You have your internet rearing to go and it’s time to unbox your new toy(s). The good news is that today, in 2020, the manufacturers have made great strides in simplifying the process and now to utilise the principle of Wizards (no, not a bloke in a pointy hat, but a number of targeted questions that will get your device going). With Microsoft’s Windows Operating System, you could if you really, really, want to use the inbuilt AI assistant, Cortana to do the setup verbally with hardly any need to physically touch the device!
The not so simple process, that you go through, after initial setup is personalisation. Personalisation is such a subjective issue, that it’s not practical to go into any real detail on this site as this site’s aim is just the basics. However, later, I will give some pointers – I really would recommend, though, that as you make changes to the default, you fully test what you have done to ensure it meets your needs (and only do a couple of changes at a time, so you can easily reverse steps).
Anyway, back to basic setup.
Before you do anything there are some things to consider, depending on the device you have.
Firstly – Read the manual! The manufacturer has spent a fortune on producing the guide and devising the simplest way to simplify setup so take the hint.
Next – Find the user guide, which will list the box contents. Before you start, check everything is there and you know what each piece is and what it’s purpose is.
If it’s a desktop, you need to consider where you are going to site it. Desktops do get quite hot and therefore you should ensure that the air vents have at least a couple of inches space away from any other object. Obviously, it must be near a power source and as you will have a monitor, there needs to be a socket for that – Obviously, you can use a multi gang socket, but do not use multi-plugs as these tend to catch fire if overloaded.
Battery powered devices can be setup anywhere, but may well need a charge on first use.
Next is a username and password to setup your device – These are known in IT parlence as credentials.
Some devices might let you get away with no password requirement but if you lose it, or it gets stolen, good luck with the Insurance Company when you try and make a claim!
A username is a name that uniquely identifies someone on a computer system. Don’t worry about it too much, it just allows your device to uniquely identify you (especially if more than one person is going to use the computer). Different operating systems have different requirements as to what a username should be.
Windows Computers – Microsoft require that the username is an email address, and they would really, really, like you to use either a hotmail.com account or an outlook.com account. You don’t have to use either of these but if you don’t, then you do miss out on some features – For example 15GB of free online storage in their OneDrive system (can use it as an automated backup if you wish). Don’t worry if you already have an email address you use, signing up for a free hotmail\outlook.com account doesn’t mean you have to use it, it just gives you access to more features.
Apple Computers – The username can be anything you like, you will need an email account to access the app store, for example, but you can still use an existing address.
Apple iPhone\iPad – As for Apple computers, you just need an account. After setting up, you can setup a six character, numerical, password to save you typing in an email address.
Android Devices – Google requires that, if you want full access to their ecosystem you must have a gmail account. You can setup a device without one, but you would loose access to the Google Play Store, for example, which means you can’t update pre-installed apps nor download new ones. Similarly to Windows devices, you can just setup a gmail account to keep Google happy and use an existing account as your main email account.
Not having a password on your device is akin to not having a lock on your front door. If your device is lost or stolen, anybody can access the information on it. It is possible that any insurance you took out on the device, might not pay out because you failed to take reasonable steps to protect it. In a similar way, if your phone was used by someone else, and they ran a bill up, then you would most likely be responsible for the costs as, again you didn’t take reasonable staps to protect the device.
A password doesn’t have to be sixteen random numbers, letters or symbols that you end up writing down as you can’t remember it (which defeats the object!). It has to be something that you remember, but is very difficult for someone else to guess (so, birthdays and Childrens names are risky as is PASSWORD or 12345678).
You should avoid reusing passwords across email addresses and websites otherwise once someone knows it they can access a lot of personal stuff.
A password should be between eight and sixteen characters long. It should contain at least one number and one capital letter.
It’s not easy setting a good password up but essential. I tend to use three random words and change them around a bit, for example budgie, carrot, cat becomes Budgi3carr0tcaT – Hopefully this gives you a suggestion, you could use a password manager to create one, password managers are very good, but personally I’d only use them for accounts setup on websites, not email accounts.
Returning, briefly, to personalisation this is a very wide ranging subject area. Devices are highly configurable and it’s not easy to suggest changes that would meet every users need. You can, for example, change the desktop wallpaper, font size\colour, contrast, screen resolution or display brightness.
If you have a disability, Microsoft, Apple and Google have expert teams who will assist you in setting up your device and teach you features for free.
To give you some idea as to what personalisation options are available, below are some videos, from YouTube, giving you some idea what you can do. Unfortunately some of the presenters are a little wacky, with some interesting music, but go past that and take in the content!
Once you have looked at the video, for your device, you can search YouTube, or the manufacturer’s website for more detail on the particular piece of personalisation you are doing. When searching add into the search term “for beginners”, that way you will get, hopefully, videos that don’t presume you are an IT expert.