How to train a new computer, part 1

I have a new computer, a laptop. It is going to be my primary computer, a desktop replacement. While I have way too many a few other machines, setting them up has been pretty easy: Install a word processor, a web browser, maybe some movies and tunes, and off I go. I've had the same desktop machine for about five years.

 
This computer, by the way, will not pee on the floor or chew my newspaper, and I will never need to take it for a walk. Take that, Meg.

 

But because I will unplug the desktop machine when I finish getting this one ready, I have to approach it a little more carefully. I have to think about how much room I have, what software to install on the new machine from the old one, and what to leave behind. And make a few other decisions, too.
 
So in case you find yourself with a new computer, here are some suggestions that I hope you find helpful.

 

First (if your new computer is a laptop): Resist the temptation to start using your computer right away. Instead, charge the battery all the way. I put mine on the charger when I left for an appointment before lunch and when I got back, the battery was fully charged. It took about two hours.

Next: Most likely your machine will ask you to do an initial system backup. Do this. It will take some time, but do it. Mine takes four DVDs. I do not like that manufacturers have shifted the responsibility for creating backup discs to the buyer. This used to be their job and still should be. But if I don’t do it and the hard drive crashes, it’s my own fault.

 

The first disc I did took almost an hour. It got faster after that, but the total still was more than two and a half hours. But then it’s done and if I have to start from scratch, I have the installation discs that the manufacturer should have included.
 
Mark those discs and put them somewhere obvious, so you can find them if you need them.

(If you do get backup or restore discs, you can safely skip this task, but that’s rare. I will also make a copy of the drive soon that I'll keep separate and back up every so often. More on that later.)

Also: Some computer manufacturers will create two partitions on the hard drive, using one for software installation and a second for data storage.

My new laptop was set up this way, the 640-gig hard drive split into one using 25 percent for programs and another using 75 percent for storage. The way I install software, I would use up too much of that first partition too quickly -- and by quickly I mean within a couple of years.

 
Some folks suggest that partitioning a drive is a good idea. But because I am pretty faithful about backing up my data separately on external hard drives, it's not for me.

It took me about 15 minutes to fix this, with the excellent EaseUS Partition Manager, free software that just works. I deleted the data partition, which was empty, clicked and dragged the remaining partition to encompass all that new space, hit “apply,” let the machine restart and that was all it took. Windows 7 would probably handle this task, too, but I am impressed with how Partition Manager works so well.
 
Next: Dealing with all that software.

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Meg Dickinson wrote on August 10, 2011 at 11:08 am
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Sorry, but my dog is still cuter.