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Buying yourself a new computer or a new operating system is very easy. It is more 'difficult' to learn what to do so that you will have a pleasant and safe computing experience. In this article I will share with you a few tips that I have learned during my career. This tips are mostly for people who have just bought a new PC or have reinstalled their operating system. Following them will help you keep your system performance at good levels and have a lesser risk of losing your personal files and folders in case of system crashes. Also, you will be able to easily restore your system if any emergency happens.
Install Windows Vista updates and drivers - When you login to Windows Vista for the first time, start Windows Update and check for available updates. Then download and install all the important updates. The updating process might take a while, depending on the number of available updates and the speed of your internet connection. After you have taken care of the updates, start searching for the latest drivers for your system components. If you have bought your system from a personal computer manufacturer such as Dell or HP, then go to their website and search for the latest available drivers for your PC model. If you bought individual components, go to the website of each manufacturer and search for drivers there. Installing the latest drivers will definitely help improving the performance of your system.
Install security solutions - another important step is to secure your system as soon as possible. Installing a complete security solution will help keep your system safe from threats such as viruses, spyware, hackers, etc. If you cannot afford to buy a commercial security solution, you can always try the free alternatives. We have a series of articles regarding security in which we present the free antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware solutions that work on Windows Vista.
Partition your hard disk - The next thing you should do is to create at least another partition. Having only one partition is always a bad idea. If you keep your personal files and folders on the same drive with the operating system, you risk losing them when your system crashes or when you really have to format and reinstall everything. You can partition your hard disk in many ways. If you don't know how to do it, read our guide on how to manage your disks in Windows Vista. Personally, I prefer to have separate partitions for each type of data that I store: one for personal documents and image files, one for games, one for movies, etc.
Move your personal files and folders such as Documents, Pictures and Music to another partition - Once you have partitioned your hard disk, you should definitely move all your personal documents, pictures, etc to another partition. I have lost my documents and pictures many times due to the fact that I kept them on the 'C:' drive. When my Windows crashed and could not be fixed without formating and making a clean reinstall, everything I had was lost. If you move your documents to another partition, they will be safe. You can format the 'C:' drive and reinstall Windows as many times as you like. Your documents will not be lost. If you want to learn how to do this, read our guide on move your user files and folders.
Enable & configure System Restore - System Restore is a very useful feature that allows users to restore their system to a previous state in case of failure. This feature is enabled by default but, if it's not, don't forget to enable it. Once you do that, you can configure different aspects such as the amount of space used by System Restore or the frequency between the creation of restore points.
Install the software applications you want to use - every PC is useless without applications installed on it. Install the applications you will use for everyday computing such as: word processors, e-mail clients, internet browsers, instant messaging clients, video players, etc. Before you do that, you might want to read our article titled 10 free applications for Windows Vista. You might find some interesting applications there.
Customize Windows Vista - You can customize lots of things in Windows Vista: starting with its looks, the size of the icons and fonts and ending with the size of the virtual memory. For additional ideas, go to our Tips and Tricks and Tutorials sections.
Schedule Defragmentation - Defragmenting your partitions once in a while helps in keeping the same performance levels. If you add and remove lots of files and applications, the fragmentation levels will go up which will decrease the performance and responsiveness of your system. Scheduling the Disk Defragmenter to run every 3 to 4 weeks will definitely help.
Create a complete backup of your system - After you have finished installing all updates, drivers, applications and you have configured everything, you should create a complete backup of your system. If you don't like Windows Vista's Backup and Restore Center you can always try specialized third party solutions such as Acronis True Image. Having a complete PC backup always helps in quickly restoring your system without having to go again through the complete reinstall procedure.
Following these tips should translate into less frustration and a more enjoyable computing experience. If you have any other useful tips you would like to share with us, don't hesitate to leave a comment. We would love to extend this list.
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