Friday, August 17, 2007

Set up a new PC

How to set up a new PC as safely as possible

Setting up a new PC in the right way can prevent problems later.

Why set up a new computer securely?

Just taking a new computer out of the box and plugging it into the internet is not safe, without taking precautions.

Consider getting expert help to set up your computer for the first time so that you start off as you mean to go on: safe and secure.

Don’t forget to dispose of the computer packaging in a discreet way so that it doesn’t advertise the fact that you’ve got a new computer to burglars.

Step 1: Don’t connect to the Internet yet

On a broadband internet connection, an unprotected computer can be infected within ten minutes.

Step 2: Switch on the firewall

A firewall will stop hackers finding and penetrating your computer.

If your new computer comes with Windows XP Service Pack 2 already installed, the firewall should be switched on by default but you can check by going to the Windows Firewall control panel and checking there.

If your computer is running Windows XP but not Service Pack 2 (unlikely), you will not be able to see the Windows Firewall control panel. In this case you should either:

  • Buy a commercial firewall on CD and install it before connecting to the internet or
  • Download a free firewall program on a safe computer, copy it to a CD and install it on your new computer (see Use a firewall).
  • Download the full version of Windows XP Service Pack 2 on a safe computer, copy it to a CD and install it on your new computer. Alternatively, ask your computer seller for a copy of Service Pack 2 on disk or order a copy of Service Pack 2 from Microsoft by post, but allow 4-6 weeks for delivery. Nearly all new computers ship with Service Pack 2 already installed.

Step 3: Install anti-virus software

  • Anti-virus software will protect your computer from viruses, trojans and worms.
  • You should have anti-virus software running before you connect to the internet.
  • Some new computers come with a limited-time trial version of some anti-virus software. Check that this is running.
  • If your computer doesn’t have any anti-virus software installed, you should buy some and install it before connecting to the internet.
  • For more information see Install anti-virus software.

Step 4: Connect and update

You’re ready to connect to the internet now. However, you still can’t go browsing. The first job is to get all the latest updates and patches.

With a broadband connection, you may be downloading updates for half an hour or so and your computer may need to be restarted once or twice. With a dial-up connection, it may take longer. Be patient – don’t start using the internet until all this protection is in place.

Step 5: Subscribe

Make sure that any trial anti-virus licence that came with your computer doesn’t run out. Either pay for an annual subscription or buy another anti-virus program. Under no circumstances operate your computer without up-to-date virus protection.

Step 6: Learn more

The steps are only the foundation of online safety. There are other things you need to know and do to be fully protected. This website contains lots of useful information that will help you.

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