You Have a New Computer: Now What?

While tablets and electronic readers (eReaders) are being heralded as the most popular gifts this holiday season, computers will also be hot items.  So, it’s likely that many Black Web 2.0 readers will unwrap boxes filled with desktops, laptops, and netbooks in a few weeks.  A new computer usually brings with it better performance and hardware options, but it can also present problems if initial steps like installing anti-virus software are not taken.  Furthermore, there are a few simple steps you can take to maximize the performance of your computer whether it is a budget system or a top of the line model.

Check The Screen

Most computer monitors and all laptop screens are LCDs that are composed of millions of pixels that turn on or off to display images.  Since the screen is the primary interface to the computer, it’s important that all pixels work properly.  However, some screens have defective pixels that look like tiny black dots on the screen.  Called “dead pixels”, they can be extremely annoying and mar an otherwise beautiful display.  You can use a utility called Dead Pixel Tester to check your screen for dead pixels.  It cycles all the pixels though various colors and lets you mark the dead ones.  Most manufacturers will let you return or exchange the computer if enough dead pixels are found, and it’s easier to do this while the computer is new.

Remove Bloatware

Computer manufacturers often pre-load free utilities and software programs with the operating system installed on your computer.  These programs are often described by manufacturers as bonus programs designed to make your computer more useful.  However, manufacturers are paid by the creators of these programs to add them to computers, and these applications often slow down your machine.  Called “bloatware” by technologists, these programs can take hours to manually remove yourself.  An application called PC Decrapifier will scan your computer for the most commonly used pre-loaded titles and remove them from your computer.

Protect Your Computer  from Malicious Software

Viruses and spyware are a reality for computer users.  These programs can slow down your computer, steal the personal data you store on it, or hijack it and use it to attack other computers over the internet.  Protect yourself by using software to defend and remove malicious software from your computer.  Your computer probably came with 30 day trials of antivirus programs from companies like Norton, but there are plenty of effective free applications.  Microsoft offers a free antivirus program called Security Essentials, and Avast and AVG Free are also good options.  Spybot Search & Destroy and Ad-Aware are great free anti-spyware programs.

Run Updates

From the time the computer left the manufacturer’s warehouse to when you take it out of its box, the software installed on it has probably become out of date.  Software companies issue regular updates to their programs, and it’s a good idea to check for updates to make sure you’re taking full advantage of the latest versions of your favorite programs.  It is especially important to update your operating system to make sure you are protected from recently released fixes to new vulnerabilities that could leave your computer open to attack.



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