Have you recently acquired a flashy new gadget? You’re undoubtedly anxious to get started playing with it right now. However, to ensure that your new device’s life is trouble-free, you need first take the time to correctly set it up. To keep it working well for years to come, follow these easy recommendations.

Make sure all updates are installed.

System updates might be a pain to install, but they’re there for a reason: they fix performance issues, fix security flaws, and make your device’s operating system more stable and trustworthy. If you’re lucky, they’ll throw in some bonus features as well. Because updates have the potential to damage the rest of your system, you should install them first. Even if you bought a brand-new device, the manufacturer may have published a few software upgrades after it was sent. As a result, you may receive a slew of alerts as soon as you turn it on, urging you to install any outstanding updates. When you click or press notice, the machine will assist you in updating its system.

Even if you don’t get these messages, you should manually check for updates. Look for the App Store icon in the dock on macOS and click it to launch it. Open the Settings app on iOS, go to the General menu, and select Software Update. Open Settings on a Windows device, then go to Update & Security, then Windows Update. In Android, open the Settings app, touch System, and then go to Android Settings > System Update.

Set up security

Your Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS devices surely store a lot of personal data, and this new one is no exception. That means you’ll want to use robust security settings to safeguard your digital life.

Security for phones and tablets begins at the lock screen, where you should set up a PIN code or password at the very least. You can use a fingerprint or facial recognition test if your smartphone has extra unlock choices. Check out our guide on securing your smartphone’s lock screen for additional information.

When it comes to computers, you don’t want just anyone stirring them up from their slumber. By demanding a password or other security check, you can keep them safe. This option may be found in Settings under Accounts and Sign-in on Windows PCs. Open System Preferences on macOS and go to Security & Privacy.

After you’ve shielded your computer from prying eyes, you’ll want to install antivirus software. For the most part, the built-in Windows Defender on Windows will suffice. Install a third-party software if you want extra peace of mind—or if you possess a macOS system. Because of its high virus-detection rates, user friendliness, and little impact on overall computer performance, independent testing site AV Test recommends Bitdefender Internet Security ($23) and Norton Security ($23) for Windows. Try AVG Antivirus (free), Bitdefender Antivirus ($40), or Sophos Home (free) for Mac OS X. All of these programs discovered more viruses than their rivals.

Antivirus software isn’t required on a smartphone because Google and Apple strictly manage their separate app stores. Remember to stay vigilant against additional security risks, such as falling victim to phishing scams.

Files from your old device should be transferred.

Do not keep data and programs on your old phone, tablet, or laptop for an extended period of time. Every week they sit collecting dust, the more likely you are to entirely forget about them.

It’s not difficult to transfer apps to your new smartphone, but it does take some effort. Make a list of all the programs you now use. Then, on your new smartphone, go to the app store and download them one by one. Because your Microsoft, Apple, and Google IDs are connected, you’ll be able to re-download programs you’ve already purchased for free. Just keep in mind that some apps may need to be uninstalled from your old smartphone before they can be installed on your new one. Finally, sign in to your account if the app requires it. This final step will transfer a lot of your data and preferences, including Spotify playlists.

You’ll need a cloud syncing service for file transmission. iCloud, OneDrive, and Google Drive are built-in services on Apple, Microsoft, and Android devices, respectively. Dropbox is also a dependable third-party solution. Except for iCloud, which is only available on macOS and iOS, all of these settings are cross-platform compatible.

All of these services function in the same way. Install the app on your old smartphone and use it to upload your files to the cloud. Then, on your new device, install the software and you’ll have access to all you need. Depending on how much data you wish to transfer, you may need to pay for more storage space. You may also utilize an external hard drive instead of the cloud if you’re transferring data between machines. Simply save your folders on a hard drive and then transfer them to the new computer.

After you’ve saved everything you need from your old gadget, wipe it clean so you may properly dispose of it. (See this guide on securing data on obsolete devices for additional information.) Remove applications, deregister them if required, and then reset the computer to factory defaults. On Windows, go to Settings, then Update & security, then Recovery, and then click Get started under Reset this PC. On macOS, you must first reboot your computer, then hold down Command+R as it restarts and select Disk Utility from the menu. Choose Mac OS Extended from the Format option after selecting your primary disk drive. After that, you may exit Disk Utility and on to the next step. After that, you may exit Disk Utility and choose the reinstall macOS option. On Android and iOS, the process is a little simpler. On Android, select Settings, System, and Reset; on iOS, select General, Reset, and Erase All Content and Settings from the Settings app.

Prepare to back it up

You need to set up a backup procedure now that you’ve migrated your files and images to your new PC. Establish this, and you may put it out of your mind, confident in the knowing that your data will be protected if something happens to your device.

If you’re setting up a phone, Android and iOS will back up a lot of your crucial data automatically, however Android users may need some extra assistance storing SMS messages. More information on what’s included in your phone backups, as well as how to check sure they’re working properly, may be found directly from Apple, Google, or the maker of your Android phone.

Furthermore, as previously indicated, there are a plethora of cloud-storage programs to pick from. Using the built-in service for whichever device you’re using—Apple iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, or Google Drive—might be the easiest approach. It may be necessary to pay a few dollars each month to have sufficient online storage space, but it is well worth it.

Third-party solutions can also be effective, especially if you wish to back up data from various workstations with various operating systems. Dropbox is a cloud storage service that syncs your data across different devices and costs $9.99 a month for 1TB of storage. BackBlaze, which costs $5 a month and up, is another option. It makes exact duplicates of everything on your Windows or macOS system in the cloud, but unlike Dropbox, it doesn’t sync files across various platforms.

Your images and videos are among your most valuable possessions. We prefer Google Photos for this. It works almost everywhere and even stores all of your photos and videos for free. While it will downsize pictures to 16 megapixels or 1080p to conserve space, you may pay a membership fee to preserve them at their original size. However, the other cloud storage options we’ve examined are also capable of storing your photographs and movies. Check out our guide on cloud picture storage for additional details.

Finally, don’t forget about physical storage: If you’re setting up a Windows or macOS machine, you can simply buy an external hard drive and copy your most critical data over to it on a regular basis. Just make sure it’s kept in a secure location.


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