If you’re new to the Windows 10 operating system, here are a few tips to make your life easier and your computer use more productive. Taking just a little time to set up your computer now can save you a lot of headache down the road.
1. Do some button mashing
Create strong passwords. Although memorable, a pet’s name or street address just won’t cut it. Strong passwords keep your computer files safe and hackers out. Besides that, they’re easy to create and simple to manage.
Use a combination of random letters, symbols, and numbers. There’s no better time for button mashing than in password creation. A few swipes at the keyboard and voila, you will have created a masterpiece: *(23nMKO3t5#. The password is virtually un-guessable.
Passwords are only useful if you can remember them when you need them, so be sure to write your passwords down on paper or save them in a password-protected computer file or password manager for personal reference and security.
2. Rescue Robinson Crusoe
No PC is an island—connect to the internet. Your computer works best when it’s connected to the world wide web. An internet connection allows you to access critical updates that keep your computer running smoothly and safely.
Windows 10 has a basic internet security program called Windows Defender. Be sure to enable it before connecting to the internet.
3. Renovate your windows
Once you’re connected to the internet, you’ll want to acquire the latest security updates to keep you safe online. In the search bar at the bottom left of your screen, search “check for updates” (see below). The option to check for updates will appear in the search results. Clicking it will open your System Settings and allow you to update your PC.
4. Chrome, Firefox, or Edge
Many programs exist for browsing the internet. Different browsers can operate at different speeds and have their own unique advantages. Chrome, Firefox, and Edge are good choices. I personally recommend Chrome because if you own a Gmail account (an email account through Google), then Chrome links to your email and provides access to a host of Google Apps like Google Docs, Calendar, Maps, and Google Drive.
5. Where’s Waldo
Organize your files. Nothing’s worse than losing your red hat and striped shirt in last week’s laundry. Find a good home for any old files you may have transported from your old PC to your new one, and create a plan for organizing new files in the future.
Open File Explorer to browse Windows 10’s built-in file organization system. Under the Quick Access Bar, you’ll find a list of folders to which you can easily navigate.
Click on My Documents, for instance, and create new folders within it to group your files into even more specific categories and subcategories. Within My Documents, right click in a blank space. From the drop-down menu that appears, select New > Folder. After you create and name your folder, you can fill it with files. Files stored in folders with recognizable names will be easier to find later.
6. Use a green mushroom
Backup your computer files. Second tries are a life-saver. A backup copy of all your files and programs can help you recover critical information if your computer is lost, stolen, or crashes. Be sure to backup your email and contacts as well.
Many backup programs exist. Some are free. Others may require membership or purchase. Cloud-based backup systems are affordable and convenient. However, if you are not comfortable entrusting sensitive documents or personal files to a remotely located computer server, an external hard drive may be the better choice for you. External hard drives give you the most control, physically and digitally, over where and how your information is stored.
7. Gone “phishing”
Free downloads, sketchy websites, suspicious emails—they can be big, shiny hooks. Be careful what you click online and in your email. Computer hackers have myriad ways to target and steal your information. Setup security software and run anti-virus and spyware scans regularly. At Kramden, we use the built-in Windows Defender along with Malwarebytes.
Smart web browsing can also reduce the need for expensive security software. Learn how to recognize a hook when you see one.
8. To buy or not to buy
Now that your computer is in good working order, install essential Apps and software. Depending on what your needs are, you may want to install Microsoft Office for word processing and reports or you may need PowerPoint to create presentations.
Before buying that expensive software, however, check out free, safe applications that allow you to create very similar presentations and documents, but without the price tag.
9. Home sweet home
For easy access, give your favorite programs a home on the taskbar. To do this, simply open one of your favorite applications, locate its icon on the taskbar, right-click, and select pin to taskbar to give it a permanent home where you can always see it.