Setting Up a New PC: Install These 7 Essential Programs First

edited October 2023 in PC Tech

Are you excited to set up your new Windows PC and start using it? There are so many software applications and tools available that it can be overwhelming to know where to start. To help you get started, we've compiled a list of the seven essential programs you should consider installing first.

From a reliable browser to keep you connected and protected online to an office suite for productivity and an image editor for basic manipulation, these tools will set you up for success with your new device. Read on to learn more about these essential programs and why they're worth installing on your new device.

1) Install your favorite browser 

As we spend an average of over six hours on the internet every day, it's essential to have a browser that can keep up with our online activities.

By default, Windows comes with Edge, which is integrated into the operating system (OS) and now runs on the same technology as Google Chrome. This allows Edge to support Chrome extensions, themes, and additional features such as a Kids mode for added family safety and content filters.

Firefox is also a popular alternative, known for its privacy-focused features and efficient performance. However, Chrome remains the most popular choice, with a 64% market share. Chrome is a versatile and efficient choice for all types of online activities. Its cross-platform syncing allows easy access across all your devices and integration with other Google products.

Whichever browser you choose, make sure to install it on your new Windows PC to get the most out of your internet experience.

Download: Google Chrome (Free), Firefox (Free), Edge (Free)

2) Install antivirus software 

Anti-virus software is one of the most essential software to install on any new Windows PC, and you want one that is effective and won't slow your system down.

By default, Windows comes with Microsoft Defender, a reliable real-time protection option. In fact, independent testing agency SE Labs gave Microsoft Defender a 100% AAA accuracy rating, which is a perfect score. It's now available for your Android.

The catch with Windows Defender and its built-in security tools and features to ensure continuous protection is that you must stick with Microsoft:

  • Edge as the default browser 
  • Microsoft Office 365 instead of Google Workspace 
  • Microsoft Teams instead of Slack or Zoom.

For paid solutions, Bitdefender Total Security protects all your devices, scores well in independent testing, and protects against malware and other online threats, including zero-day attacks. It comes packed with additional features such as:

  • VPN 
  • Password Manager 
  • Firewall 
  • Parental Controls

Make sure to choose an antivirus solution that fits your needs and preferences.

3) Boost productivity with an office suite  

Chances are you'll need a productivity suite to create and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. When choosing an office suite, consider whether you want to work online, offline, or both.

A) Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365, formerly Office 365, is the industry standard and offers powerful desktop and online applications. It's known for its flexibility and ease of use but starts at $70 per year. An alternative is Microsoft Office for free in a web browser at

Download: Microsoft 365

B) LibreOffice

LibreOffice is a free and open-source desktop software that includes alternatives to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access. One gripe is it lacks a web version and doesn't offer online collaboration features.  

Download: LibreOffice (Free)

C) Google Workspace

Google Workspace, formerly known as G Suite, is a cloud-based suite of productivity and collaboration tools that includes Gmail, Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Google Workspace is convenient, flexible, and suitable for users who need to collaborate and access their documents from multiple devices. It allows you to access your documents and data from any device with an internet connection but does not offer offline access. It is a good choice for those who prefer to work online. 

Join: Google Workspace

4) Image editor: Paint.NET 

An image editing program is valuable for basic image manipulation, blurring sensitive information in screenshots, and retouching old photos.

While Photoshop is the industry leader, there are also plenty of free options that are more accessible to everyday users.

One of the best options for Windows is Paint.NET, which offers a wide range of features and functionality without overwhelming users with complicated tools. With its ability to blur, auto-level, and add text and shapes to images, Paint.NET is a versatile choice for your editing needs. It also has a variety of plugins to expand its capabilities. If you're looking for something more advanced, GIMP is another free option, or the online Adobe Express.

Download: (Free)

5) Choose the best cloud storage 

Cloud storage protects against data loss by backing up your critical files, freeing up local storage space, accessing your files from anywhere, and sharing files with others. When choosing a cloud storage solution, consider the following:

  • Storage capacity: How much storage space do you need?  
  • Pricing: How much are you willing to pay for cloud storage?  
  • Features: Some providers offer additional features such as file versioning, collaboration tools, and integration with other apps and services. 
  • Security: How secure is the provider's infrastructure and data protection? Make sure to choose a provider with strong security measures to protect your data. 
  • Ease-of-use: Do backups happen automatically?

Here are three of the best cloud storage options: 

A) Microsoft OneDrive 

OneDrive is a cloud storage service that offers 5 GB of storage for free, with paid plans starting at $1.99 per month for 100GB. OneDrive integrates tightly with the Windows operating system and allows you to easily access and share your files from any device.

B) Google Drive

Google Drive stores documents that you create online and backs up your computer files. Offers 15GB of storage for free, with paid plans starting at $1.99 per month for 100 GB. It walks hand in hand with Google Workspace. So, if this is already part of your workflow, Google Drive offers a feature-rich, affordable native backup-and-sync solution.

C) IDrive

IDrive offers online file sharing, data migration, and disaster recovery services. IDrive offers the best price per terabyte with plans including file versioning, real-time backup, and restoring lost files. Strong security measures are baked in with 256-bit AES encryption and the option to add a private key.

6) Video player: VLC Media Player 

While YouTube is ubiquitous for streaming videos, it's still a good idea to install a local video player on your desktop when you need to play media files from your computer.

VLC Media Player is a free, open-source, feature-rich choice that can handle nearly every video and audio format. It's a must-have for any Windows PC, as it will save you the hassle of dealing with video codecs. 

Download: VLC Media Player (Free) 

7) File compression and extraction 

Although Windows includes native support for simple zipped files, a more powerful tool is necessary for handling anything beyond the basics. A file extractor is a crucial PC app that allows you to work with various archived files you might encounter. While it may not be the most exciting software category, it's still an essential tool to have on hand.

A) 7-Zip

7-Zip is a free, open-source file compression and extraction tool that supports many file formats. The lightweight software's simple interface includes advanced features such as file compression ratios, command line support, and file integrity verification. 

Download: 7-Zip (Free)


WinRAR is a powerful file compression and extraction tool that supports many file formats. It includes password protection, file encryption, and creating your own self-extracting files. The trial version never expires but does nag you to pay for it when you open it. 

Download: WinRAR (Free) 

8) Video chat and messaging 

Video chat and messaging tools allow you to communicate with others using text, audio, and video. The apps you'll need depend primarily on work requirements and the platforms your friends and colleagues are on. Some popular choices on Windows include:

Facebook Messenger Desktop App: Communicate with your Facebook friends and groups by downloading the Windows app to text and video call.

Skype: Skype allows you to make voice and video calls, send text messages, and share files with others. 

Zoom: Zoom is a popular video conferencing tool that allows you to hold meetings and webinars with others online. It includes screen sharing, virtual backgrounds, and recording meetings.

Microsoft Teams: Microsoft Teams is a collaboration platform that includes chat, voice and video calls, and file sharing. It's integrated with the Microsoft 365 suite of apps 

Google Meet: A video conferencing tool that allows you to hold meetings and webinars with others online. Features include screen sharing, virtual backgrounds, and recording. Integrates with the Google Workspace suite of apps.

Congratulations on your new Windows PC! Choose the right software tools and applications to meet your needs and preferences. By installing these programs, you'll have everything you need to tackle a wide range of computing tasks quickly and efficiently. Don't rush the process – take the time to research and select the software that best meets your needs, and you'll be well on your way to making the most of your new device. Enjoy your new PC, and happy computing!

Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.



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