Get Ready!

April 27, 2018

Are you getting a new computer? Things will go smoother if you do a little prep work.

How Good is Your Connection?


How good is your connection?

You are not going to have a good computing experience unless you have a good connection. A slow, unreliable connection is especially frustrating when setting up a new computer.

Your computer is new to you, but who knows how long it’s been in the box before you brought it home? You’re going to need to download Windows Update, software for your printers, and maybe Microsoft Office. What else? An antivirus product? An email program? A decent browser like Google Chrome or Firefox?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started to set up a new computer and found Internet Connection from Hell. You really want to get this squared away BEFORE you bring home that shiny new computer.

Start by discovering what speed you’re paying for.

“High speed” is not a speed, it is the name of a family of products. To find out what you’re paying for, look at your bill. It depends on who your provider is, but generally there is a number after the word Internet on the bill and that’s the speed. If you’re not paying for at least 15 MBps, you have a slow connection. Consider contacting your provider and checking what it would cost to increase your speed.

To discover if you’re actually getting what you’re paying for, run a speed test as described here. If there’s consistently a disparity between what you get and what you pay for, contact your provider to get it sorted out.

To learn more about all this, check this beautifully written explanation over at The Gateway website. You’ll discover how to figure out what you actually need based on what devices you have, and you’ll seesome helpful guidelines about where to place your router to get the best coverage.


How good is your memory?

Passwords are irritating and confusing. To lessen the irritation and confusion, write down your passwords. All your passwords. For everything. In one place. Remember where you put the thing with your passwords in it.

Do you know your email password?

A great thing about email programs is that they remember our email passwords so we don’t have to enter the password every time we want to send or receive email. Same thing with browsers. We can teach them to remember our banking passwords, our Facebook logins, and our library cards.

That’s super convenient until you move to a new email program, browser, or new computer. Want to get that new laptop onto your wireless network? Easy peasy. Just enter your Wi-Fi password. We can easily set up your wireless printer with that password, too. All we need is the password.

I’ve spent many hours with my fingers hovering over the keyboard while my customers sort through piles of Post-It notes, scraps of paper, and cocktail napkins. (Yes. Really.) People, please write down your passwords, and write down what they’re for! Some of those scraps of paper just had passwords on them, but no indication as to what the password was for.

There are plenty of systems for keeping track of passwords. The easiest one is a pen or pencil, a piece of paper, and a place to put the piece of paper.

Email Perfectstorm Changed May 2015
Facebook IllNeverTell
Wi-Fi My_Network Ph0neh0me4$$$$ Home network
Apple ID AbbeyR0ad!


You can get as fancy as you want but simple is better. Whatever you use, keep it up to date!


How good is your backup?

Holy smokes, folks. Please backup your stuff regularly. Last month recent backups saved the day for more than one of my customers who had to unexpectedly get a new computer. Years of email survived the catastrophe. Read more here.



Yes. I am retiring from fixing computer at the end of June. I will almost certainly continue writing about technology. Still figuring out the details. Thank you all for your messages of congratulations and kind words about the column.

Yes! You can still sponsor me in the June 24 Ride Don’t Hide event. Here’s the link.  We exceeded expectations and moved the bar higher. Thank you all!


Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. She will retire in June, 2018. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to

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© Cate Eales 2018 – All Rights Reserved
This column also appeared on April 30, 2018