A new computer is like a blank state--there's a lot of potential there, but without some work on your part, it's useless. It's not hard to get started, but there are some essential first steps that everyone should follow when breaking in their new PC. In this guide, we've compiled a step-by-step list of essential tips, tricks and advice from many of our other features, to provide you with just the information you need to get off to a great start with any new PC. So if you got a new rig under the PC under the tree this year, or even if you're just thinking about getting one in the future, read on to find out more!
1. Make a vLite Install Disc
If your new PC is a premade system, and not one that you built yourself, it’s likely that your operating system came with a few little “bonus” features, like toolbars and other crapware. You can take the time to decrapify your PC if you want, but you’re assured better results by simply reinstalling Windows.
And while you’re reinstalling, you should check out vLite, a tool for making a custom, slimmed down Windows 7 (or Vista) install disc with all the features (and only the features) that you want. You can also include drivers and hotfixes on the disc, which will be automatically installed with Windows, saving you time later. Because of this, even if you don’t need to reinstall Windows right now, it’s a good idea to make a vLite install disc for the next time you need to reinstall.
Making a vLite disc is a pretty easy process, but you’ll need to have your Windows 7 disc handy. To learn more, check out our Vista vLite guide (the steps are basically the same for Windows 7).
2. Properly Set up a Connections to Your Network and Servers
No PC is an island—your system best flourishes when it’s connected to the internet and other locally networked PCs. So one of the first things you’ll want to do is ensure that you’re properly set up with you local network. That means more than just plugging an Ethernet cable from the back of your tower to the router.
First, you’ll want to configure your PC’s Workgroup domain so that other systems on your network can detect it. If you’re using Windows 7, you’ll need to determine whether you’re on a Home, Work, or Public network. This will allow you to tweak your file, folder and printer sharing options so your PC will play nice with others. You’ll also need to adjust the file-sharing encryption setting to 128-bit to secure your local connections. Additionally, Windows 7 PCs should have HomeGroups synced up for increased protection and streamlined setup. Refer to our Windows 7 Networking guide for more details.
Next, you should consider switching over to OpenDNS to improve the responsiveness of your internet connection. We have a step-by-step guide for how to do that here.
If you’re planning doing a lot of PC gaming and P2P file-sharing on your PC, you’ll need to configure port forwarding for those apps. Refer to http://portforward.com/ for detailed guides to forwarding ports for any router make and model.
Finally, link up your PC with any NAS boxes or Window Home Servers on your local network. Use these servers to store or back up your media database.