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Setting Up a New  Computer

Because of all the malware and viruses out there, I recommend setting up your new computer to run as an Ordinary User (Standard User in Windows 8) rather than as an administrator.

It is much easier to do this when you first start the computer than it is to change it later.  If you do it FIRST, then any data you create (documents, pictures, music) will be in your user files.  If you wait until later, transferring them to the new user will be much more difficult.

General information for Windows 7 and 8 computers:

When you take the computer out of the box (yup, starting at the beginning), be sure to remove all plastic protective material from the computer.  Some of it is hard to see, but just check all the surfaces for plastic tape.  If it is a desktop computer (with a separate monitor), you are ready to go.  If it is a laptop/notebook, plug it in and leave it plugged in until it is completely charged.  Usually there is a charge light to let you know when it is done.

Note:  You don’t have to do the full charge thing, but I find that if I do a complete charge and then run the computer until it complains about a low battery, the battery seems to last better.  I know there is probably no reason for it, but it works for me.  I have a 3 year old laptop that still has 2/3 of its original battery power, and even the manufacturers say that batteries are consumables.

If it is a desktop computer, plug in the mouse, keyboard, power supply, and video cable to the monitor.  DO NOT plug in your printer yet.  Some printers will be fine and download the right software, but some won’t and it is better not to complicate the initial boot (start up) of the computer.

Press the on button on the computer.  Wait patiently for it to boot the first time.  Depending on your operating system, memory, and cpu (processor speed) the time will vary.  When the computer gets to the first screen, read the information there and proceed.

Windows 7:

When the computer asks you to create a user name, choose something that relates to you and indicates that this will be the administrator account, for instance, smith-admin (last name + admin).  You can’t use admin or administrator because those are reserved terms.  Choose a good password for the account that you will NOT forget.  Write it on painter’s tape and stick it to the side of the computer being careful not to cover any air vents (or on the bottom of the laptop).  If you forget this password, it is a very bad thing.

  1. When the computer finishes booting, click on Start –> Control Panel, and choose “User Accounts and Family Safety.”  Then click on User Accounts.
  2. In the “Make changes to your user account” screen, choose “Manage another account.”
  3. Under the list of accounts, click on Create new account.
  4. Use your name for the account name, then be sure the “standard user” button is selected, and click on Create Account.
  5. It will take a while for the computer to create your new account.
  6. When it has finished, click on Start, then click the little triangle next to Shut Down and choose log off (not switch user).
  7. Log in as the new standard user and install any programs you want to use.

Windows will ask for your administrator credentials (password) each time you do something that requires administrative level.   You can go back the control panel and set up a password for the standard user account.  Yes, it is a little inconvenient to have to put in a password every time you install a program, but it will prevent malware from installing without your permission.

 Windows 8:

On first boot, Windows 8 will require you to login with a Microsoft Live identity.  If you don’t have one, you will be guided to create one using an existing e-mail address.  I strongly recommend using a webmail address from Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft Live, Excite, or somewhere that you will be able to access easily.

When Windows 8 asks you if you want to use the default setup, choose custom and NO on the references to Bing and sending information to Microsoft if you want to reduce the invasion of your privacy.  Once Windows has finished booting and setting up your user files for your administrator, you can move forward with creating a Standard User for everyday use.

Windows 8 presents a slightly different method that 7.  In order to set up an ordinary user, you must use a different e-mail address than you used for the initial setup.  That means setting up a second e-mail address in advance of creating that second user.  It needs to be an e-mail address to which you have access, since it will occasionally require contact with Microsoft.  You can create this e-mail address at gmail, yahoo, windows live mail, or wherever you wish.  Be sure to write down any passwords and the exact e-mail address once you get it registered.

Once you have that second e-mail address, you can move on to creating a user in Windows 8.


First you need to get to Accounts.  There are several ways to do this, but the easiest is to type accounts into the search box.  Go to “Add, delete, and manage other user accounts” (it will come up on the search), and from this point it works pretty much like Windows 7.

  1. Click on “Add an account.”  Agree to make changes in the dialog box that pops up.  (Image 1)
  2. Put in that second e-mail address and click next.  You will need to fill out the Microsoft stuff again to create a live account.  (Image 2)  The password is NOT the regular e-mail password.  It will be your password for your Microsoft account that uses that e-mail address.  It should have letters and numbers and be at least 8 digits.
  3. In the next screen you have to fill out more stuff (yes, you have to).  The alternate e-mail can be the one you used for your first account.
  4. In the next screen, uncheck the two boxes allowing personal information to be transmitted. Then type in the letters in the box.  If you can’t read them, click the New for something else.  Click Next.
  5.  It will tell you that the account has been created.  (Image 3)
  6. The screen will display the new login name.  Click Finish.  It will take a little time for the computer to add that user.

Log off as the administrative user and log in as the new standard user and install any programs you want to use. Windows will ask for your administrator credentials (password) each time you do something that requires administrative level.  Your password for the new, standard account is the password you created for you Microsoft account.  In order to change it, you have to go to Microsoft Live online.

General Observations:

People don’t like to be inconvenienced.  I get that.  Running as an ordinary (standard) user can be a little inconvenient — you have to put in that administrative password whenever you install a program or update a program.  HOWEVER it can save you from a great deal of grief.

If you run as an administrator, malware can install without a password, so if you click on that innocent looking pop-up about a virus on your computer, it can install itself and invite its evil friends over to play (because you gave it permission when you told it NO (or yes)).  If you have to actually type in a password to allow something to install on your computer, you are more likely to rethink the idea and either give me a call to ask, or just tell it no in the first place.

If you run as a standard user and you don’t give the password to your 6 year old grandson, he won’t inadvertently click on something that will infect you with malware that will require 4 hours of reinstall and restoring of data.  It can SAVE YOU MONEY — Lots of money.

Call me (if you are in the Emporia, KS area) if you need help, but you can probably do it yourself.

Additional Tasks:

Of course the first thing you have to do with a new computer is to be sure that the antivirus is installed and running correctly.  Most new computers come with a 30-60 day trial of either Norton or McAfee Antivirus.  If you want to use one of those and then pay for it when the trial period runs out, activate it during that first boot.  If you prefer to use a different program, don’t allow the computer to activate the trial and proceed to install whatever antivirus you prefer.  Once the Antivirus of your choosing is safely installed (if you choose something besides the free trial one), you will need to navigate to the control panel (right click on the start button in 8 or left click in 7 and choose Control Panel, then choose “uninstall a program”) and uninstall that trial version of Norton or McAfee.

I have my own preferences of antivirus.  I use Avast on my personal computers.  You can read about it at the link.  AVG is also a fine free antivirus.

One caution, when you pay for either McAfee or Norton, you will have to provide a credit card.  Be sure to change the auto-renew settings to OFF so that the company doesn’t keep charging you for updates until the end of time.  It is easier to turn it off than to get a refund if they charge you incorrectly in a year or two.

You will probably need to install a word processor of some sort.  Microsoft Office is a good professional suite of programs if you need the power, but OpenOffice is free to home users, and it will read and write .doc (Word) and .xls (Excel) files just fine.  It will also read Office 2007 and on Word and Excel files (.docx and .xlsx).  You can read more about word processors HERE.

You may also want to download an alternate browser (Chrome or Firefox).

Of course there will be lots of Windows Updates to install, and the computer will nag you about those for a week or so.  Just let them install.  Of course, you may have to put in that administrator’s password if you have followed my suggestion to setup a Regular User/Ordinary User.

Windows 8 Mail program is (in my opinion) difficult to use.  I would recommend using web-mail directly to access your mail.