Setting up your Home Computer and Internet

Your Desktop Computer and/ or lap top should come with instructions for set-up and installation. The below guide serves as a supplement to your user guide that accompanies your computer.

Important first steps include:

1. Get Know Your Computer
It helps to understand what the different parts of the computer do and what they are called. Click here to learn about the parts of a desktop computer system (central processing unit, monitor, keyboard, mouse, modem, printer, and speakers) and about the cables that connect everything correctly.

2. Determine an Ideal Location:

  • Select an open floor or table space that also enables you to reach a power outlet comfortably.
  • If you have a desktop model, make sure there is space for the cable that connects the monitor to the computer.
  • Make sure you’ll be comfortable and healthy in the spot. For example, choose a spot where you can place your monitor away from light sources that produce glare or one that has window blinds to control light levels.
  • 3. Install Important Software:
  • Productivity programs: Depending on your kind of computer, there are a number of programs to select from to produce typed documents (word processing), spreadsheets (accounting), or presentations. Some of these may come pre-installed on your computer. You can also buy word processing and other programs in a store or on line, or you can use free versions available at a number of different websites. Of the free programs, Open Office and Google Docs are popular. Of the paid programs, Microsoft Office is popular.
  • Antivirus software: It is important to protect the computer from malicious viruses that could harm the computer, slow down speed, compromise your private information, and ultimately cause it to stop working. This will periodically scan the computer and protect it from any threats. Some of these programs (often bundled with spyware software) may come pre-installed on your computer. You can buy these programs in a store or download them from the internet, or you can use free versions available at a number of different websites. You can learn more about the paid programs here and here. You can learn more about free antivirus programs here and here.
  • Web browser: A web browser is your portal to the internet. There are several popular programs, some of which may have come installed on your computer. They all take you to the same websites, but you may prefer a particular interface or find that a particular browser works better on your computer. Popular browsers include Microsoft Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari (for Mac computers), or Google Chrome.
  • Additional programs: As you browse the internet, you may be asked to install additional programs in order to access different kind of content. For example, to read many documents (ones whose names end in .pdf) you will need to install Adobe. To watch videos you may need to install a media player such as Quick Time or Real Player. To listen to music you may want to install a program such as iTunes or Zune. To place free or low cost calls on the internet you may want to install a program such as Skype or Google Voice.
  • 4. Connect to the Internet
    There are several providers that will help you to get started online. Click on “Find a Provider” for information on providers in your area.

5. Other Considerations:
If you have multiple computers in your household or have a lap top that you would like to move from room to room, purchasing a modem from your internet provider and a wireless router from an electronic or home office store will enable you to access the internet throughout your home. Sometimes, internet providers provide these items for free.

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