Getting a new computer for Christmas? Here are a few things to consider before surfing the Internet.
Before dismantling the old computer, take a few minutes to download the latest version of your favorite anti-virus software and burn to a disk or copy to a flash drive. I like Avira (www.free-av.com) and have used it for years with great success.
Tear down the old PC and set up the new one but do not plug in the network cable yet. Boot the computer and go through the initial set up but hold off on activating Windows when asked to do so - the network cable is unplugged so there is no connection to the Web.
Now, remove the junk the manufacturer shipped with the PC. Uninstall anything that is promotional or trial that is not personally useful. If you do not plan to use something, go to the Control Panel find the "Add/Remove Programs" area and uninstall it.
Next, install the anti-virus software and check the security settings for the firewall. Don't restart the system - just power it down, hook up the network cable and boot it back up. The Web should now be accessible.
Activate the OS and then go straight to Windows Update to get the most current updates for the system. When done updating the OS do the same for the anti-virus program. Avira makes it easy with a single pop-up being the only price to pay for this gem.
With the OS and AV up to date it is time to install the peripherals. A trip to the manufacturer's Web site (device's manufacturer) may be necessary to get the latest drivers especially if Windows XP was the previous OS. Windows Update may be able to help with certain devices.
Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in company repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at email@example.com.