So you've installed Windows 8 on your PC. What's next? Learn some essentials and protect your data.
1. Learn essential keyboard shortcuts
There are some new (and some old) keyboard shortcuts that help you get around in Windows 8 faster. Windows Key is usually located on the left in bottom row, between Ctrl and Alt keys.
- Windows Key - open or close the new Start screen.
- Windows Key+C - open the Charms bar.
- Windows Key+I - open the Settings Charm. Also a quick access to Power button for shutting down or restarting your Windows 8 computer.
- Windows Key+Q - open Search.
- Windows Key+Z - open App bar in Modern UI/Metro apps (and Start screen).
- Windows Key+Tab - cycle through open Modern UI/Metro apps and the Desktop.
- Alt+Tab - cycle through open Desktop programs.
- Windows Key+X - open a list of common commands and management tools.
- Windows Key+D - go to the Desktop.
- Windows Key+L - lock your computer and display the Lock Screen.
- Alt+F4 - close the currently open Desktop program or Modern UI/Metro app.
See more keyboard shortcuts available in Windows.
2. Create a Recovery Drive
It is always a good idea to be prepared for disasters. Recovery Drive is a bootable USB drive that contains all basic tools to get Windows 8 back to life. If you do not have a spare USB stick (or your computer does not boot from it), you can create a bootable CD/DVD instead.
Read more about creating a Recovery Drive or System Repair Disc in Windows 8.
See more options for troubleshooting Windows.
3. Back up your files, automate backups and create a custom recovery image
File History in Windows 8 is an enhanced version of Previous Versions available in Windows Vista and 7. To take full advantage of File History, you need an external drive for storing file backups.
See instructions for setting up and using File History.
Windows 8 does have a backup program that creates full disk images, but it is called Windows 7 File Recovery for some really strange reason. Otherwise, it is very similar to the Backup and Restore Center in Windows 7. Read about enabling and automating backups in Windows 8.
Then there's the new Refresh your PC feature. This is pretty close to a non-destructive reinstall of Windows, but you will lose your Desktop programs and Modern UI/Metro apps that were not installed from Windows Store. To keep the installed programs and apps after using Refresh your PC, create a Custom Recovery Image. You must also remember to update the image once in a while.
Read more about creating and updating a Custom Recovery Image.
4. Configure Windows Update and install Secunia PSI
Patching Windows and installed programs/apps is a major step towards more secure user experience. Fully patched computers are far less vulnerable to malware and hacking.
While Windows Update is turned on by default, it does not install updates for all Microsoft programs. You must manually enable Microsoft Update.
See instructions for enabling and configuring Microsoft Update.
So, Microsoft programs and apps are covered. Now install Secunia PSI (free for home users) to enable automatic updating of all other important programs and apps - Adobe Reader, Java SE, etc.
Read more about installing and using Secunia Personal Software Inspector.
5. Configure Windows Defender to keep away viruses and other malware
Windows 8 includes a brand new version of Windows Defender - a replacement of Microsoft Security Essentials. It provides real-time protection from all kinds of malware, but it does need some tweaking.
Read more about configuring and automating Windows Defender.
Oh, and update your Custom Recovery Image after installing the recommended programs!