The Important Things You Should Do When You Get A New Computer

The Important Things You Should Do When You Get a New Computer

You've just purchased a new computer. Nice! You're probably excited to tear open the box and set it up, but there are a few boring-but-important tasks that will save you disappointment and even heartbreak (not to mention money) later. Here are a few key tasks you should perform whenever you buy a new PC.

Save Your Serial Number

The Important Things You Should Do When You Get a New Computer

Your computer will have a serial number on the bottom or the back, and you'll probably need this one day. They can often wear off over time, especially on a laptop -- and sometimes they're just not easy to access when you're using the PC. While you're unboxing, take a picture of that serial number and toss it into Evernote or your favourite cloud storage service. This number is probably on the box and much easier to read than the number of the device. If it's a Windows PC, you may also want to grab a snapshot of your Windows licence key, too, in case you ever need to reinstall.

Create A Recovery Disc Or Drive

The Important Things You Should Do When You Get a New Computer

Speaking of reinstalling, there may come a time where something goes wrong and you need to start from scratch. Some computers may come with recovery CDs or drives, but many these days don't. Ordering CDs from the manufacturer can take both time and money, so it makes sense to create your own. Windows users can follow this guide to make a recovery drive, while Mac users can create a USB stick of your operating system following these instructions.

Check Your Insurance

The Important Things You Should Do When You Get a New Computer

Your computer should be covered as part of your household contents insurance, but check the details. Some policies may require you to list it specifically if it's above a certain value. If in doubt, ring up and ask -- much better to know you're covered than to discover you aren't after a robbery or natural disaster.

Set A Warranty Reminder

The Important Things You Should Do When You Get a New Computer

Don't you just hate it when your computer has a problem and you find out it's just barely out of warranty? Put a reminder in your calendar now for a few days before your warranty expires. That way, you won't get caught in the "I'm too busy and now it's too late" trap. I put it as a birthday for my computer in my contacts along with its serial number for quick access. Remember too that under Australian consumer law, any warranty provided is additional to your basic rights. If your computer dies 366 days after purchase, you may still have a case for arguing that it hasn't met your basic rights for acceptable quality.

As well as these hardware-focused activities, you should also make sure you've audited all your passwords, set up some good antivirus software, and prepared your computer for heavy use -- but hopefully you'll remember these boring-but-important things as well. Good luck!

Lifehacker 101 is a weekly feature covering fundamental techniques that Lifehacker constantly refers to, explaining them step-by-step. Hey, we were all newbies once, right?



      'bloatware is the leading cause of computer cancer in our society today.... what will you do about it tomorrow?'

    also, recovery disks are useless - why would you go and install a fresh batch or outdated software on your pc - use ninite to install up to date apps

    Pfffffttt to everything above.
    This works best:
    1) Downloaded the latest Linux Mint.
    2) Wipe all existing partitions
    3) Install
    4) Enjoy

      And wonder why nothing I want to use works on Linux? Seriously none of my software is Linux compatible why would I change to it?

      and not the lease bit practical for 99.9% of users....
      I am a linux fan... for servers...
      It's my job to maintain and run linux servers and it does a great job.

      I recently tried to get a simple open source POS application working using Ubuntu and then Mint to be hit with constant frustration and having to seriously hack around to make things work.
      Eventually I just went back to using a Windows box for it.
      Linux is still after all this time not suitable as a desktop replacement.
      For your grandma just using facebook.. it might work... that is until she plugs in her new digital camera and can't work out how to open the photos on it ;)

    Regardless of your OS I'd recommend installing Prey (, especially for a laptop. And backups are your friend (both onsite and offsite, as often as required). Here's a guide lifehacker prepared earlier (

    also regarding insurance

    instead of rewards cards, look into something like a 28degrees master card with insurance that (essentially costs nothing) and provides free insurance cover

    applies to all gadgets

    You are confusing operating recovery disks with install disks for software installed on your computer.
    On the Surface Pro 2 you need the actual recovery usb drive you were meant to have created when you first got the device because if your recovery partition on the device gets corrupt, you have no option but to return the whole device to Microsoft and get it replaced. I can imagine this can happen for other brands/circumstances, especially when it's not a computer you built for yourself. Or, a less extreme case, you have to order discs or media to be able to reinstall windows in instances where windows 'came with' the computer and you didn't buy the OS seperately. So no, it is not stupid to create recovery drives and you can't just get recovery media from ninite.

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