Windows

Five tips for improving a new PC

Out of the box, a new PC needs a bit of fine-tuning to optimize and protect it. Here are a few basic ways to get new PCs ready for action.

Ah, the fresh smell of a new PC. For some, it doesn't get any better than that. But for others, it's an exercise in pure frustration to get that machine working up to snuff. First, there is all the software to install and the configurations to take care of. And if you're on a domain... you can see where this leads. Suffice it to say, with a new PC comes a lot of work to get it how you want it. But users often neglect basic steps -- or they just don't know about them.

If you are an IT consultant, you should have this process down pat: getting a new PC out the door and to the client. If you're inside a company (especially a larger company), you probably have stringent rules that must be applied to all PCs. Somewhere in between, however, lies the many users who can benefit from knowing what types of things to do when a new PC arrives. Here are five simple tasks that will improve that new PC -- even before it gets its first day of work.

1: Remove the cruft

This generally applies only to machines purchased at big-box stores. You may want to jump in here and say, "Businesses don't purchase machines at big-box stores!" But don't kid yourself. I can't tell you how many times we see clients attempt to save money by doing just that. In the end, however, the money they save winds up getting spent on support to resolve all the issues created by the extra stuff installed. You will find installation tools, trials, and worthless pieces of software galore on these machines. Get rid of it all! Most of it will never be used anyway and it's just taking up space and (even worse) resources.

2: Immediately install antivirus and anti-malware

It's shocking how many people neglect this. Viruses and malware outbreaks get worse and worse as time goes by, and most users don't notice until their machines become unusable. This should always be one of the first things done after unboxing and plugging in a machine. (As soon as it has a network connection, it's vulnerable.) And although this should go without saying, make sure there is only ONE antivirus solution on the machine.

3: Set up regular maintenance tasks

This applies to just about any Windows deployment you have. Make sure you have Disk Cleanup and Defragmenter set up to happen at regularly scheduled intervals. Do not depend upon your end users to take care of this task, because they won't. Also, make sure you set up both antivirus and anti-malware for regularly scheduled scans and daily definition updates.

4: Disable unnecessary services

Windows machines have plenty of services that are simply not needed. Say, for instance, you never send or receive faxes through your PC. Why not make sure the fax service isn't running? Naturally, this will depend on the user. But no matter what the PC is used for, you will find unnecessary services running. If you decide to undertake this task, make sure you know what a service is and does before you disable it. These resources provide that info:

You can disable services by issuing the command services.msc at the Run prompt to open the Services window.

5: Turn off Aero in Vista or Windows 7

If a machine is sluggish out of the gate, it could mean it barely has the resources to run everything necessary. You can give it a bit of a boost by turning off the Aero feature in either Vista or Windows 7. This will disable all of the fancier GUI elements of the OS but give you back some speed. To do this in Vista, right-click on the desktop, select Personalize, and then click Window Color And Appearance. Next, click Open Classic Appearance Properties For More Color Options. In the Appearance Settings dialog box, select Windows Vista Basic from the Color Scheme list. For Windows 7 just right-click the desktop, select Personalize, and then scroll down until you see Basic Themes. Select a basic theme and Aero will be disabled.

More improvements

There are, of course, plenty of other ways to improve a new PC -- but these five are usually my go-to list of improving a newly unboxed PC. Do you have your own favorite ways to improve new PCs? If so, share it with your fellow TechRepublic readers.


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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

24 comments
alfredan
alfredan

use krojam cleaner it is going to be too help full.

ian
ian

Gis Bun said it right. Why run things at startup? I schedule every thing for the evening. Backups first to save the days work before checking for updates. I run virus software after updates are installed then let the PC shutdown. Mike Bytes was right, CCleaner is great and there is no need to run it daily. I use CCleaner at every uninstall. I use CCleaner to do the uninstall then use it to clean the registry of all the crud that is left behind.I do a couple or passes to make sure everything is cleared. I run the Cleaner every Sunday before backups.Why backup crud? You can exclude cookies from being uninstalled in the options section. First time I did this, I wasn't sure which cookies to keep so I cleared them all then went to all the sites where I know I need cookies. I then went back to CCleaner and saved them in the options section.

greg-50
greg-50

agree 100% first step is drop in the ubuntu cd { or linux of choice } and install

Jaqui
Jaqui

is to install Linux completely destroying the factory partitions. :D with a custom partition table to allow building linux from sources and dump the bloated garbage called a distro used to dump the bloated garbage called windows.

sura.jan
sura.jan

for Microsoft: return Classical Windows view to Win7 whithout ANY stupid toys (not only Aero) spending CPU power and disturbing normal work!

Bill Turlock
Bill Turlock

It's in .xls format??!? What am I supposed to do with that?? I've got Windows, I don't need any more MS proprietary s/w!

gi7omy
gi7omy

Two I always do: 1: set the swapfile/pagefile to a fixed value to stop it fragmenting. 2: in performance options 'set for best performance'

mike
mike

With a New PC, I forget whatever is installed on delivery and set the C: partition to 30 GB (some consider this excessive) and use BART PE to install a pre-prepared image ? containing all my settings, software and network settings. Usually needs 2 reboots so it can detect all the hardware etc and perhaps some licenses reinstalled ? takes about 1 hour (assuming no issues) ? easy!

gi7omy
gi7omy

Set for 'best performance' does that automatically :D

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Huh? Oh I'm sure OpenOffice can open an xls file. Or just download the Excel Viewer.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

So basically you want to SLOW down the startup to run a registry cleaner? Wouldn't it be easier to scredule it to run once a week/month? If you need to run a registry cleaner more than once a week, there is something wrong somewhere.

rwbyshe
rwbyshe

The major thing I don't like about CCleaner is that it removes all remembered passwords so that users have to reinstall them after it's done running. Do you know of any tweaks to prevent this? As a result of the above I seldom run CCleaner anymore. I use Advanced System Care and it does all that CCleaner does and more. Overall, I feel ASC is a better option.

Jaqui
Jaqui

and I've never tried to deny o hide it. :D

jfuller05
jfuller05

You can customize ccleaner to your needs. It runs in the background, users hardly even notice, except for the tab on the taskbar. Since it would be cleaning everyday (files) the process wouldn't take long at all.

dirving
dirving

Look at the list of actions taken when ccleaner runs - then deselect anything involving cookies and/or remembered passwords for the browser you use - Firefox, Opera, etc. tend to show up on the apps list rather than the first tab

Matthew G. Davidson
Matthew G. Davidson

CCleaner will save all of your settings in a file named CCLEANER.ini. This file is located in the CCLeaner Program Files Folder. To create the file open CCleaner; click on Options; Advanced and check off "Save all settings to INI file". Now just save that file on each users computer.

MikeBytes
MikeBytes

While some, not all of your passwords may be in cookies, many times at least your logon id is in a cookie. Find those cookies in your cookie file and then "exclude" them from being deleted in ccleaner. I have used this program for several years at boot. I also use it to clean out the registry. It is a good tool that can be set up to run as you like.

jfuller05
jfuller05

in my browser. Anyway, you could uncheck cookies under IE or FF in the CCleaner option. I believe that would prevent your passwords from being "cleaned." Yeah, I've used ASC before. When a PC is realy bogged down, I run CCleaner, ASC,and Glary utilities. :) edit: you could also have the users backup their passwords in a password vault. I believe there is one for download here at TR in the downloads section.

NexS
NexS

From here. That's how potent you are.