WARNING for Windows 8. Read before turning on new computer.
Microsoft is really trying hard to get you to use their OneCloud storage system, so much so they make it very difficult to do the initial setup of a Windows 8 workstation without it. Read the article Install Windows 8 without installing OneCloud before you turn on a new computer to decide for yourself whether you want this.
Back to installation information
Many workstations and laptops come with Microsoft Windows installed. This is good, since a "normal" user does not have to go through the pain and agony of doing the install themselves, but most manufacturers install additional programs that really kill the efficiency of the system. This is called "bloatware" in the industry.
This document describes how we at Daily Data clean up these systems before putting them into production for our users.
Remove Installed Anti-virus
Some anti-virus manufacturers, notably Symantec (Norton) and Macafee, base a large portion of their sales on having their product installed on new computers. I believe they then pay a portion of the subscription to the manufacturer.
Unfortunately, these are not only not the best deals for the end user, but they are also at the lower end of the good systems. My personal theory is they can not get anyone to buy their product any other way, so they have to do this to get an inferior product put on the uneducted user.
Immediately remove any and all products from Macafee, Symantec and/or Norton.
To protect your computer, use one of the following products:
- Kasperski Anti-Virus - http://usa.kaspersky.com/ Historically, the best anti-virus program available for Windows workstations.
- AVG Anti-Virus - http://free.avg.com/us-en/free-downloads A very good anti-virus program, and you can get a free version if you search hard enough (free for personal use only)
- Avast! Anti-Virus - http://www.avast.com/en-us/index Very good anti-virus, again with a free version for personal use (called "Essential")
Remove any software with the manufacturers name on it
For example, I recently set up a system for a client which came from Toshiba. These are good little computers, and I am not picking on them as the same is true for Asus, Lenovo and Dell. Every one of these manufacturers want your information, and they want to tie you to their product, so they include several programs to make it easier for them to be contacted by you.
However, many of these programs run continuously in the background, and the memory and CPU (brain) is being used for no help for you. This really slows a lot of fairly good computers down.
Remove other programs you won't use
New computers come with all sorts of programs you will not use. If you don't use Skype, why not get rid of it. If you ever want to use Skype in the future, simply download and install it then. Sometimes, there will be "free" copies of Microsoft Office, but you can only use them for a short period of time before you must purchase it. Remove all of that stuff. You will be surprised at how much faster your computer will run.
Replace existing "trial" programs with Free/Open Source alternatives
Many of the programs you see on a new computer are trials; they are installed in hopes you will try them for a while, then pay to actually use them. There are many Open Source programs which are free; you simply download and install them. Following is a list of some of these:
- LibreOffice (https://www.libreoffice.org/) -- An alternative to Microsoft Office that is better in many cases. It will even read and write Microsoft Office documents and create PDF's of your documents if you like.
- GnuCash (http://www.gnucash.org/) - A very nice accounting package that does most of what indiidual users want. It can even be used in some small businesses.
- GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) (http://www.gimp.org/) - A very good photo and image processing program similar to Adobe Photoshop. It has a very different interface (the way you interact with it), so may be difficult for current Photoshop users to get used to, but the power is there.
- Mozilla Thunderbird (http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/) - If you do not use webmail exclusively, chances are you have one of the limited versions of a Microsoft e-mail program (Outlook) on your computer. Thunderbird is much better about handling IMAP e-mail, but it's calendaring system is only available through the Lightning addon.
Add alternative web browsers
Microsoft ships with its web browser, Internet Explorer. However, there are many problems with this browser, not the least of which several recorded malware infections traced to its use. Add other web browsers and try them out. Many people get completely away from it and use one or more of the following free programs exclusively.
- Mozilla Firefox (http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/)
- Google Chrome (https://www.google.com/chrome/browser/)
Now, install all Windows updates, reboot your computer, and see how much faster (and more stable) your new computer is.