Setting up a new computer for my clients

Many times my home and small business clients take it on themselves to get there own computers,  Some box store has a sale, or an office manager thinks he can save a couple of bucks buy getting PCs from an office store. The good news is that they usually call me in to get the new machines up and running.  So I thought let me go through setting up a new machine for my clients. 
Note since were talking about new machines via a retailer we are going to be using windows 8, since that is whats on the store shelves right now. 

Get your COA

Before you turn the machine on, before you get your install disk to together, or cables find your “Certificate of Authenticity.”  It should be on the bottom of most laptops, sometimes its in the battery compartment, on your desktop is should be on the sides or in the back. Basically it’s never in a good place and you might need it down the line. (reloading, activation)  Also while your at it grabbing the exact make, model and serial number is also a good idea. I usually grab stuff like that with my smart phone camera. That way I can email the pictures to the clients or upload it to my one-drive bottom line its recorded and someplace safe. 

Setting up a new local account for me
Hook up the machine and take it though its standard MS setup, licenses, and activating. I almost always setup a local account for me to access. This is mostly to get to get the machine online and to let me get to work. This account can be deleted later or can be kept if we are doing remote support.  Also at this point I make sure that the when asked that sharing is enabled on the network. (Switching from a public to a private network in Windows 7 was easy in Windows 8 they burred that setting someplace. Probably in that warehouse that holds the “lost ark”)
Install the 8.1 update
I talked about this in a previous post “Why we hate 8” The update is murder and takes a lot of time to download.  Also before the 8.1 update can be pulled down the machine need might need to download other updates first. While this happens I can check with the client about what they would like installed, (AOL, iTunes, Chrome, etc) if I need to get data off an old machine, and to find the drivers for any hardware that you need to connect to later. (Printers scanners, etc, I normally download them from the manufactures website and have them staged on a thumb drive)
When you buy a computer from a big retailer its going to have stuff on it that you have no idea what it is, or where it came from. Trial versions of financial software, extra games, temp version of antivirus and backup software, most of this is junk just trying to get you to dump more money into your computer.  Life Hacker did a great piece recently about getting rid of bloatware.

Also I go through the programs a features menu and turn off a few things. Unless the computer is a tablet or a convertible it does not need the tablet PC components, Also I usually turn off the fax components. (who faxes? and if you still are stop)  Be warned if you don’t know what something is don’t mess with it. 

Install hardware
Now its time to hook up the printers, scanners, and anything else that the client needs to connect too. The good news is that this is normally the easiest step. Most of the time you hook up a device and windows update can find and load the drivers. Only thing with some all in one printers mostly (HP and Brothers) take the time to download the software form the manufactures site to enable all the really cool bells and whistles for the machine. 
Install the software
Now its time to get the programs installed.  MS office (Yes that can be a chore itself but it give you a chance to setup or recover the MS account for the client) also a full version of AV if the client does not want to use Windows Defender. I also like to make sure that Adobe reader, Java and adobe Flash are installed.  (mostly because there going to get bugged to install them down the line usually with extra toolbar)  Also if they prefer another browser (Chrome or FireFox) this is the time for that. 
Now its time for user accounts
Depending on the client we can either get there MS account added to the machine setup a local account or if its a business network connect the machine to a domain and load the network user. Honestly I am not a big fan of the MS account. It has some advantages of holding onto your settings and can be handy if you hop from PC to PC, but for a home user its just one more password for them to remember.  So I usually setup a local account FOR EVERY USER! and log on to each one to create the profile.  Then I migrate the data from the old computer (if applicable).  This is also the time when I can show the users the useful and interesting things they can do with there new computer. 

Test drive time
This is when I usually let the client take the machine for a bit.  Mostly to let them tell me what’s missing.  We create shortcuts to what they need. I show them where their documents and pictures are, and help them get a desktop background of there dog.  Also we find out whats missing, normally it’s something like an email password, or a program shortcut. The idea is to make the PC was easy for the user as I can.

Yes this was a long post!  Also yes this is a lot of work and a lot of time to do it right. This is where I like to leave my clients. I want them to get the most out of there new computer. Now if you are getting a new machine and would rather not do this all yourself let us help. Lanterns Light LLC is happy to get your new computers setup for you, all the way from the sealed box to you schooling your friends in Puzzle Pirates.


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