7 critical things to do immediately with a new PC

So you’ve got a new PC. Awesome! That humble metal box is the key to a wide world of potential. It can help you with everything from juggling your finances to keeping in touch with Grandma to blowing off some steam on, uh, Steam.

But a new PC isn’t like a new car; you can’t just turn a key and put the pedal to the metal. Okay, maybe you can—but you shouldn’t. Performing just a few simple activities when you first fire it up can help it be safer, faster, and better poised for the future. Here’s how to set up a new PC the right way, step by step.

Hurry up and wait with Windows Update

The first step is by far the most tedious. You shouldn’t muck around on the web unless your copy of Windows is fully patched and up to date, period. Now for the bad news: Depending on how long your PC sat on the retail shelf, this could take minutes—or hours. Either way, it has to get done.

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First, make sure your PC’s connected to the Internet. In Windows 7 or 8, open the Windows Control Panel, then head to System and Security > Windows Update > Check for Updates. In Windows 10, open the Start menu and head to Settings Update and securityCheck for Updates. Your system will search for updates, and find some. Download and install them, then reboot your computer and do it again… and again… and again… until the update check fails to return new entries. Hopefully it won’t take too long.

By default, Windows will download and install new updates as they roll out. You just have to get over this initial hump!

Install your favorite browser

Because surfing the web in an unfamiliar browser is like trying to tango while you’re wearing someone else’s shoes. It can be done, but it ain’t pretty. Here are direct links forChrome, Firefox, and Opera if Internet Explorer isn’t your thing.

Batten down the hatches

Now that you’ve slipped into something more comfortable, it’s time to get your security ducks in a row.

Windows 8 ships with Windows Defender enabled by default. It’s a decent, if not overly detailed security solution. But PC makers can disable Defender if they want to preinstall trialware for a premium security solution—like Norton or McAfee’s antivirus products—on your PC. If you decide to keep paying for that premium product, swell! (Though I’d suggest doing your homework before plunking down cash for a security suite.) If not, disable and delete that bloatware suite and then reactivate Windows Defender.

Windows Defender isn’t included in prior versions of Windows, however, nor is it the most full-featured anti-malware solution out there. You can’t even schedule scans! PCWorld’s guide to building the ultimate free security suite can help you find the right tools to keep your PC protected.

Clean out the crap

With your defenses up, it’s time to start shoveling the crap out of your PC.

You can skip this step if you built your own Windows PC—including installation of the operating system—or bought a “Signature Edition” computer from a Microsoft store. Straight Windows installations don’t come with excess junk cluttering up your hard drive. But boxed PCs from big-name PC makers are inevitably brimming with bloatware.

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Fortunately, there’s PC Decrapifier, a straightforwardly named tool that scans your PC for known bloatware, then allows you to wipe it all away in one fell swoop. It’s far faster than hunting through the Control Panel, eradicating crapware piece by piece. Better yet, it’s free.

If you have Windows 8, PC Decrapifier won’t touch any bloatware that comes in the form of Metro apps—the colorful tiles that appear on the new-style Start screen. Those won’t start when your computer boots, however, so they shouldn’t suck up your system resources aside from some storage space. If you still want them off your machine just right-click on an unwanted app and select Uninstall.

Fill ‘er up

Why’d we scrape all that junk out? To make room for your own stuff, silly. New hardware just begs for software to match!

Outfitting your rig is an intensely personal affair, but if you’re looking for suggestions, PCWorld has a guide to free programs that are so helpful, so handy, so downright usefulthat they’d be welcome on pretty much any PC. Once you’re done perusing that, also consider checking out PCWorld’s guide to 20 obscure, yet insanely useful programs that can help ease your daily tasks. They’re all free too, though they’re a bit more niche.

Head towards Ninite when it comes time to actually install all that software. Ninite is sort of like an anti-PC Decrapifier—it lets you install numerous free applications of your choice all at once, even going so far as to automatically disable the bundled crapware that many free programs try to sneak in as part of the installation process. It’s a wonderfully handy tool that takes the pain out of loading up a new PC.

Made in your own image

After all that, your PC is finally ready to rock: It’s safe, up to date, scrubbed free of junk, and full of software fine-tuned to meet your specific needs. The end is in sight! But we’re not done juuuuuust yet.

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Now that your PC’s in fighting shape it’s an ideal time to create a clone or image of your primary hard drive—the one Windows boots from—and save it to another hard drive. A clone or image creates a snapshot replica of your drive, which you can use to boot up Windows if your primary drive gives up the ghost. Having an image of your system in its current updated, bloatware free, customized state prevents you from having to do all that legwork over again if you ever have to reinstall Windows for any reason.

So what’s the difference between a clone and an image? Essentially, a clone creates an exact copy of your hard drive on another drive—files, master boot record, and all. The clone consumes the entire hard drive, but it’s plug-and-play if you ever need to use it. Images, on the other hand, create a single, mammoth file containing all the stuff on your PC. It takes a bit more to get an image backup ready to roll after a disaster, but you have more flexibility in how you store it, since it’s essentially just a great big file. Lincoln Spector has a more detailed comparison if you’re interested.

There are excellent backup tools available that let you create clones and images, including the free personal versions of Macrium Reflect Free and EaseUS Todo Backup. We explain how to use Windows’ native imaging tool step-by-step in PCWorld’s guide tocreating a free, foolproof backup system—one you should implement ASAP. Regular backups are your data’s only savior if disaster strikes.

Optional: Update your drivers

This step isn’t for everyone. Few things can introduce troublesome ghosts in your machine faster than a driver that refuses to play nice for whatever reason. If your from-the-box PC’s working fine and you only ever plan to perform basic tasks like surfing the web, working with Office, and stuff like that, feel free to forget your computer even hasdrivers and keep on keeping on. Windows Update should’ve snagged reasonably new drivers for your hardware anyway.

device manager update

But if you cobbled together a DIY rig or are rocking a gaming machine, it’s a good idea to see if more updated drivers are available for your hardware. Windows Update isn’t always on the bleeding edge of driver updates, and new drivers for, say, your motherboard or network card can provide beneficial feature and performance updates. Gamers will need to update their graphics card drivers fairly often to ensure optimal performance in the newest games.

PCWorld’s guide to updating your Windows drivers has all the info you need to proceed. If a driver does somehow manage to bork your PC, Windows automatically creates a System Restore Point when you install new device drivers. And if true disaster strikes in some bizarre, extreme case, you’ve got the backup image you’ve created—right?

Wrap-up

At this point you’re pretty much ready to roll. Sure, there are some other tasks you should perform, such as moving over files from your old PC and saving the product keys for Windows and your other installed software (Belarc Advisor rocks for the task), but you can do all that at your leisure. For now, just bask in the glory of owning a new PC, secure in the knowledge that it’s fully optimized, protected against attack, and recoverable if disaster strikes.

Plextor’s M8Pe SSD is loaded with the latest storage tech to satisfy your need for speed

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Finally, Plextor’s M6e SSD—one of the first PCI-E solid-state drives—is getting a successor. But it’s not the Plextor M7e, as you might expect. That drive was quietly killed this summer. Instead, Plextor will reveal the M8Pe at CES 2016, a M.2 solid-state drive loaded with all the latest and greatest storage technologies.

The M8Pe features a 4x PCIe 3.0 connection and the insanely fast NVMe protocol, promising 4 kilobyte random reads up to 270,000 Input/Output operations per second (IOPS), and 4KB write up to 150,000 IOPS. The increasingly popular M.2 form factor allows for better airflow and cooling, as well as a performance bump, though Plextor isn’t spilling the beans on expected read/write speeds just yet. Plextor says the drive—its first NVMe SSD—is perfect for gamers and others who need high performance from their SSDs.

The new drives also feature Plextor’s specialty features, such as PlexTurbo RAM caching, compression technology for maximizing storage capacity, and PlexVault, which allows you to hide private data from others on a shared computer.

Plextor isn’t talking storage sizes, pricing, or release dates yet, but we hope to get more details about the M8Pe during CES 2016. In addition to the M8Pe, Plextor will also show off the M7V series of SSDs using TLC NAND flash.

Why this matters: It’s great to see Plextor come out with a PCIe drive after the M7e ended with a whimper. That drive was rumored to be canceled because it couldn’t compete with similar drives from Samsung. The M7e used PCIe 2.0, for example, whileSamsung’s 950 Pro M.2 was rocking PCIe 3.0 and the NVMe protocol. Now packed with all the latest storage technologies, Plextor’s M8Pe SSD looks loaded down and ready to compete.

Spider Designs launches Tequila Bluetooth portable speaker

Spider Designs has added a new audio accessory to its portfolio with the launch of the Tequila speakers in India. It is a portable speaker featuring Bluetooth 3.0 to connect wirelessly with mobile phones. The device comes with a built-in mic to let you answer calls directly through the speaker.

Spider Designs Tequila

The Tequila speaker offers up to four days of standby time and up to 12 hours of talk time on the speaker phone. It offers universal compatibility with most Bluetooth 3.0-enabled devices. The device offers a working range of up to 33 feet, a 520mAh battery, a 3W speaker, and microSD card support as well.

It comes with changeable LED lights, and looks like a small lamp. The portable wireless audio accessory has been priced at Rs 1,899, and will be available across channels in the country.

OnePlus Icons earphones now available in India

Last month, OnePlus unveiled its latest pair of earphones called the Icons. Now the brand has started selling the accessory on Amazon for Rs 2,999. They offer a durable design made out of smooth aluminium, with a metallic finish.

OnePlus Icons headphones

The OnePlus Icons earphones look elegant, are lightweight, and come with three different rubber tips to ensure optimum fit. They offer noise isolation, 11mm drivers, a three-button in-line remote control with a mic, and a 3.5mm audio jack. They are being offered in gold and graphite hues.

As per the brand, “The asymmetric design of the earphones, taking cues from the organ piano, gives the OnePlus Icons a completely unique look. Composed of smooth aluminum, it feels sturdy and metallic, yet incredibly light.” The accessory offers a three-chambered design that changes the intensity of low-frequency sound to produce a richer sound, added the company.

Mio Global makes its Indian debut with a range of fitness wearables

Mio Global has made its Indian debut with the launch of its entire range of fitness wearables. The brand has launched the Mio Fuse, Mio Link and Mio Velo fitness trackers, and the Mio Alpha 2 smartwatch. All of the brand’s wearables are equipped with heart rate sensors, and are water resistant.

Mio GLobal wearables

The Mio Fuse comes with an LED Matrix display, and can track all-day activity including steps walked, distance covered and calories burnt. The device can store up to two weeks of daily workout details, features Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+ transmission for mobile apps and sport devices, and comes with a five-colour LED and vibration alerts to indicate heart rate zone.

The Alpha 2 smartwatch features a Mineral Glass LCD display, and offers LED and audio alerts for heart rate zones. It comes with countdown and repeat timers, and can store up to 25 hours of workout data. It misses out all-day activity tracking and ANT+ transmission, while the rest of its specs are similar to the Mio Fuse. The Mio Link and Velo are budget fitness trackers with LED displays. They connect to smartphones via Bluetooth, and offer ANT+ transmission to sport devices and mobile apps, but don’t offer inbuilt memory.

Mio has partnered with Amazon to sell its devices in India. The Mio Fuse, Mio Link and Mio Velo wrist bands have been priced at Rs 11,499, Rs 6,599 and Rs 9,999 respectively. The Mio Alpha 2 smartwatch on the other hand is being offered for Rs 16,099.

Wickedleak launches the Alpha Smartwatch with heart rate sensor

Wickedleak has joined the smartwatch bandwagon with the Alpha Smartwatch. The device offers a 3D curved touch display with scratch-resistant properties. It can be used to access notifications for calls, messages, emails, and more. When it isn’t connected, the device works as a standalone digital watch, and allows you to read previous notifications and set the alarm.

Alpha Smartwatch

The Alpha Smartwatch featuresa 1.54-inch display with 240 x 240 pixel resolution. The smartwatch is powered by a MediaTek MT2502 processor that is specially designed for wearables, and is said to consume 30 percent less power. It is fuelled by a 280mAh battery that delivers up to two days of battery life. There is a speaker and microphone to take calls directly from your wrist.

The Alpha Smartwatch also comes with a heart rate sensor, a pedometer, and sleep monitoring to help you keep track of your health. The device connects with compatible devices via Bluetooth 4.0, and also offers IP65 certification for water resistance. There’s no word on which platform the wearable runs on.

The Wickedleak Alpha Smartwatch has been priced at Rs 6,990, and is available from the company’s website only. The wearable is compatible with both Android and iOS devices.

Motorola Moto 360 2nd-gen smartwatch launched in India

As expected earlier, Motorola has launched the 2nd-gen Moto 360 smartwatch in India that was unveiled at this year’s IFA in September. The new Moto 360 offers improved design and enhanced battery life. The new smartwatch also features a women’s edition.

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The Moto 360 comes in two sizes – 42mm with a 1.37-inch screen and 46mm with a 1.56-inch display. It is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, aided by 512MB of RAM. It offers 4GB of inbuilt storage, a water resistant design, and dual-microphones input. The smartwatch supports wireless charging, and packs in a heart rate sensor, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The 42mm variant is backed by a 275mAh battery, while the 46mm model gets a 375mAh unit. Software-wise, it runs Android Wear. The smartwatch is available in a total of five variants – two leather straps and three metal straps. Women can choose from two variants  – rose gold with blush leather strap and natural metal. The men’s variants are available in both 42mm and 46mm sizes, with choices of cognac, black leather and black metal.

Moto 360 2nd gen

The new Moto 360 with a 42mm dial and leather strap is priced at Rs 19,999. The 42mm model with a metal band is priced at Rs 22,999, while the 46mm variant with a metal band will cost Rs 23,999. The smartwatch will go on sale exclusively on Flipkart and Myntra starting 7.30 pm tonight.

Brainwavz Delta earphones launched in India

Brainwavz Audio has launched is new Delta IEM noise isolating earphones in India. The audio accessory comes with a three button in-line remote with a microphone to take calls on the go.

Brainwavz Delta

 

The Brainwavz Delta offers audio output with balanced bass response. The accessory has an all-metal casing, and offers foam tips for comfort. The three button in-line remote control lets you take calls and control music playback and volume. It offers dynamic 8mm drivers, 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response, a 1.3m Y-Cord cable, and a gold plated 3.5mm plug.

The Brainwavz Audio Delta earphones are compatible with all audio devices. They are priced at Rs 1,599, and will be available on Amazon and Flipkart. They come with a two-year warranty.

91mobiles news digest: the week that went by

Every week we bring you the latest updates from the world of gadgets and technology. This week, Microsoft launched two Lumia flagships, both running the latest Windows 10. OnePlus made a bunch of announcements, and Motorola launched the 2nd edition of its smartwatch, the Moto 360. However, this is just the half of it and we’ve rounded up the full buzz below to make sure you don’t miss out on anything.

Microsoft Lumia 950 And 950 XL Launched

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Microsoft launched its flagships, the Lumia 950 and 950 XL this week. While the former sports a 5.2-inch ClearBlack OLED display with 2K resolution, the latter has a larger 5.7-inch screen which bears the same resolution. Both the devices come equipped with 20MP PureView cameras and rock 3GB of RAM. The Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL will go on sale from December 11th, however, the devices are currently available for pre-order. Microsoft is also bundling a free Display Dock for free for a limited time.

OnePlus 2 Goes Invite Free Forever

OnePlus-holiday-offers

After making sales exclusively through invites, OnePlus has finally made its flagship OnePlus 2 invite-free, forever. The device can be bought directly from the brand’s online store. Additionally, the OxygenOS powered OnePlus 2 is soonexpected to get an official CyanogenMod ROM. The CM 12.1 build will be based on Android Lollipop, and there will be a Android 6.0 Marshmallow-based CM 13 ROM  as well.

Moto 360 2nd Gen Launched

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The 2nd Gen Motorola Moto 360 smartwatch was unveiled at IFA this year, and the brand has now launched it in India. A total of five variants have been made available, out of which two are for women. The Moto 360 2nd Gen runs Android Wear and is available exclusively via Flipkart and Myntra. The prices for the smartwatch go as high as Rs 23,999.

OnePlus Launches Sandstone Black IPhone Case

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OnePlus’ signature Sandstone finished back panels on devices enjoyed a warm welcome and now the brand has introduced cases with the same Sandstone Black finish for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s. Tactfully, the company has bundled each Rs 1,199 priced case with an OnePlus X invite to lure iPhone users towards its devices. In related news, the OnePlus X will also be available without an invite from December 5th to December 7th.

Samsung Announces 2016 Editions Of The Galaxy A3, A5 And A7

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Samsung will be revamping its Galaxy A series in the wake of next year, and has made an official announcement regarding the same. While the Galaxy A3, A5 and A7 will feature the same premium metal build, other specs will be taken up a notch. While the Galaxy A3 will now sport a Super AMOLED HD display, the Galaxy A5 and A7 will come with support for Samsung Pay, Optical Image Stabilisation for their cameras, and fingerprint sensors as well.

In other notabe news, the YU Yutopia’s launch, which was scheduled for the 7th of this month, has been postponed due to a Delhi High Court injunction. Now, the company plans to launch the phone on December 17th. Additionally, Lavalaunched the Iris X10 for Rs 11,500. The device comes with 4G supports and rocks 3GB of RAM.

Panasonic launches the HX-A1 wearable waterproof camera

Panasonic has launched the HX-A1 wearable lightweight camera in India. The wearable is capable of capturing full HD videos, and comes with a 1/3 MOS sensor, and can shoot videos at 2.87-megapixels. The device also comes with a Lux nightmode and IR filter for capturing images effectively in low-light conditions or at night.

panasonic HX A1 camera

The Panasonic HX-A1 comes with a slow motion mode, which allows it to shoot 60fps video at 720p and 120fps video at 480p. It supports the MPEG-4 AVC format and can take in microSD cards up to 128GB in size. The camera comes with a loop recording feature, Wi-Fi, a built-in 3.7V battery, USB Type-B port, and can be mounted on other accessories via a twin mount, strap adaptor, wind jammer, clip mount, and suction clip mount.

The Panasonic HX-A1 camera is waterproof up to 1.5 metres, shockproof, dust proof, and even freezeproof up to -10 degrees. The camera has been priced at Rs 19,990, and will be available across channels in the country.