apply to the latest edition of Windows 8, Windows 8.1, which is now shipping on almost all new Windows PCs.
1 – Get Rid of Bloatware
Once you have completed the setup process on your new Windows 8 PC, you’ll likely notice that there are plenty of unwanted programs slowing down your computer and clogging up the system tray. Such programs are collectively known as bloatware. Bloatware may include trial versions of programs and a whole raft of other software which vendors get paid by developers to preinstall on new machines. Many of these tiresome programs are configured by default to launch on system start-up, often greatly increasing the amount of time it takes for your computer to reach a functioning desktop.
Many vendors are even cheeky enough to charge their customers an additional fee to remove this bloatware before you take your computer home. Fortunately, it should be quite quick and easy to uninstall bloatware yourself without spending anything. Either you can manually uninstall unwanted programs and features through the Add/Remove Programs section of the Control Panel, or you can use a free third-party utility such as the aptly named PC Decrapifier.
2 – Update Windows
Windows Update should be enabled by default, so you’ll likely get a warning that updates are ready to download and install within minutes of connecting to the Internet for the first time. New computers will probably still have been on the shelves for some weeks or months, so your operating system will inevitably be somewhat out-of-date. In some cases, there will be a huge number of updates which may take a while to download. However, do not postpone updates, and get into the habit of installing them as soon as they become available. Windows should download and install updates automatically, but it is wise to run Windows Update anyway as soon as you start up a new PC for the first time. Additionally, once the first round of updates have been installed, you’ll likely have to run Windows Update again to download and install the next set of updates. You may need to run it as many as three times to make certain that you have all of the updates installed.
3 – Update Your Drivers
As with Windows itself, some of your hardware drivers may also be out-of-date. Graphics card manufacturers in particular frequently release new drivers to help boost performance, improve compatibility with newer games and get rid of bugs. While Windows Update sometimes provides driver updates as well, it is a good idea to manually update things like your graphics card drivers. You can find the latest and most suitable drivers from amd.com or nvidia.com depending on whether you have an AMD or nVidia graphics card. You can also try a third-party driver updater utility which will search through your computer’s hardware inventory and download and install any available driver updates.
4 – Install Your Favorite Programs
Perhaps the most time-consuming thing of all when preparing a new computer is installing all of your favorite programs, and this is particularly the case if you have an extensive collection of video games and other large applications which either need to be re-downloaded or installed from CDs and DVDs. One free service which can save you a huge amount of time when it comes to installing small everyday applications is Ninite. Simply visit ninite.com and select all of your favorite applications from the list and click “Get Installer”. When you run the installer, Ninite will automatically download and install all of the software you selected without requiring any further user interaction. Even better, it avoids installing any of the extra junk software which often comes with free programs, and it will automatically install 64-bit versions (when available) on 64-bit systems.
5 – Restore Your Documents
While it is also fairly straightforward to transfer your documents and other personal files manually from your old computer to the new one, Windows 8 makes the process even easier thanks to the Windows Easy Transfer feature. Windows Easy Transfer allows you to transfer user accounts, documents, emails, music, pictures and videos from any other computer running Windows 7, RT or 8. All you need is a USB flash drive or some blank DVDs, and you will be able to copy everything over from one computer to the other using the Windows Easy Transfer wizard. To start with, create the backup on your old computer, and then launch Windows Easy Transfer from the Windows 8 Start screen on your new computer. Simply follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process.
6 – Customize and Optimize Your Desktop
Assuming you are running Windows 8.1 on a desktop or laptop computer, the latest edition of the operating system provides some useful features for keyboard and mouse users, though they are not enabled by default. You can make the Start screen and desktop work more seamlessly together by altering the settings in the Navigation tab of the Taskbar and Navigation properties window. To open it, go to the desktop, right-click on the taskbar and click “Properties”. Personalizing the desktop is almost identical to how it was with Windows Vista and Windows 7. To customize the new elements of the Windows interface, such as the Start screen and the lock screen, go to the Start screen control panel. The control panel is accessible by moving the mouse pointer to the right and clicking “Settings” followed by “Change PC settings” at the bottom. You will find all of the customization options under the “PC and devices” section. Additionally, if you are using Windows Easy Transfer to transfer user accounts from another computer running Windows 8 or 8.1, most of your personalization settings will be transferred to the new computer as well.