New PC, what do I install ?

I’m sitting staring at my shiny new PC. What sould I download and install as a priority.

I’m not much of a tech head but I do know roughly what part of my computer does what. I’ve already made sure that XP is up to date on all it’s sercurity patches. Some specifics -

Virus protection - I can get an up to date virus checker through work, so I want to leave this for the time being

Browser - I’ve heard good things about firefox but I’m a little worried it will be to complicated for me to use or it won’t be able to access some websites

Firewall - No idea about this. This is what worries me the most because I have no idea what ports do what or anything like that.

Downloader - I don’t want to download any illegal software (I buy all my music, DVD’s, and games) However I have noticed legitimate websites offering their downloads this way. I’m a little worried about
A) The legality of this even for downloading legit files.
B) That if I download the software it will unleash a torrent of adware on my machine.

Is there anything else I should consider.


Sorry, I was refering specifically to bitt torrent when talking about downloader.

Firefox isn’t a problem at all. The default interface is set up to replicate Internet Explorer very closely. And you’ve still got IE there for the 0.1% of sites which rely on it.

My preferred firewall is Sygate’s. It’s not a problem to set up - run the install, reboot, and it will pop up and ask for confirmation as each program tries to connect to the internet (with an option to ‘always allow’, as you will want to do for normal programs). If in doubt, click ‘no’ - nothing bad can happen from doing this! Most of the important stuff, keeping the nasties out, is done without any interaction from you.

Windows XP comes with a firewall, but I don’t use it, so I can’t say how it works.

I’ve been happily using Zone Alarm Pro for a couple of years as my firewall.

I use Firefox for my browser and Thunderbird for my mail server. Both are a breeze to set up and use.


I was using the google task bar on my last computer to search. Is this still a good option or does anyone else offer a better version of the same thing.

Firefox is not complicated at all. It is well worth it to avoid all of the baggage that IE brings along. You can have both Firefox and IE and I just use Firefox 99+% of the time and get pissed whenever I have to switch over to IE for whatever reason.

You need:

  1. Adobe Acrobat reader
  2. An unzipping application such as Winzip
  3. A P2P client (I like Ares).

I just reformatted my PC (it had gotten so clogged full of shit I just wanted to make a clean start) and I’m in the same process that you are–installing essential software, deciding what is essential.

I installed virus protection (Norton), Adobe Acrobat Reader, Real Audio (I know some people don’t like it, but I go to places that have Real files). QuickTime player came with iTunes, and I consider that essential. I also agree with using FireFox. I am going to avoid using a POP email client (like Outlook Express or Thunderbird) as I use webmail on the PC (use my Mac for POP mail). I’m going to use XP SP2’s built-in firewall.

What I am curious about are Windows Utilities like Norton SystemWorks. I had Norton SystemWorks on my PC before I reformatted it, but I can’t find the CD now and I’m ambivalent about installing a newer version. All the reviews for SystemWorks on are bad. I almost think I’d be better off witout it. Does anyone else have an opinion on applications like SystemWorks? Anything else they’d recommend?

yosemite - You use Norton and Real? shudder

There ARE better virus protections than Norton, and yes, even other media players that can play real files without taking over your entire system.

Tell me which ones I can use to play RealAudio files! has most of their audio samples in the Real format. Granted, I’m mostly on the Mac when I cruise around the Internet, (and the Mac RealPlayer seems to be fine) but when I’m on the PC I don’t want to be left out. Will these alternatives install themselves as plug-ins on my browser, and if not, how do I work around that?

As far as virus protection, let me know what is better (or best) and I’ll switch (unless it’s expensive). I have no great loyalty to Norton.

Real Alternative. Get it from the
Final Builds site.

To address the OP, also from Final Builds site, I’d recommend the K-Lite Codec Pack.

That site makes me wince. If you’re going to present yourselves as an egalitarian free alternative to the free-and-almost-harmless RealPlayer, making your site look like spyware-ridden garbage doesn’t help.

Tweak the RealPlayer settings so it isn’t permanently in the background, and keep your firewall setting for it to ‘always ask’, and it does no harm.

OpenOffice (MS finally had THEIR software ripped off … hehe)

TestPad text editor (for those files you don’t want MS Word tossing in all kinds of unnecessary wingdings)
(also has some nice built-in features for programmers)


FTP client:

Image viewer/editor LView Pro:

Agent Newsgroup reader:

Google popup blocker toolbar:

And of course, my latest fun little gadget, Activshopper toolbar (IE required though, sorry):

I second this recommendation 100%. Real Player is bloated crapware, and RealAlternative allows me to play any Real file without a problem, whether its embedded in the webpage or a stand-alone media file. I’ve also dumped Quicktime and Windows Media Player. For playing video, i use the following set-up:

Media Player Classic

This is a compltely open source, free setup. Media Player Classic is a great open source player with an interface based on the older Windows Media Player. The ffdshow codec library will let you play just about any video or audio you’re likely to encounter, either from files on your local computer, or from streaming sites; it also means you can avoid downloading some of the rather dodgy codec files that are running around on the internet. The RealAlternative and QuicktimeAlternative programs allow you to view Real and Quicktime files and streams without having the nagging bloated crap that is Real and (to a lesser extent) Quicktime on your computer. Media Player Classic will also play DVDs with no problem at all.

I use WinAmp for organizing my music and playing my mp3s on the computer. Its interface is easy to use, and there is a huge variety of skins available so you can customize the appearance. Also, it uses far less system memory than Apple’s iTunes (which is, nonetheless, a decent program), and is far superior to Musicmatch’s nagging crap. If you’re going to rip your CDs to mp3, make sure you use a ripper that uses the LAME codec, like CDex or dBpoweramp. The quality is much better than some other mp3 encoders.

If you get Firefox, which you should, you won’t have to worry about installing the Google toolbar, either for searching or for pop-up blocking. I also have the Opera browser on my computer, and i like it pretty well, too.

I agree that it’s a pretty ugly site, but RealAlternative is is available in a bunch of places, and it really is much less hassle than having RealPlayer, IMO.

Speak nicely to your IT guys at work. They’ll appreciate you not bringing in virus-loaded documents.

At work, burn a CD with
[li]Winzip[/li][li]Adobe Acrobat Reader[/li][li]ZoneAlarm[/li][li]Ad-aware[/li][li]Their anti-virus app[/li][li]Windows XP SP2[/li][li]Post-SP2 hotfixes[/li][li]MS Office updates (if you have Office)[/li][li]Windows XP Powertoys[/li][li]Windows Media Player[/li][li]Latest drivers for all your hardware (prepare a list beforehand)[/li][li]Motherboard Monitor[/li][li]Treesize Pro (for file management)[/li][li]XNews (news reader)[/li][li]Anything else they recommend[/li][/ul]

Make sure your PC is disconnected from any modem or cable connection. Run Windows setup but opt to not register XP. You have a month. Install and configure all the software. Don’t use Windows’ internal firewall - ZoneAlarm is much better. Now hook up the modem or cable and register XP.

The Microsoft Spyware software free in beta test is very good. Killed alll the stuff I had that Ad-aware and SpyBot couldn’t get.

Second Don’t Ask with the spyware detector. This thread has a load of info about what to do with a new pc. It’s from the Steam forums and supplies alot of relevant links.

Download Spyware Blaster to stop the crap before it ever gets to your computer. It almost makes Ad-Aware unnecessary.

I would recommend buying Registry Mechanic, as well. Cleans up your registry after you remove programs, etc. You’d be surprised at the clutter that ends up in there that slows performance.

Fred Langa addresses this in his latest list – actually he has a bunch of links out to his articles on PC Magazine. Anyway, I read through it yesterday, and he’s got a great walk-through of exactly what to do with a new PC.

Go here to check it out.