How to Set up a New Computer
Many of us got a new computer, or a new operating system for our computer, or a wireless printer, or an external hard drive. Although they all come with instructions as to set up and use, the Computer Club First Level Support Team (FLST) can be an extra source of help. As club members, this level of help if needed is free by calling Joe Solymossy at 458-3834.
Before you do, here are some tips to make your Christmas gift more enjoyable. A new computer means you have to transfer the precious data from your old computer to your new computer. TIP: a backup is not the same as a copy of your data files. Your external drive can be set up as your data backup, but it can also serve as a place to keep a copy of your data. The difference: you can only restore the backup you made to your original computer. Anything else is for a professional. But if you have a copy of your data on your external drive, CD/DVD disk or a flash drive, you can copy those data files onto any computer.
A new Operating System, especially Windows 7, requires special attention. Usually a new operating system means you are upgrading your old computer. Always, always make a backup of your computer. If you have enough disk space, back up everything so you can always go back to your previous programs and data if you have a problem. Then make a "copy" of your data so you can copy it to your computer after the new operating system is installed.
If you are upgrading your computer to Windows 7, make sure you keep a record of the "old" operating system so you can match the upgrade to your old system. Upgrading from XP home, XP professional or the various forms of Vista is different, so read carefully. Monitor the installation closely to make sure you are upgrading and not custom installing. The difference is important only if you do not have a copy of your data. Custom install wipes out everything on your computer first, whereas the upgrade is supposed to protect your data.
A wireless printer means you want to install a printer that any computer hooked up by wire to your wireless router, or any wireless computer on your wireless network can print to. Note: if your wireless network is unsecure, your neighbor could print something on your printer. Secure your network if you are concerned about this. You do not have to have a computer hooked to you wireless printer, nor do you have to have a computer wired to your router. The wireless printer is self-supporting, but you do have to have the printer driver on the computer you want to print with. Most likely Vista and Windows 7 will already have the drivers loaded, but XP may not. The printer will come with a disk to load applicable drivers.
An external hard drive means any one of the systems available for automatic external backup of your computer data. Vista and Windows 7 have programs for automatic backup which can be kept on your computer or on another hard drive. If your backup is on a different hard drive, your data is safe even if one of those hard drives totally crash, and it will when you least expect it. If you keep a backup only on your hard drive, you are hoping that your hard drive never fails mechanically. You do have a backup if your software fails or gets corrupted, but not if your hard drive is no longer useable. If you have or make a recovery disk of your computer and keep the disk for every program you load on to your computer, you need only back up your "my documents" files externally.
However, if you use Outlook Express, Thunderbird or a similar e-mail program that gets your email from one or more web email programs and downloads them on your computer, you need to save additional files. Your emails are no longer available on the web (Gmail is an exception to this rule), but reside on your computer in a file that is not part of your "my documents" data file. Each of these email programs has an internal way to save these files in a file you can then put into "my documents", but it does not automatically update.
Any of these gifts can be exciting at Christmas time and the FLST is available to help make this an even better experience. Enjoy your gift and we wish you a most Happy New Year!