Getting a new Windows PC or laptop is always a big event – but by the time you get it home, the show’s only just getting started.
There’s no great hassle to setting up a new PC – but if you’re not too familiar with the process, it’s easy to miss some important things out.
For that reason, we’ve put together this useful guide to help you get to grips with your new laptop or desktop computer. Just follow the steps we’ve laid out, and your new kit will be ready for primetime before you know it!
If your new computer’s a laptop, rather than a desktop, it’ll come with a battery. These days, most laptops come with some charge in the battery – usually around 40% to 60% – but it could be lower depending on when exactly it was manufactured.
In the past, laptops used ‘nickel-cadmium’ batteries that required a full charge and discharge cycle to maximise their capacity and lifespan. These days, most laptops use ‘lithium-ion’ batteries, which are less sensitive.
In any case, you’ll want to plug the laptop into the mains and let it charge fully the first time you use it. Don’t worry: you can still power up the computer and continue to set it up while it’s charging.
Once you’ve done Windows 10's initial setup and you see your new computer’s desktop for the first time, it’s time to install any available updates for Windows.
Windows updates don’t just bring new features and functions to your PC: they also contain critical security fixes to help protect your PC from viruses, malware and other threats. As such, it’s crucial to keep Windows up to date at all times.
By default, Windows 10 will automatically download updates while you’re connected to the internet – but it’s worth checking manually the first time,so you can get any critical updates as soon as possible.
To do so, click the Start button in the bottom-left of the screen. Then, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and click Check for updates.
If there are any updates available, Windows will then download and install them, and you’ll be prompted to restart your computer for the updates to take effect.
In future, when Windows 10 has automatically downloaded updates, you may see a notification pop up asking you to restart your computer for the updates to take effect.
Once your computer’s up to date, it’s time to create a ‘System Restore’ point.
This is a feature built into Windows that lets you ‘turn back time’ and restore your computer to its state at a certain point in the past.
This is really useful if something ever goes wrong with your PC – so it’s worth doing as soon as possible.
Windows 10 is actually smart enough to set restore points automatically after major updates and app installations – but this feature is disabled by default. So to set up your first System Restore point and enable automatic points in future, here’s what you need to do:
Open the Start menu in the bottom-left of the screen and search for “System Restore” in the Windows 10 search box.
Choose Create a restore point from the list of results. You should now see a ‘System Properties’ dialogue box.
Click the System Protection tab, then click Configure.
Click the button marked Turn on system protection.
Below, you’ll see a slider for Disk Space Usage. This determines how much of your computer’s memory will be set aside for System Restore points – and you shouldn’t normally need to set this above 5%.
Close this menu to return to the System Protection menu, then click Create… to manually create a System Restore point.
To restore your system in future, just return to this menu and press the System Restore… button.
Now you’ve got System Restore configured, it’s time to take a few extra precautions against malware and other computer nasties.
‘Malware’ is short for ‘malicious software’, and includes things like viruses, keyloggers and other criminal threats that can cause serious damage to your computer – and could even spy on your activities and steal your personal data.
Thankfully, Windows 10 comes with a powerful security package called Windows Defender Security Center.
This should already be installed and running by default on your Windows 10 computer – but it’s worth looking over your settings, familiarising yourself with how it works and making sure it’s up to date.
To do so, open the Start menu, and search for "Windows Defender Security Center".
From there, you’ll see headings for Virus & threat protection, Device performance & health, Firewall & network protection, App & browser control and Family options. These will also let you know if there’s any specific action required from you. In short, though, a green tick by each one means you’re good to go.
To learn more about Windows 10 security settings, Microsoft have put together a comprehensive help guide here.
Many new PCs come with all kinds of extra software installed on them by the manufacturers.
Some of this is useful, but some of it just takes up space and slows things down – and so, this kind of software has become known as ‘bloatware’.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to deal with it. A handy piece of software, the charmingly named ‘PC Decrapifier’, is specifically designed to detect and remove any unnecessary third-party software installed on your computer. You can download it here.
So far, we’ve done a lot of technical caretaking – but now it’s time to have some fun!
Your PC is somewhere you’ll be spending a lot of time. And just like a room in your house, personalising it is a great way to make it your own, and express yourself creatively.
Naturally, you’ll be able to choose a new image for your desktop background – or even a rotating slideshow of images. You can also change the general colour scheme of of the Windows, customise the lock screen and more.
Indeed, there are all kinds of ways to personalise your new computer – so take a look at Team Knowhow’s comprehensive guide to get started.
Finally, it’s time to customise your computer further with some really useful – and fun – software!
Next, PC gaming is more popular than ever, and one of the big advantages PCs have over games consoles is the vast number of free games out there. We put together a list of the best free PC games each month – so why not take a look at our round-up and grab something fun?
Finally, it’s worth picking up Speccy by Piriform. This is a handy utility that gives you at-a-glance information about your PC, from the type of hardware you’ve got installed to your machine’s current temperature. It’s not the kind of thing you’ll need to use every day – but if you ever need some technical support, it’s very useful information to have on hand.