There may be some new computers under the tree this year. Being tech support for family and friends I wanted to share my personal steps for setting up a new PC.
The steps begin at another PC by downloading and saving to a flash drive Avira's free for personal use antivirus software and Secunia's Personal Software Inspector (www.free-av.com and www.secunia.com).
When setting up the new PC we leave the network cable, if applicable, disconnected because a few things are done that leave the PC temporarily vulnerable. The computer is booted and we do the initial set up. Without a connection to the Web we cannot activate Windows yet. If asked to connect to a wireless network do not connect yet.
Next we go to Programs in the Control Panel and uninstall all the junk-ware, especially the promotional or trial versions, that shipped with the PC including the antivirus program. (Users that are unsure can wait and uninstall software at a later time.) We install Avira and then go back to the Control Panel and check the security settings. The system may report the antivirus is out of date, but we know that and it won't be out of date for long. We now connect the network cable and restart the PC (or just restart the PC and connect to a wireless network). Either way, the Web should now be accessible.
We activate the OS and then go straight to Windows Update for the most current system updates. When that's done we open Avira, update it and then install Secunia PSI and run it to bring all the third-party software up to date. The final step is to create a system restore point to save the current settings in case we must revert back to it in the future.
Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in computer 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.