Getting with the program on a new computer

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Adam Darack is the IT administrator for the town of Edgartown. He will be writing regularly about the technological issues facing Island business owners. Got a question? Send it to onisland@mvtimes.com with the subject line “Dear Geek.”

Dear Geek,

I’m looking at getting a new computer, but not looking forward to having to install a bunch of my programs one by one. Any tricks of the trade to help me make this quick and easy? I’ll make sure my email is secure, and I’m just looking to make my computer experience great again.

Thanks.

Hillary Trump

Dear HT,

Thanks for writing in. There’s no debate: This can be done more easily. Installing a number of programs can take a while, and is far less fun than watching YouTube parodies of political candidates dancing. It’s important to get a new computer set up correctly, though, so I’ll happily chime in on what I do to cut down the time it takes to get a new computer up, running, and productive. A new computer needs antivirus software, web browsers, utilities, and a host of other programs installed. It’s not a terribly difficult task to install them one by one, but there is an easier way.

I used to do it all the hard way. I had a list of about 20 programs to install on every new computer, and it was time-consuming. Then I stumbled across a program called Ninite. This program allows you to select programs you want to install from a predefined list, and if you are using it just at home, it’s free. The pro version costs $20 a month for up to 100 computers, and has more options, such as an increased selection of programs to choose from, such as Adobe Flash (not included in the free version). The most useful feature of the pro version is the ability to run the program on one computer on your network and have it update or install (if needed) software applications on all of the computers on the same network in one fell swoop. In fancier networks running a domain controller, there are additional ways to do all of this, but I’m focusing on the reading audience who don’t happen to have an IT staff at their disposal but instead likely has a person wearing many hats, geek being one of them.

Here’s my list of programs that I’ll typically install using Ninite Pro, as categorized by their use (Google them for a description of each):

Web browsers: Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox

FTP client: Filezilla (if you don’t know what FTP is, skip this one)

Video/audio programs: Spotify and VLC

Runtimes: Flash, Java, and .NET

Imaging: Picasa and GIMP

Other: Google Earth

Documents: Adobe Reader, LibreOffice (a free MS Office alternative)

Compression: 7-zip

Security: AVG, Malwarebytes

Utilities: Teamviewer, ImgBurn, WinDirStat, and Classic Shell

Filehippo.com, an alternative to Ninite, is a great website where you can easily download each of these and many other programs. Their site offers an App Manager tool to assist with updating these programs after they have been installed (not installing from scratch as a bulk action). Ninite will install the programs all at once instead of looking to update what you already have, which is what the Filehippo tool does. Ninite seems to do it less obtrusively, without prompting you to click “OK” for each update. For Mac users, a program called Get Mac Apps does the same job, but specifically for Macs.

I don’t work for or have association with Ninite, FileHippo, or Get Mac Apps. I’m just a regular geek who is sharing my experiences after using some of these products.

Hillary Trump, thank you for writing in, and at the very least, making the past few months especially entertaining.

The Geek