Purchasing a new computer from a big box store can be a nightmare. The purchase price of a new laptop for example is only $449 but then the sales rep will tell you the computer needs to be configured and we will only charge you $100 to set it up for you. Then he will ask you if you would like to purchase extra warranty, and that only costs another $100. Now the purchase price is $649. Not such a good deal now is it? If something goes wrong during the warranty period you will have to send the system back to the manufacturer because they seldom repair the computer on site. You could be without your computer for up to two months. Will they give you a loaner system in the meantime? No, they will not.
Here is some advise, buy the system from a reputable certified technician. The technician’s price will obviously be a tad higher than the big box store because they can’t compete with the quantity purchases but you will receive a lot more benefits by doing so. Most certified computer technicians buy quality products and you will reap the benefits. How do you find a reputable back yard technician? Take a look through the classified section in your local newspaper, there are technicians advertising in the paper daily. Give the tech a call and ask them if they are certified, if not move on to the next one until you are comfortable with one. Call your friends and ask them what computer geek they use. Buying from a certified computer tech is a smart purchasing decision.
Let’s get back to the big box store for a minute. Remember they told you that they will have to setup the computer and there is a $100 charge for that service. Yes, they do this unethical procedure as shown here.
Did you know that you could do all of this yourself? It will take you approximately an hour and a half to do what they did. Here is what they do contrary to what they tell you.
After windows is finished gathering information from the end user (you) third party “Trial” software will then be installed. Software such as Norton’s Anti Virus and Microsoft Office home and student edition. Next the system will ask you if you would like to burn an image of the install onto DVD Disc. If you select yes, and you should select yes, be prepared to wait another 20 minutes for the image to burn. That is it people, you are now done.
Your new computer still will not perform the way it should. You now have the task of fine tuning your new computer system and these important steps should not be eliminated.
Now that you have completed most of what the big box store should have done there are some things you need to pay some special attention to. You may have noticed a persistent message, “Windows Needs Your Permission To Continue”, appearing as you were performing the above tasks. This is the (UAC) User Account Control feature that is new in Vista. I highly recommend turning this feature off temporarily to achieve the above tasks. After you have accomplished everything I advise turning it back on. It will prevent rogue software (such as viruses) from installing on your machine. It will not stop all viruses but it will stop some.
The next task you should complete is how your machine is setup to view files. All computers you purchase from big box stores and some smaller computer retailers never optimize the system for file viewing. It is no wonder numerous people end up getting a virus the first week they have a new system, how do they expect you to know what a certain file is without viewing the extension of the file. How do you delete cached data if you can’t see the folder? Read about how to view hidden files and how to view file extensions in Windows operating systems. Now you will be able to see file extensions on your computer and view hidden files and folders.
Are we done yet? Not quite, there are a few more things we need to do, such as setup our email account. Follow these instructions for setting up your email account using Microsoft Outlook. Vista has windows mail which is very similar to the old outlook express, follow these instructions for setting up email using outlook express.
The backup program that came with your computer will only make an image of the original install that came with your computer. The image will have all the trial software in it that we just removed and will not save the options we just invoked. Therefore the next thing you should do is download a program like New Acronis True Image Home 2011. Upgrade for only $29.99! and make a backup of your entire windows installation, so that you never have to do this again. Save the backup in a folder on your computer called “Acronis Backup” so you know what it is. The best thing to do is buy an external hard drive and save the image onto that, this way the image is protected from viruses at all times. It may cost an extra $100 for the backup drive but it will be well worth it. I suggest only using this backup drive for the Acronis images and nothing else. You will not need a 500GB drive to accomplish this, an 80GB drive will be more than enough.
In a future article I will show you how to get all of your data from the old computer onto the new one? This is something that big box stores will not tell you. Technicians like myself will do this free of charge if you purchase the new system from them, or they will do it for a nominal fee if there is a ton of stuff to do.
Read more about Smart Computer Buying Assistance.