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Five things you should do first when you get a new computer

So you just got a new computer, and you are ready to go. You're going to install programs and transfer files to it. But before you go personalizing it, there are a few things you should do first. Here are five things you should do first when you get a new computer.

Five things you should do first when you get a new computer

Register your new computer

Here's one that almost everyone post-pones until a later time, including myself. The problem with that is we never get around to it; we just keep putting it off. But if something ever goes wrong with your new computer, you will be glad you did. This is one of those 'do it right now' items. Then you can forget all about it and hope you never need it.

Make the recovery media

If your computer came with recovery disks, you're lucky. Most don't. If your computer did not come with recovery media, you will have to make it yourself. Most computer manufacturers load disk images (files) of these disks on the hard drive to save money and require the owner to create the media. You'll only have to do this once, and in most cases, you will need 2 - 5 blank DVD's.

Each computer manufacturer uses a different name for this program, so look for something like 'Recovery Media Creator'. To find the program used to make the recovery media, just go to Start > All Programs and look for a folder that has Maintenance and/or Recovery in the name. Or it could be in a folder with the manufacturer's name.

If for some reason, the media creation fails, you can always contact the manufacturer for assistance. Having registered your product will help simplify the process. I've seen manufacturers send out recovery media when the owner could not make it. But the key here is to do this now, not in a couple of years when you need the recovery media. Manufacturers are more likely to help while the computer is under warranty. Once you have your recovery disks, please put them in a safe place.

Verify used and free space with Checkdisk

Computers can come with two (2) types of drives, Solid State Drive (SSD) and Hard Disk Drive (HDD). Like Dell and HP, most computer vendors will pre-load hard drives with the operating system and Master File Table (MFT). SSD's will automatically adjust the MFT where HDD's do not. You have to do this manually on an HDD by running Checkdisk. Checkdisk will verify where the files and free space are on the drive and update the MFT. Here's how to do it.

Windows 10 Checkdisk

Windows 8 Checkdisk

Windows 7 / Windows Vista Checkdisk

Windows XP Checkdisk

Get the latest Windows updates

You might think that your new computer is up to date, being brand new. But the fact is you don't know when the manufacturer made the operating system image used on your hard drive. Windows 8 had updates available before it even went on sale. Run Windows Update to check for updates; odds are there are some available. You may have to run Windows Update more than once to get all of the updates. But doing it right now will get your new computer entirely up to date before you start installing your programs.

Activate or install anti-virus software

Almost all computer manufacturers will pre-install some anti-virus software. It's usually only a 30 to 60-day trial subscription and will run out before you know it. If you plan on keeping it, buy a full subscription now and be done with it. If you want to use some other anti-virus software, now is the time to switch. Remember to uninstall the anti-virus software that came with your new computer before installing any other. Having two or more anti-virus programs running on the same computer will significantly decrease the performance.

Check your hard drive for errors in Windows 8

Keeping your hard drive free from errors is essential to the performance of your Windows 8 computer. When it comes to computer repair, this is one of the first things I do. So, if your experiencing problems opening an application or file, it may be time to check your hard drive for errors with Windows 8 built-in disk checking utility, CHKDSK (Check Disk).

There are two ways to run CHKDSK, standard, and advanced. Here are the procedures for both.

Standard hard drive error checking in Windows 8

  1. Go to the Start menu.
  2. Right-click the Start menu background to bring up the app commands.
  3. Select 'All apps'.
  4. Scroll to the 'File Explorer' tile and left-click on it.
  5. Left-click on 'Computer'.
  6. Right-click the hard drive that you want to check, and then click 'Properties'.
  7. Click the 'Tools' tab, and then, under 'Error-checking', click 'Check Now'. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  8. Select 'Scan drive'.

Advanced hard drive error checking in Windows 8

  1. Open a Command Prompt with Administrative privileges (click here for instructions)
  2. Use the following command-line syntax(s) and parameter(s) to run CHKDSK:

CHKDSK [volume[[path]filename]]] [/F] [/V] [/R] [/X] [/I] [/C] [/L[:size]] [/B]
[/scan] [/spotfix]

volume Specifies the drive letter (followed by a colon), mount point, or volume name.
filename FAT/FAT32 only: Specifies the files to check for fragmentation.
/F Fixes errors on the disk.
/V On FAT/FAT32: Displays the full path and name of every file on the disk. On NTFS: Displays cleanup messages, if any.
/R Locates bad sectors and recovers readable information (implies /F, when /scan not specified).
/L:size NTFS only: Changes the log file size to the specified number of kilobytes. If a size is not specified, it displays the current size.
/X Forces the volume to dismount first if necessary. All opened handles to the volume would then be invalid (implies /F).
/I NTFS only: Performs a less vigorous check of index entries.
/C NTFS only: Skips checking of cycles within the folder structure.
/B NTFS only: Re-evaluates bad clusters on the volume (implies /R)
/scan NTFS only: Runs an online scan on the volume
/forceofflinefix NTFS only: (Must be used with "/scan") Bypass all online repair; all defects found are queued for offline repair (i.e. "chkdsk /spotfix").
/perf NTFS only: (Must be used with "/scan") Uses more system resources to complete a scan as fast as possible. This may have a negative performance impact on other tasks running on the system.
/spotfix NTFS only: Runs spot-fixing on the volume
/sdcleanup NTFS only: Garbage collects unneeded security descriptor data (implies /F).
/offlinescanandfix Runs an offline scan and fix on the volume.

The /I or /C switch reduces the amount of time required to run CHKDSK by skipping certain volume checks.

My five favorite tips for maintaining your Windows computer

Updated April 21, 2023

One of the questions I often get asked is, "What can I do to maintain my computer". So in this article, I am going to share my five favorite tips for maintaining your Windows-based computer.

Regularly check your drive(s) for errors

This is one of the first things I do when I get a system in the shop. An error on the disk can cause all sorts of issues, so occasionally running a quick standard disk check is recommended. It is always best to try fixing any errors before they become huge problems.

For more information on how to perform a checkdisk, select your operating system below.

How to check your drive(s) for errors in Windows 11

How to check your drive(s) for errors in Windows 10

How to check your drive(s) for errors in Windows 8.1

How to check your drive(s) for errors in Windows 7 / Windows Vista

How to check your drive(s) for errors in Windows XP

Manually defragment and optimize your drive(s)

Even though Windows runs Defrag as part of the routine maintenance (usually weekly), you can always occasionally run it, as it is probably the best single thing you can do to speed up your computer. Imagine a filing cabinet where all of the folders were out of order and files were misplaced throughout the cabinet. How could you find anything? Same thing with your computer's drive. Disk Defragmenter takes care of that for you. And you can run it as a scheduled task too.

Select your operating system below for more information on how to use Disk Defragmenter.

How to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows 11

How to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows 10

How to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows 8.1

How to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows 7

How to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows Vista

How to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows XP

Clean up your drive(s) regularly

Now, Windows does include programs to clean up the miscellaneous files that build up over time, but by default, it is not set up to run automatically. You can set up Windows to perform these routine tasks, which include deleting temporary files and emptying the Recycle Bin.

For more information on how to use Disk Cleanup and Storage Sense, select your operating system below.

How to clean up your drive in Windows 11

How to clean up your drive in Windows 10

How to clean up your drive in Windows 8.1

How to clean up your drive in Windows 7 / Windows Vista

Install Windows updates when they become available

Once a month, Microsoft releases security patches called Cumulative Updates. They fix known security issues and should be applied as soon as possible. Microsoft has been using the same schedule for
releasing them for decades now. The second Tuesday of every month is known in the IT world as 'Patch Tuesday', so mark your calendar. And if, for some reason, Windows Update does not work correctly, click on the link below.

Troubleshooting problems with Windows Update

Backup of your computer on a regular schedule

Nothing can beat a complete backup when it comes to getting a computer back running after a drive failure. Sure, a drive failure is an extreme example, but it could be an update that did not install correctly or a corrupt driver that is preventing your system from booting correctly. And the software is already built-in; all you need is an external drive for the backup and a USB flash drive for a repair drive.

How to backup your Windows 11 computer

How to backup your Windows 10 computer

How to backup your Windows 8.1 computer

How to backup your Windows 7 / Windows Vista computer

How to backup your Windows XP computer

Check your hard disk for errors in Windows Vista and Windows 7

You can help solve some computer problems and improve your computer's performance by making sure that your hard disk has no errors.

Click on the Start button.

Click on Computer.

Right-click the hard disk drive that you want to check, and then click Properties.

Click the Tools tab, and then, under Error-checking, click Check Now. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

To automatically repair problems with files and folders that the scan detects, select Automatically fix file system errors. Otherwise, the disk check will report problems but not fix them.

To perform a thorough disk check, select Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors. This scan attempts to find and repair physical errors on the hard disk itself, and it can take much longer to complete.

To check for both file errors and physical errors, select both Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors.

Click Start.

Depending upon the size of your hard disk, this may take several minutes. For the best results, please don't use your computer for any other tasks while it's checking for errors.

Note:
If you select Automatically fix file system errors for a disk in use (for example, the partition that contains Windows), you'll be prompted to reschedule the disk check for the next time you restart your computer.

Detecting and repairing disk errors in Windows XP

You can use the Error-checking tool to check for errors and bad sectors on your hard disk.

  • Open My Computer, and then select the local disk you want to check.
  • On the File menu, click Properties.
  • On the Tools tab, under Error-checking, click Check Now.
  • Under Check disk options, select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors checkbox.

Notes

  • To open My Computer, double-click the My Computer icon on the desktop.
  • All files must be closed for this process to run. If the volume is currently in use, a message box will appear, prompting you to indicate whether or not you want to reschedule the disk checking for the next time you restart your system. Then, the next time you restart your system, disk checking will run. Your volume will not be available to perform other tasks while this process is running.
  • If your volume is formatted as NTFS, Windows automatically logs all file transactions, replaces bad clusters, and stores copies of crucial information for all NTFS volume files.

Free computer diagnostics

Repairing a PC can sometimes be expensive, and that is why we offer free basic in-shop diagnostics. Give one of our professional and experienced technicians a call at (602) 795-1111, and let's see what we can do for you.

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Here at Geeks in Phoenix, we take pride in providing excellent customer service. We aim to give the highest quality of service  from computer repair, virus removal, and data recovery.

Bring your computer to us and save

Repairing a computer can be time-consuming. That is why we base our in-shop service on the time we work on your computer, not the time it takes for your computer to work! From running memory checking software to scanning for viruses, these are processes that can take some time.

Contact us

If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call at (602) 795-1111  and talk with one of our Geeks. Or you can send us a message from our contact page , and one of our Geeks will get back to you as soon as possible. Or you can stop by and see us. Here are our hours and location.

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