Here's the info you need to ensure long, safe, trouble-free computing whether you're starting the year with a brand-new PC, or with an older, used PC that's new to you.
Happy New Year, everyone--and happy new first-quarter budget, too! It's that time of year when business purse strings may loosen a bit, making money available for new hardware and software purchases: Many of us will be getting new PCs in the coming weeks and months.
Others of us already have a new or almost-new computer: Perhaps an end-of-the year splurge, or the result of having a few extra dollars left in the hardware budget at the close of the fourth quarter; or on a personal level, perhaps you received a holiday gift PC.
Even if your PC isn't new from the factory, it still may be new to you, passed along as part of a departmental PC shuffle or reallocation of existing hardware, for example. Whatever the reason, many of us are facing questions such as: What's the best way to get off on the right foot with a new PC? What steps can you take to ensure that the hardware and software is set up as solidly as possible for long-term safety and reliability? And there are other real-life concerns, too, such as these, voiced by reader Richard M. Terlecki:
Dear Fred: I just got a brand new PC ... and my questions and comments are as follows: The last "System Setup Secrets" was published back in July 2003, is there any possibility you could update this article...? I am fearful of reformatting the C: drive. I want to do it because I want to set up partitions such as you have described in previous articles. I want C: to be for the operating system, D: for applications and data, and E: for backups in addition to using an external drive for backups also. My fear is that I will not be able to reload all of the applications that came installed on the system and have them work properly utilizing the d: drive due to insufficient standalone programs from Dell. Any suggestions? I have my current system set up as you have recommended in the past. Why when I select custom install on all programs and select the d: drive do I still get c:\ program files with some information in it? I can understand why programs need to install information into \windows on the c: drive but not why these programs need to install information on both the c: and d: drives under program files? -- Best Regards, Richard
Let's step through the questions in sequence. As usual with the information we present here, you can go as deep or shallow as you wish: If you follow all the steps, you'll go deep indeed, but will end up with a PC that's as near perfect as you can reasonably achieve. Or, you can follow fewer steps to focus just on areas of particular interest to you. It's entirely up to you how far you go. But no matter what your preferences, the keys to a better-running, better set-up PC are in the next few pages.
(SPECIAL NOTE FOR IN-USE PCs: If you're cleaning up a PC that's new to you--that is, one that was previously used by someone else--or if you just want to make your existing PC work as well as it can, start with the information in Year-End PC Tasks and then cherry-pick the appropriate additional steps from the rest of this article.)
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