Some people say that laptops aren’t needed anymore : they’re less portable than tablets and less powerful than desktop PCs, straddling a weird “worst of both worlds” line. But I still love them and I think they’re still useful, especially if you’re a student 5 Reasons Every Student Should Be Using a Chromebook 5 Reasons Every Student Should Be Using a Chromebook Looking for a new computer for your college work? Forget a new Mac and disregard Windows. What you need is a Chromebook — here are five reasons why. Read More . Perhaps you agree.
So you’ve gone ahead and bought a new laptop for work, have you? Or maybe you’ve received one as a gift to get you through college? These next few years are going to be a joy for you — but only if you take some time right now to set it up properly.
Here are a handful of things you should absolutely do with a new laptop. A small investment of energy up front can save you tons of headache and frustration down the line.
1. Update the Operating System
Whether you bought the laptop from a brick-and-mortar store or off the internet, it’s likely been sitting around for several months. Your laptop will not be up to snuff if any updates were pushed during that time — and updates are more important than you might think .
- On Windows, turn on Windows Update How to Manage Windows Update in Windows 10 How to Manage Windows Update in Windows 10 For control freaks, Windows Update is a nightmare. It’s designed to operate in the background, automatically keeping your system safe and running smoothly. We show you how it works and what you can customize. Read More . I know it’s annoying, and I know it always seems to trigger at the worst times, but it’s a small price to pay for security.
- On Mac, keep up with software updates A Complete Guide to Updating Your Mac’s Software A Complete Guide to Updating Your Mac’s Software There’s no one-size fits all maintenance solution, so it pays to understand how updates for your Mac and its software work. Read More when you’re alerted about them. Don’t postpone and postpone and postpone, otherwise you may find yourself victim to malware one day.
- On Linux, updates are more for usability than security, but still as important. Learn more about managing and updating software packages Which Linux Package Manager (and Distro) Is Right for You? Which Linux Package Manager (and Distro) Is Right for You? A key difference between the main Linux distros is the package manager; the differences are strong enough that it can influence your choice of distro. Let’s look at how the various package managers work. Read More as well as updating the Linux kernel How to Update Linux Kernel for Improved System Performance How to Update Linux Kernel for Improved System Performance The Linux kernel is has regular releases, offering new features and improvements that you have to wait for in a new distribution release – unless you manually upgrade the Linux kernel. We show you how. Read More .
- On Chrome OS, everything is handled behind the scenes. Whenever you’re connected to Wi-Fi, Chrome OS checks for updates and downloads any that are found. To install, all you have to do is restart the device.
2. Remove Bloatware
Bloatwareis preloaded software that’s unwanted by or unnecessary for the end user. These apps are rarely used, yet waste tons of valuable drive space. Windows laptop manufacturers are notorious for this whereas it rarely happens on Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS laptops.
It’s important to learn how to avoid bloatware How To Remove Bloatware & Avoid It On New Laptops How To Remove Bloatware & Avoid It On New Laptops Tired of software you never wanted consuming your laptop’s resources? Your computer isn’t free ad space. Here’s how to get rid of bloatware. Read More , but if you’re reading this it’s too late. You already have the laptop in hand, it’s full of bloatware, and you just want to get rid of it.
The easiest way to clear third-party bloatware? Install one of these bulk uninstallers 3 Best Third-Party Uninstallers & Why You Need Them 3 Best Third-Party Uninstallers & Why You Need Them To uninstall a Windows program, you can’t just hit ‘Delete’ — you need to run the software’s uninstaller. Unfortunately, the ‘Uninstall a program’ option in the Windows Control Panel does not always completely remove it… Read More . They’ll scan your system for all installed apps and allow you to fully remove the ones you don’t want. Make sure you check an app’s importance before removing it! A Google search should suffice.
3. Install Antivirus Software
All laptops need antivirus software — yes, even Mac and Linux ones 4 Cyber Security Myths That Must Die 4 Cyber Security Myths That Must Die Read More ! It’s a myth that Windows is the only vulnerable operating system these days. If you let your guard down, you may find yourself a victim to serious attacks like ransomware.
That’s why we recommend installing antivirus software. If you don’t want a background service that protects you in real-time, at least get a manual tool like MalwareBytes and scan your computer for infections once per week.
- Recommended Windows antivirus software 5 Best Free Internet Security Suites for Windows 5 Best Free Internet Security Suites for Windows Which security suite do you trust the most? We look at five of the best free security suites for Windows, all of which offer anti-virus, anti-malware, and real-time protection features. Read More
- Recommended Mac antivirus software 9 Apple Mac Antivirus Options You Should Consider Today 9 Apple Mac Antivirus Options You Should Consider Today By now, you should know that Macs need antivirus software, but which one should you choose? These nine security suites will help you stay free of viruses, trojans, and all other sorts of malware. Read More
- Recommended Linux antivirus software The 7 Best Free Linux Anti-Virus Programs The 7 Best Free Linux Anti-Virus Programs Read More
- Chromebooks have built-in malware and virus protection
4. Install Antitheft Software
Laptop theft is one of the worst things that can happen. Not only do you lose the device, but all the important data on it — and once it’s taken, a laptop can be near impossible to recover 5 Things You Can Do To Potentially Retrieve Your Stolen Laptop 5 Things You Can Do To Potentially Retrieve Your Stolen Laptop Laptop theft accounts for millions of dollars of losses per year in the US alone. These figures not only include the physical value of the device, but also the associated costs when company information and… Read More unless the thief is extremely stupid and reveals himself.
Fortunately, Windows 10 has a built-in security feature 7 Windows 10 Security Features & How to Use Them 7 Windows 10 Security Features & How to Use Them Windows 10 is all about security. Microsoft recently instructed its partners that in sales, Windows 10’s security features should be the primary focus. How does Windows 10 live up to this promise? Let’s find out! Read More called Find My Device that can locate your laptop if it’s ever stolen or misplaced. If you don’t like that feature, or if you’re on Mac or Linux, you can always use the free version of Prey (which also supports mobile devices).
In addition to antitheft software, see these tips for keeping your laptop protected How To Prepare Your Laptop For A Case Of Theft How To Prepare Your Laptop For A Case Of Theft The great risk that comes with all portable devices is theft. Not only do you risk losing an expensive piece of hardware, a stolen laptop also contains private and potentially confidential data, for example photos,… Read More .
5. Optimize the Power Settings
If laptops are all about portability, then maximizing battery life should be a priority. A few simple tweaks can mean the difference between six hours and nine hours per charge.
First, reduce the display brightness. Don’t bring it down too much or else it could cause eye and mental fatigue 9 Bad Habits That Are Making You Tired at the Office 9 Bad Habits That Are Making You Tired at the Office Do you often feel tired at the office? The problem could be in the few bad habits that you’ve picked up. Remove exhaustion from your office life with these health building tips. Read More , but less brightness translates to longer battery life. On Windows, you can tweak the power options Windows 7 Power Options and Sleep Modes Explained Windows 7 Power Options and Sleep Modes Explained When Windows 7 launched, one of Microsoft’s selling points was that it was designed to help your battery last longer. One of the main features users will actually notice is that the screen dims before… Read More so the screen dims when the laptop isn’t plugged in. On Mac, you can tweak the Energy Saver feature How to Improve Your MacBook’s Battery Life How to Improve Your MacBook’s Battery Life While the current MacBooks are quite powerful, they have the same battery life as their predecessors. So what can you do? Quite a bit, it turns out. Read More to do the same.
Also consider utilizing the Sleep and/or Hibernate modes Sleep Mode vs. Hibernate Mode: Which Power-Saving Mode Should You Use? Sleep Mode vs. Hibernate Mode: Which Power-Saving Mode Should You Use? What exactly does Sleep mode do? How is it different from Hibernate mode, which is an extra option on Windows computers? Which should you choose, and are there downsides to using them? Read More for your operating system. These can preserve a lot of battery life when you’re travelling with your laptop in tow.
Finally, stop using Chrome. It’s known for being a huge battery drain. Yes, there are ways to reduce its strain 3 Quick Tips to Reduce Chrome’s CPU Usage & Battery Drain 3 Quick Tips to Reduce Chrome’s CPU Usage & Battery Drain Is Chrome using too much CPU and draining your battery? There may be a way for you to reduce its impact. Read More , but it’s still worse than other browsers. We recommend using Opera, which comes with a nifty battery saving mode How Ditching Chrome For Opera Will Improve Your Battery Life How Ditching Chrome For Opera Will Improve Your Battery Life There’s a chance Google Chrome might be your laptop battery life problem. Thankfully, Opera might have the solution, with its built-in battery saver mode. Here’s what you need to know. Read More .
6. Set Up Automated Backups
Imagine where you’ll be six months from now: your laptop is now full of documents, projects, presentations, and all kinds of other personal data. And then your laptop crashes. All of those files are lost — gone for good, nothing to be done about it.
Don’t let that happen. Set up a system of backups right now while you can.
Windows 10 has several native backup methods The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide Windows 10 makes data backups effortless. We have summarized every native backup, restore, recovery, and repair option we could find on Windows 10. Use our simple tips and never despair over lost data again! Read More including System Restore, Backup and Restore, Recovery Drive Creator, and more. Mac has the Time Machine feature, but if you don’t like it, you can always opt for one of these backup solutions 5 Local Mac Backup Solutions That Aren’t Time Machine 5 Local Mac Backup Solutions That Aren’t Time Machine There are lots of Mac backup options out there, and many of them have features that Apple’s default backup app just can’t compete with. Read More instead. Linux also has a number of nifty backup tools and utilities How to Make Data Backups on Ubuntu & Other Distros How to Make Data Backups on Ubuntu & Other Distros How much sensitive data would you lose if your disk drive died? Naturally, you need a backup solution, but making backups in Linux can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing… Read More that’ll conveniently save your data.
7. Set Up Cloud Storage and Syncing
Cloud storageis an excellent way to make your data accessible no matter where you are, and it can even act as a kind of semi-backup system. What’s cloud storage? Basically, keeping synchronized copies of your files on a remote server.
If your laptop ever dies or gets stolen, your files are still on the cloud.
The three most popular services are Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Is Best for You? Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Is Best for You? Have you changed the way you think about cloud storage? The popular options of Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive have been joined by others. We help you answer which cloud storage service should you use. Read More . They each have their pros and cons, but all of them offer free plans so try them all and see which you like best. I’m partial to Google Drive, mainly because I rely on Google Docs every single day.
8. Minimize Heat Damage
Don’t forget that laptops are more susceptible to heat 5 Ways To Utterly Destroy Your Laptop, Slowly But Surely 5 Ways To Utterly Destroy Your Laptop, Slowly But Surely Your laptop is a fragile piece of machinery. It’s a complex system packed with fast hardware, yet it also finds itself in constant use. This is how you prolong its lifespan. Read More than both desktops and tablets. Desktop cases are large enough for good ventilation and tablets don’t have to worry about dust buildup, whereas laptops have poor air circulation and lots of spots for dust to accumulate.
Subpar ventilation plus dust clogs equals heat damage !
Excess heat can cause your CPU to underperform in an effort to produce less heat, which means slower system performance. Excess heat can also shorten internal hard drive lifespans and cause batteries to lose total charging capacities.
What can you do about it?
- Get a laptop tray 5 of the Best Value Laptop Trays (and Why You Need One) 5 of the Best Value Laptop Trays (and Why You Need One) I used to be a laptop tray skeptic, but after trying one out, I’ve never been able to go back. Now I’m a believer. Here are the best laptop trays around! Read More and stop using your laptop on carpet, on bedding, on the couch, and even in your lap. Always place on a hard, flat surface to minimize dust intake.
- Get a laptop cooler to improve air flow. If you can’t buy one for a while, here are a few DIY ideas for cooling a laptop 5 Cool DIY Ways To Keep Your Laptop Cool 5 Cool DIY Ways To Keep Your Laptop Cool Read More . And yes, you need a cooler even with a tray.
- Install a temperature monitor These Laptop Computer Temperature Monitor Apps Could Save Your Hard Drive These Laptop Computer Temperature Monitor Apps Could Save Your Hard Drive Overheating is a leading cause of hardware failure. But heat can also make your computer slow. Use one of these apps to monitor and control the temperature of computer components. Read More so you can spot when your system is getting hot and shut down intensive apps (e.g. games, video editors, cryptominers) right away.
9. Customize System Settings
Now that all the maintenance-related tasks are out of the way, it’s time to make your laptop your own. Go ahead and tweak the system theme, desktop wallpaper, taskbar layout, etc.
Need some ideas?
- Personalize and customize Windows 10 Quick Ways to Customize & Personalize Windows 10 10 Quick Ways to Customize & Personalize Windows 10 Not all of Windows 10’s default settings will float your boat. We show you all the possible ways to customize Windows 10 in a simple, step-by-step guide. Read More , including the new Start Menu options 6 Ways to Hack & Customize the Windows 10 Start Menu 6 Ways to Hack & Customize the Windows 10 Start Menu The Windows 10 Start Menu combines classic elements with modern tiles. Tiles can add a lot of creative freedom. We’ll give you tips and reveal tricks for customizing the entire Start Menu to your preferences. Read More .
- Personalize and customize Mac Top 7 Ways to Personalize Your Mac Desktop Top 7 Ways to Personalize Your Mac Desktop Make your Mac more personal: change how applications, your desktop and the rest of OS X looks. Read More , including icons, wallpapers, and the Dock.
- Make Linux feel like home 12 Useful Tweaks To Make Ubuntu Feel Like Home 12 Useful Tweaks To Make Ubuntu Feel Like Home We’ll show you some great tweaks that can go a long way to achieving desktop zen. Read More , and even make Linux look like Mac Make Linux Look Like macOS With These Easy Tweaks Make Linux Look Like macOS With These Easy Tweaks If you like Linux but want it to look more like macOS, you’re in luck! Let us guide you through the steps to make your Linux desktop behave and look like Apple’s macOS. Read More !
Windows 10 users should also pay attention to these features worth disabling 9 Windows 10 Features You Can Safely Disable 9 Windows 10 Features You Can Safely Disable Windows 10 is packed with features, but a lot of them are unnecessary. Here’s how to safely prune unwanted features off your Windows 10 system for a more streamlined experience. Read More , these tweaks to make Windows 10 less annoying 10 More Windows 10 Features You Can Turn Off 10 More Windows 10 Features You Can Turn Off The Windows 10 Creators Update introduced a raft of new features, settings, and apps. We show you which features you can safely disable and improve your Windows experience. Read More , as well as removing these native advertisements 5 Places to Find & Disable Ads in Windows 10 5 Places to Find & Disable Ads in Windows 10 You shouldn’t have to put up with advertising in your operating system. Windows 10 features a few ads and promotions. We’ll show you where to find and how to get rid of them. Read More .
10. Install Your Favorite Apps
Now that your laptop is clean and ready to go, it’s time to install all the apps you think you’ll need. But before you go downloading a hundred different installer files, consider using Ninite .
Ninite creates a custom installer file based on which of the dozens of popular apps you pick and choose on the Ninite site. You then install all of them using that one single installer file. Make sure to keep the installer file for later — you can run it again at any time to update all of the apps too.
But there are many apps that aren’t available through Ninite, so we also recommend:
- Must-have apps for Windows systems New PC? 12 Must-Have Windows Applications You Should Install First New PC? 12 Must-Have Windows Applications You Should Install First If you just got a new computer, you might wonder which programs you need. We show you the 12 most essential and best Windows tools any user should install. Read More
- Must-have apps for Mac systems Bought Your First Mac? Install These 15 Apps Right Away Bought Your First Mac? Install These 15 Apps Right Away After you’re done admiring its sleek, shiny exterior, it’s time to get down to the business of installing applications on your brand new Mac. Read More
- Must-have apps for Linux systems 11 Must-Have Apps on Ubuntu Right After a Fresh Install 11 Must-Have Apps on Ubuntu Right After a Fresh Install Are you looking at a fresh installation of Ubuntu and feeling a bit lost? We’ve compiled this list of the first eleven applications you will need to install. Read More
11. Start Using a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) may sound daunting, but using one is simple: you just download and run an app. The app encrypts your connection, protects against eavesdroppers, lets you access region-blocked content, and makes it harder to trace web activity back to you.
Along with a host of other useful benefits 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using a VPN 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using a VPN Virtual Private Networks are affordable and easy to use. Along with a firewall and antivirus/anti-malware solution, here is exactly why you should have a VPN installed. Read More !
But VPN usage comes with a caveat: avoid using free VPNs whenever possible 5 Reasons You Need to Stop Using Free VPNs Right Now 5 Reasons You Need to Stop Using Free VPNs Right Now Free VPNs are very tempting, but hold on. If you’re thinking of signing up to one, you should read this article first. Here are the biggest risks with using a free VPN service. Read More . They can be useful, but there are other risks and costs associated with them — risks and costs that aren’t worth taking on, if you ask me. We recommend ExpressVPN or one of these other paid VPNs The Best VPN Services The Best VPN Services We’ve compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. Read More .
A Few More Tips for Your Laptop
With your laptop set up and ready to go, there are a few more things to know.
You won’t kill your laptop battery if you keep it plugged in all the time Should You Leave Your Laptop Plugged in All the Time? Should You Leave Your Laptop Plugged in All the Time? Is it better to keep your laptop plugged in, or use it on battery power? Turns out, the answer isn’t entirely straightforward. Let’s take a look. Read More , but it will lose total capacity faster if you do. For maximum lifespan, it’s best to alternate between battery and AC power, making sure to never fully discharge the battery.
It’s also important to mind your laptop-using posture Don’t Break Your Back: 5 Tips For Using A Laptop In Comfort Don’t Break Your Back: 5 Tips For Using A Laptop In Comfort Laptops are small, light and portable. They are also, in a strange twist of fate, often far more uncomfortable than the bulky desktops they replace. Being forced to place the screen, touchpad and keyboard in… Read More . It’s tempting to lay on your back or stomach, to slouch down, and to crane yourself into strange positions for moment-to-moment comfort — but poor posture can cause real bodily harm in the long run.
Lastly, bear these laptop maintenance tips 5 Laptop Maintenance Tips To Extend Its Life Expectancy 5 Laptop Maintenance Tips To Extend Its Life Expectancy Laptops are replaced every few years. We crave fancier hardware, novel features, and maybe our old device has become unresponsive and suffered some damage over time. Consequently, most laptops get thrown out prematurely. Unless you… Read More in mind as well as these performance-boosting tips 5 Ways To Improve Gaming Performance on Your Laptop 5 Ways To Improve Gaming Performance on Your Laptop Read More .
What kind of laptop did you get? How do you like it so far? Got any other first-time setup tips for new laptops that we missed? Share them with us in the comments below!
Image Credit: stockyimages via Shutterstock.com