Were you lucky enough to pick up a new computer today for Christmas? Maybe you already snagged one for Hanukkah a few weeks ago? Heck, maybe you just bough one for yourself... I don't judge.
No matter if it's a snazzy new Microsoft Surface, a Windows 8 laptop, or a traditional desktop computer, here are the first four things you need to do:
Update Your Antimalware Program
The last thing you want to do is get your computer infected with malware on Christmas. Who wants that?
I thought about calling this "install an antimalware program" but almost all computers come with one preinstalled. Windows 8 comes with Microsoft's own tool built-in so most PCs bought over the holiday season are ready to go.
Here's the thing, though: it won't be updated. Probably not, anyway. So, after setting it up, head to the scanner's settings and update the "definitions" - the instructions that teach the program how to identify and remove new viruses, Trojans, worms, etc.
Install Available Windows Updates
Yes, I know, you'd think your brand new computer would be fully updated but chances are it won't be.
Microsoft releases security and non-security updates to Windows on at least a monthly basis. Windows 8 especially has been getting a lot of updates recently.
See Windows Update: What It Is and How To Use It if you need help.
Install a File Recovery Program
This one might surprise you. Why install a program to help recover accidentally deleted files if you haven't even used your computer yet, let alone lost something?
Here's why: The big catch-22 about file recovery programs is that you often have to install one before you can use it, a process which could permanently overwrite the area on the hard drive where your deleted file is sitting. That's not a risk you want to take.
See my Free File Recovery Software Programs list for a number of excellent and completely free undelete tools. Just install one and forget it. If you need it in the future, it'll be there.
Sign Up for an Online Backup Service
Yep, another proactive step here, one you'll be thanking me for someday.
Online backup services are combination software tools and subscription services that automatically keep what data you want protected on secure servers away from your home or business. In my opinion, an online backup service is the best and most cost effective long term solution to keeping your data safe.
See my Online Backup Services Reviewed for a list of my favorite services.