Setting Up a New Computer

Congratulations on your new computer. Chances are very good this is not your first computer. This is how to move from the old computer to the new.

Start with the Old Computer

Assuming your old computer has not bitten the dust, get yourself a large USB drive or a USB Hard drive. The little pocket sized USB drives can be found up to 16Gb pretty easily. An attached hard drive is going to start at 320Gb and go to 2Tb. Yes, it is about $80 for a 500Gb to 1Tb drive. The good news is you can use it to back up your new system after you transfer your files.

If you use Firefox or Chrome, or any other browser other than IE, find the bookmark manager and export your bookmarks to an html file. Save this to either your desktop or my documents.

Download a copy of Belarc Advisor and run it. This will tell you what programs are installed on your current computer. Print out this report and start looking at the programs installed. It is time to decide what is going on the new computer. If you have not played CivII in about three years, maybe it does not need to make the trip. Do you have the install media for these programs? Can you find or download copies? Now would be a good time to find out.

You found your Office CDs but not the product key. Now what? The Belarc Advisor report might have the correct keys. It depends on the program. CD Key Reader will read your MS Office keys so you can reinstall it on your new computer. Is your copy of Office “borrowed” from an old employer? Now would be the time to come clean and buy yourself a copy.

Also mark those free downloads that you like. Three months from now you are going to want that stopwatch thingy and remember you don't have it any more.

You have everything saved either in my documents or on the desktop? Good. Now attach your USB drive and get ready to copy.
If you are using Windows XP, go to C:\Documents and Settings\and look at the user names. For each user on the computer, you want to create a folder on the USB drive and copy the My Documents folder, the Favorites folder and the Desktop folder to the USB drive.

If you have Windows 7, the users are in C:\Users. Also My Documents are broken down into Documents, Pictures, Music, and Video. Copy all of them, even if you think they are blank.

Turn off your old computer and save the main unit. Now set up your new computer.

What Windows are you running?

Some companies install 32 bit operating systems on 64bit computers. This allows them to lower the price by $50-100. It works fine, Except, when you are installing programs. Then you want to know if you need the 32 bit or 64 bit version first. The best way to tell is to go to computer on the start menu and right click on Computer and go to Properties. In Windows 8, you need the System Information App. Look for the Windows version.

The difference between Home and Professional is that Home will not connect to a domain. If you will be using new computer for work, you may need Professional. Your work IT staff can tell you. If work is providing you with a computer, chances are it has Professional on it. If “connect to a domain” sounds totally strange to you, Home should be fine.

If you and your new laptop are going to college, ask and find out if you need Professional. They should know.

Getting Started

What to Keep/What to toss

Thankfully, new computer don't come with nearly as much crap as they used to. Still, take a look at what came out of the box.

What to Get Rid Of

The first thing is to remove the software you do not need or want. Start by downloading Revo Uninstaller installing it and starting it. The Revo Uninstaller does a much better job than the built-in Windows uninstaller (the Windows 7 uninstaller works better than XP. But Microsoft decided it should be in “Programs and Features” because “Add/Remove Programs was too difficult.

When you start Revo Uninstaller, it will catalog all of the programs you have installed on your computer. Revo Uninstaller runs the programs built-in uninstaller, then scans the registry for left over entries and then scans the hard drive for undeleted program files. All things the supplied uninstaller by the publisher or Microsoft can do.

Things to look out for:
Trial anything. This includes MS Office and anti-virus software. Check out the prices and what you get for moving to the free version. At the same time think about the free alternatives.

Go through the list of programs, Some manufacturers add their own remote help or other software. This would include HP support, Acer backup, and so on. Chances are, you do not need these at all, or there are better working programs available. You can always Google the name of the program and see if it is something you will need. There are some programs that you may not know you have that you will need to run the computer. One of these is Bonjour. Bonjour is a connection program that Apple installs with iTunes. If you are not sure if you need the program, keep it. You can always delete it later.

Next delete any anti-virus programs. Chances are you have either Norton Anti-Virus or Symantec. The saddest thing is these are two of the more expensive anti-virus solutions and neither have finished better than middle of the pack in performance in years. Also, both will slow your computer down about 15% or so. Or, about as bad as the spyware they should be blocking. Look out, Norton Anti-virus is actually two programs, the AV and LiveUpdate. You will need to remove them both.

In the next steps you can install Microsoft Defender. A pretty good, free anti-virus program.

What to Install

Now that you have removed a bunch of stuff that you do not need, what are you going to need?

If you are going to run MS Office, install it now. If you are going to run the Office trial version, you are good.

Run Windows Update. Yes this is a brand new computer. It is possible that it has sat on the shelf for a while. Run Windows Update with the custom option and keep running it until you have all of the critical updates, all of the hardware updates, and the optional updates you want. Reboot your computer as many times as it says to. After each reboot, return to Windows Update and check for more updates. Do this until Windows Update shows no more updates.

Install the Browser of your choice. I like Firefox. I use Chrome as well. I am still not a fan of Internet Explorer although it does work with more web sites than it used to.

Next go to and download Reader and Flash player, You do not need Adobe Air, but it will not hurt.

Next install iTunes and or QuickTime. Go to and download iTunes+QuickTime or just QuickTime.

Finally, Install Java Download Java. It seems like Java updates every week. So be it. That is also why you do it last.

Copying Your Old Stuff

When you first started your new computer, you created a user account. Now create user accounts for everyone who will use the new computer. Log in as that user. This will create the Users directory with the right folders for each user. Now attach the USB device with the files from the old computer. As the Administrator or the first user created, copy the files carefully from the USB device to the appropriate folders in C:\Users\ on the new computer. You can copy them by the folder and set more than one copy job at a time. Do not be surprised if it runs much quicker than it did copying to the USB drive.

Are you more advanced?

For about $20.00 you can buy a hard drive external case. This will allow you to take the hard drive out of your old computer and attach it to your new computer via USB. You can then copy everything over. As a bonus, once you have everything copied over, you can delete the Windows and Program Files directories and have a nice fat USB drive to backup to.

The Bad News

You cannot use this method to install your old programs on the new computer. You need to run the installer for each program to install them. Sorry.

I Don't Have a CD Drive, How do I Load Software?

With a USB drive. Get a USB drive with at least 1Gb of free space. It is pretty hard to find anything else these days. Using a computer with a CD drive, insert the USB drive and open it in 'My Computer.' Now insert the installer CD in your CD drive. Do not start the installer! Open 'My Computer' again and right click on the CD drive and choose explore. You should see all of the files on the CD. Copy all of the files from the CD to the USB drive. While the files are coping, create a text file on the USB drive and write the serial number in the text file. You can now install the program to the netbook without a CD drive.