3 things I do when setting up a new computer

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

When you get a new computer, you can’t just turn it on and start using it. Those days are long gone. Now, you have to navigate past Microsoft’s tricks and traps. And it’s important to do it right from the beginning – otherwise you could end up with a lot of frustration and wasted time trying to fix it.

Windows 10 setup


Today I’ll tell you 3 of the important steps in the process I use for setting up a new computer. I go through the same process when I’m prepping a laptop for resale also.

  • Install Chrome and set it as the default browser

When you get a new Windows 10 computer, the browser that’s set to be the default is Edge. Edge is awful. How awful is it? It’s so bad, only about 5% of Windows users use it – even though it’s the one that comes as the default browser. This means the vast majority of people install a different browser when they get a new computer.

The one I use is Chrome. It’s easy to use, and it’s also easy to use my ad blocking extension (uBlock Origin). Just go to Google.com/chrome and click the Download button, and follow the steps. At some point it will ask you to make Chrome the default browser, so go ahead and do that. Microsoft Edge will still be on your computer; you just won’t use it. In fact, Internet Explorer is even still in there (even though you don’t see it) but of course you won’t want to use it either. Chrome is all you need. If you prefer Firefox, it’s good too.

  • Turn on System Restore and create a restore point

It makes no sense whatsoever, but when you install Windows 10, System Restore is turned OFF by default. If your computer has a problem, or if you install software that causes a glitch, it’s so nice to have the option of taking the computer back to an earlier date and time. When you take it back to a time that was before the problem started, the problem is gone.

BUT – you don’t have that option when System Restore is not enabled and configured. So you need to do that on any new computer. In the search bar in the bottom left, type the word “create” and then in the search results, click on “Create a restore point”. That takes you to the System Restore dialog box, where you will choose the “C” drive and click Configure. In that new window you can enable System Restore, configure it to use about 2% of your drive space, and then go ahead and create a restore point just in case you might need it.

  • Turn off ads in the Start menu

This is another example of Microsoft’s sliminess. Click the Start button, then the Settings icon (it looks like a gear). Then click the Personalization category, and click the Start tab in the left column. In that windows, you’ll see an option that says “Show suggestions occasionally in Start” and it’s turned ON by default. Well, by “suggestions”, Microsoft really means “advertisements”. You want your Start menu clogged with their ads? Of course not. No one does. Slide that switch to the left to turn it off.

And here’s a bonus tip (which just might be more important than any of the other three we already talked about) – don’t connect your new computer to the internet until you get to the desktop screen. When you first turn it on, Microsoft will really – REALLY – want you to connect it to the internet before doing anything else. In fact, if you don’t want to do that, the phrase you have to click on isn’t “Don’t connect” or something simple. What you have to click on is “I don’t have internet”. Which of course will confuse some people, which means they might actually go back and choose to connect to the internet, which is exactly what Microsoft wants them to do.

When you set up a new computer that’s online, that means you have to sign in to your Microsoft account in order to get into your computer. Oh, you don’t have a Microsoft account? Well then, you’ll need to create one. And create a password for that account. And create security questions for recovering that password. And if you install Office later, that means your documents and other files will by default be stored in OneDrive, rather than in your computer’s Documents folder. Once Microsoft has its hooks in you like that, it’s a cumbersome process to undo it. That’s by design.

I prefer to not engage in any of that nonsense. Just don’t connect it to the internet, and don’t bother with a password. You can add one later if you need one, and it doesn’t have to be your Microsoft account – it can just be a local user account on your computer.

KEEP IN MIND – the things I talked about today are just a few of the MANY configurations I make when setting up a computer. If you buy a laptop from me, that stuff is already all done for you. And I do New PC Setup for many of my clients when they get a new computer (this can all be done remotely). If you need help just let me know.

listen to my podcast in Apple Podcasts


Share this post

5 comments Add your comment »

Get updates when new comments are added. Subscribe to the comments RSS Feed

Glyn Hunt
October 28th, 2019

Thanks for this mornings tips. I have one concern and one question.
Once you setup “restore” how do you use it ad where is it? I am afraid if I setup wrong or use it wrong it can set restore to day one and all is lost.

On bonus tip can you do this at any time or just on the first setup on a new computer.

One of your dummy clients


Scott Johnson
October 28th, 2019

Hi Glyn – I don’t have any dummy clients! 🙂
You can create a restore point as often as you wish. System Restore is not something you would use all the time, but it is handy in certain situations. How to use it would be a good topic for a future Monday.

peter brown
October 28th, 2019

Hi Scott,
just reading your tip this morning made me feel good. I realize I am not as crazy as I thought I might be. I bought a lap top about three years ago windows and microsoft was installed on it. I sure was reminded of george orwells 1984 when I had to meet ‘ corona’ my personal assistant ,and all the passwords and usernames I needed to create, what a time killer that was.Edge was the worst, Chrome at least for now is much better.
Anyway your tips are always simple and right on. Thanks from Haverhill ma. peter b

Lee Siegman
October 28th, 2019

Thanks for the great tips especially about setting up system restore. I do, however, disagree regarding the use of a Microsoft account. Even if you don’t recommend it as part of the initial setup, I do prefer to use it as a repository for Office documents. Not only are documents available there but on tablets and phones, it has one additional super power. Word and other Office documents saved in OneDrive have versioning available. I can access each version of a document at every Save Point. I can save a version with a different file name and, even copy/cut and paste between versions. This is not available on documents saved to my local drive. This would be a great tip to share.

Scott Johnson
October 28th, 2019

Thanks Lee. There’s an add-in that seems to provide versioning for Word now: http://www.gmayor.com/SaveVersionsAdd-In.htm