Windows Computer setup guide

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Preparing a Windows Machine for Use

It can take a long time to set up a Windows computer from install disk to the point when it has all the useful software on it you will need. This is a checklist I have composed to help me set up a windows PC.

I have tried to seek out the best in free software to save money and preserve our integrity when resources are few and the temptation to install software we have no legal right to use. There is a very functional free software stack that improves month after month, and I have listed the tools I use here.

First Steps

  1. After checking all hardware is working right and installing drivers where needed...
  2. Create Administrator and Restricted User (RU) accounts
  3. Set Admin pasword properly
  4. Run Windows Update and set to update automatically
  5. For both Admin and RU log in and set Network drives.
  6. Set wallpaper of Admin to RED so it is easy to see which user account is which!
  7. Install an antivirus client. Set up for automatic checks and updates. (see also this page: Spam, Antivirus and Content Filtering
  8. Make sure Windows Firewall is activated, deactivated Network Shares if this client doesn't have any. OR (Advanced) Install another firewall and configure it properly.

Note Codes used here indicate

  •  F  for Free software (Free as in 'Free Speech' - you will own this software and can modify, pass to others etc.)
  •  0  for Zero cost software (Free as in 'Free Beer' - the software is not yours but you may use it but may not pass it on to others.)

Package Manager

You might like to consider using Chocolatey package manager (, Command line) to install and update software from one central location. Once installed you may like using chocolateygui to provide a more user friendly way of managing and installing the packages.

Ninite ( is simple to use, just select the software via checkboxes, download the installer and wait until he finished downloading and installing. You can even configure your network to install software and deploy updates remotely (Ninite Pro, 20 USD/month).

General Setup

  1. Set up the printers - local and network
  2. Set up Software (productivity)
  3. Set up Software (creative)
  4. Set up Software (Multimedia)
  5. Set up Software (Utilities)
  6. Set up Software (Cloud file storage and Sync)
  7. Compatibility with Linux software (only install if you know why you want it!)

Other lists

General Administration

  1. install the Backup tool and set up
  2. Plan and implement a regular backup
  3. Plan a regular check if updates are needed. Flash, Java, OpenOffice, Firefox and so on.

Note for Linux Users

Linux users need only follow hardware and user setup stages plus the whole of General Administration. The software should already be there and Linux is already much more secure! Also most software can be downloaded and installed through the package manager in one operation.

Many of the software programs listed above are also available for Linux. More Infos in Linux Computer Setup Guide.