19 Mar 2016

How to Foolproof Your Windows 10 PC in 10 Easy Steps!

My parents bought a new PC lately, an ASUS X553M Notebook. Price was the catch, but as the more savvy amongst us are aware, price does not (always) dictate quality, especially when it comes to technology. Roby, my Apple-devout better half, had warned them that they should go for Mac rather than PC but they went down the supermarket instead, and halfway between browsing the DIY aisle and the books section, had a quick nose round the IT shelves for a pretty-looking piece wearing an ice white shell and a shiny logo on top, then asked a couple of lame questions to a nearby vendor and the deal was sealed. When they got home, they called me and asked me to work my magic on it. And faced with Windows 10 - an adversity all to itself - this is what I came up with:

  1. I registered their ASUS machine online, following the prompts, and had to create an ASUS account in the process but kept personal data to a minimum. 
  2. Personalised the 'Welcome' message that pops up when Windows loads.
  3. Set the date and time (yep, can you believe that this is not an automatic Windows feature here?)!
  4. Uninstalled the preset anti-virus software and unleashed my trusted Kaspersky, as I own a Kaspersky licence for 2 PCs.
  5. Installed Iolo System Mechanic, a programme (not a freebie but well worth the cost!) that does a great job of decluttering registers and system drives and all the behind-the-scenes shindig!
  6. Killed off Internet Explorer and installed Firefox as the defacto internet browser. I bookmarked a handful of websites that I know my parents will be using, to make it easier for them. I tweaked the design to make it more personable to them and added the Ghostery plug-in, an advert blocker that works wonders!
  7. Uninstalled the Microsoft Office free trial bundle. Who wants to shell out cash for more crawling chaos? And here whizzed in OpenOffice! While I was at it, I installed Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, and PhotoScape free photo-editing software, a pared-down cheapo imitation of Photoshop Elements that does amateur photography the trick of the tweak!
  8. Installed Skype and created and configured their brand new Skype account, adding a couple of family contacts to give my parents a headstart with the application!
  9. Customised their task bar with all the basic programmes and features, like Open Office, Adobe Reader, Calculator, Screen Capture Tool, Kaspersky, System Mechanic, Skype and PhotoScape. I doubt they will use WebStorage and Evernote but I added those on too. Cleaned out the Windows start menu off any unnecessary items.
  10. Created a table in a word document that holds their account logins and passwords, so that they are never stuck! Of course I encouraged them to change their passwords and update the sheet accordingly whenever they do so.
Finally I downloaded the Lexmark printer files off the manufacturer's website in order to connect my parents' old printer to their new computer. Unfortunately I couldn't find drivers compatible with Windows 10;  yet another dirty little trick that Microsoft loves to play on us whenever they upgrade to a new OS, forcing folks to purchase new bits of kit... This is the Microsoft Windows diktat, and another reason why I begrudge the IT behemoth.

Now a little rant. Unsurprisingly, Windows 10 has failed to impress me, and already I can spot error messages creeping up and discrepancies brewing up just under the hood... You wonder whether Windows' clunky and notoriously dysfunctioning operating systems are not a justification for keeping IT departments and the IT sector as a whole superstaffed, because if we were dealing with efficient systems, we wouldn't need all those dedicated Windows technicians!

Would you trust this man with your computer? Me neither.

Anyhoo I tried to streamline and foolproof my parents' computer as best I could. Considering they will be mostly surfing the internet and typing up the odd letter, a PC put through my 10-step programme should suffice.

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