Set-up 101

I’d thought I’d share my new-computer set-up routine – every lesson here has been learnt through pain.


So this morning I purchased a new windows PC, a small profile, quiet, multimedia jobbie for use in the family room. My plan is that my wife can use it to update her iPod, and the kids can play maths and spelling games on it. It can also be for family internet access, where we can watch over the shoulders of the kids. 


While setting it up, I went through the same process that I always do, except this time, I thought I’d write it down.


1. Unpack the boxes and check off everything is there. I then go back and go through the rubbish to make sure there isn’t some small but important piece that’s going to get accidentally chucked out (yes I learnt this one the hard way). I also store away the boxes for a month. Throwing away the boxes immediately is a mistake if you have to return the PC because of a fault, as they usually want the computer to come back in its original packaging. I can tell you for a fact that when you by a $10,000 rack mount server with next day service that’s faulty, you are really going to get pissed off when you have to wait for two weeks for new packaging to be shipped from Malaysia (thanks Dell!).


2. Assemble the computer, plugging in the monitor keyboard etc. Usually this involves common sense and ignoring some of the instructions when it becomes obvious that the instructions don’t match the exact equipment in front of me.


3. I then pickup all the spare bits into a box file (receipt, warranty, manuals, spare cables etc) and mark the box file with the name of the computer. Since I will probably buy more software for this computer later, I make sure the box file is big enough for disks and manuals to be added. When you only have one computer, computer management is easy; but when you have lots, I find it’s best to have one box per computer.


4. Start-up the computer and go through the configuration settings.


5. Set-up user accounts. It’s a really good idea to give yourself an account as a standard user, and only log into the administrator account when you need to. This stops you from doing something silly without thinking.


6. Load antivirus software. I usually don’t use the bundled antivirus software when at home. Instead I prefer the free antivirus software from I have been using this at home for years, without issue. However in office environments I prefer a licensed, centrally managed antivirus solution, not just a free software.


7. Load anti-spy ware software. I like to use Spybot S&D which is free and available from I particularly like the concept of using free software from a guy that is completely independent and doesn’t quibble over definitions (like most large vendors do).


8. Delete the “free” bundled software. Bundled software (preinstalled on the computer) exists for one purpose – you end up buying their paid version at the end of the free period because you are too lazy to download anything else. The free software is normally crippled anyway (features missing) so from my point of view it’s just clutter on the computer that should be removed.


9. Load other software. Of course I then load up another software I intend to use on the computer.


10. Log into you non-administrator account and start using the computer.


Now I know people have different solutions for how they set-up their computer, but I like my way, because every lesson applied here has been learnt with pain. Therefore I thought I’d share. Enjoy.


Brendan Lewis is the founder of two IT service firms, Edion and Verve IT, and executive director of the Churchill Club.

To read more Brendan Lewis blogs, click here.



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