BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2005

  

 

BOOT CAMP 401 (06/12/05)

Ten things to do with a new PC, part 1

 

A lot of people will be acquiring a new Windows XP PC over the next few weeks. Quite a few of them will develop faults, crash or fail to live up to their owner’s expectations and in a good many cases this will be due to them not being configured properly.

 

PC hardware is usually incredibly reliable and if something is going to go wrong it will usually do so in the first few hours of use. There’s not much you can do about that but most early problems are software related so over the next two weeks we’re going to see how to avoid glitches and give your new PC the best chance of a long and healthy life.

 

1. SET PASSWORDS & CHECK HARDWARE

One of your first tasks after switching a new PC for the first time is to set up your user accounts and passwords. When you set a password write it down and keep it somewhere safe. You will also be asked to create a Password Recovery Disc. You should do so, and look after it!

 

If you are the only user and do not want to bother with a password every time you boot up Windows see this week’s Top Tip. Once you are happy with the way Windows starts up go to Start > Control Panel > System > Hardware > Device Manager and check through the list for any problems with your PC’s internal components. These will be indicated by a yellow exclamation mark. If you see any and you can’t resolve the problem straight away you should contact the manufacturer or vendor before loading any software. 

 

2. SET SCREEN RESOLUTION AND OPTIMISE DISPLAY

Windows tries its best to configure the display to match the PC’s video adaptor and monitor but you can’t rely on it. If you are using an LCD screen the display resolution should match the monitor’s ‘native’ resolution. To check right-click an empty area of the Desktop and select Properties > Settings.  LCD screens also benefit from using Clear Type fonts, see Top Tips Archive. 

 

Refer to the monitor manual for the optimum display Refresh Rate. You can adjust it by  going to Display Properties (right-click desktop, Properties > Settings > Advanced button and select the Monitor tab). LCDs should normally be set to 60 or 75Hz, CRTs are usually 75Hz or faster; slower speeds can result in an annoying screen flicker. On larger screens (19-inches and above) you can improve ligibility by changing the display dpi (dots per inch) setting -- also on the Display Properties Advanced menu -- from 96 to 120dpi.

 

 

3. CLEAR OUT THE CLUTTER

PC manufacturers and vendors often load new PCs with trial and demo programs, Internet accounts, promos and special offers that you don’t want or need. Use Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel to uninstall any unwanted software and delete redundant desktop icons by right-clicking on them. Afterwards reboot and run the Defrag utility from Start > Programs > Accessories  > System Tools then set a new System Restore point (see Boot Camp 334).

 

 

4. SET UP THE INTERNET

If you haven’t already done so now is a good time to set up your Internet Connection  by running the Internet Connection Wizard (Control Panel > Internet Options > Connections tab, > Setup). Once it is up and running you can install and configure your anti-virus software, firewall, spam filter and malware cleaners. My recommendations -- all freeware or shareware -- are AVG or Avast! for anti-virus protection. For a Firewall try ZoneAlarm (you can leave the XP firewall switched on if you like); have a look at Mailwasher for your spam filter and keep your PC free of malware with AdAware, Microsoft AntiSpyware and Spybot.

 

I would also take this opportunity to install Mozilla Firefox and use that in preference to Internet Explorer. As well as being faster and more secure it’s also a much better browser. Sooner or later you are going to need Adobe Acrobat Reader so download and install that. However, I have found the latest version to be slow and unwieldy, I much prefer V4, which can be downloaded from OldVersion.com.  Don’t forget to reboot after each new installation and when you have finished and are satisfied that everything is working properly set a new System Restore Point.

 

 

5. DOWNLOAD UPDATES

The last task this week is to download the latest Windows XP patches and fixes from the Microsoft Update web site. Click the link in Help on the Start menu under ‘Pick a Task. When installation is complete reboot, check everything is okay and set a new System Restore Point.

 

NEXT WEEK -- Ten things to do with a new PC, part 2

 

JARGON FILTER

 

‘NATIVE’ RESOLUTION

The number of pixels (e.g. 1024 x 768, 1280 x 1024 etc.) used to make up the display on an LCD monitor

 

PIXEL

Picture-Element, a single dot in a digitally generated image or display, the greater the number of pixels the greater the amount of detail

 

REFRESH RATE

The number of times each second (measured in Hz) the video display on a PC monitor is 'redrawn'.

 

TOP TIP

If you are the only one who uses your Windows XP computer and you are not concerned about logging on with a password then you can set Windows to bypass the logon screen. Go to Run on the Start menu and type ‘control userpasswords2’ (without the quotes) then click OK. Select you User Name then uncheck ‘Users must enter a user name and password…’ and click OK. Now go to Run on the Start menu again and enter ‘control userpasswords’, select ‘Change the way users log on or off’ and uncheck both ‘Use the Welcome screen’ and ‘Use Fast User Switching’, click OK exit and reboot and Windows should boot straight through to the desktop. See the Top Tips archive at www.rickmaybury.com for more great Windows hints and tweaks.

 

---end---

 

© R. Maybury 2005, 3011

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