Section A.4. Activating Your PC and Windows Update

A.4. Activating Your PC and Windows Update

When you turn on a new PC for the very first time, Windows XP appears in its welcoming mode, leading you through the process of creating a new user account, where you'll choose a name so Windows XP recognizes you when you visit your PC.

You also need the following items when running Windows XP for the very first time on a new PC:

  • Product key . This series of 25 numbers and letters , usually printed on a sticker affixed to the paper or cardboard sleeve holding your Windows XP CD, is your ticket to Windows XP. If you install Windows XP onto a PC yourself, Windows will ask you to type this key into an onscreen box the first time you start up the PC. If you ever reinstall Windows, you'll need to type in the key yet again. Put that product key in a safe place.

    If your PC came with Windows XP preinstalled , you don't need to worry about the product key.

Tip: If you don't know your product keyand your PC's up and runningdownload a copy of KeyFinder from Magical Jelly Bean Software ( The software quickly peeks into Windows XP's hiding place, grabs the key, and displays it on the screen. Write it down and stash it in a safe place for emergencies.
  • Pen or pencil and paper . You'll probably want to write down settings, passwords, and other items for safekeeping. It's a good idea to save this information somewhere in the real worldas opposed to, say, in a document on your PCin case your computer's not working when you need to retrieve it.

  • Activation . Windows XP's copy protection, called activation (Section 16.7), keeps people from installing the same copy of Windows XP on more than one PC. If Windows XP came preinstalled on your PC, then the manufacturer probably already took care of the activation task, locking your copy of Windows XP to your newly purchased PC. But if you install Windows XP yourself on a PC, you must activate it within 30 days, which entails a simple procedure of clicking a button once you're connected to the Internet (see Section 16.7).

  • Windows Update . Once you install Windows XP, head straight for Windows Update ( and install any patches marked "Critical." (See Section 15.3 for more details on Windows Update.) This important step fixes any of the program's security problems before you expose your machine to the dark forces of the Internet for too long.

Disposing of Your Old PC

What do I do with my old PC ?

An old PC's full of new opportunities. You can create a network (see Section 14.1.1), which lets you turn your old PC's drives into extra storage tanks. If your old PC has a floppy drive and your new PC doesn't, "share" your old PC's floppy drive on the network (see Section 14.8.5). Or you might want to add a Webcam to your old PC (see Section 5.11) and let it upload photos to your Web site all day.

Or start scavenging. Rip out the old PC's hard drive, put it in your new PC (see Section 9.6.1), repartition and reformat it (see Section 9.6.4), and then save files to it directly. Add the old PC's monitor and video card to your new PC to double the size of your desktop (see Section 3.3). Or add its CD or DVD drives (see Section 10.15) to your new PC.

But if you just want to get rid of the old clunker, you have several options:

  • Craig 's List ( This increasingly popular classified ad site is a great place to list an old PC, especially if your machine's in good condition. Check the site's "wanted" ads as well; perhaps a charity is looking for a PC and you can pocket a tax credit.

  • eBay ( You can auction it off on eBay, but that entails packing your beast up and charging extra for shipping costs.

  • FreeCycle ( If nobody wants to pay for the old thing, drop by FreeCycle, a novel site for "recycling" your old goods. List your unwanted PC, and, if somebody wants it, they come over and haul it away. You may be able to put your old PC in the hands of a needy student and boost your karma to boot.

Before getting rid of your PC, be sure to erase all your old data to keep your information secure (see Section 9.8).

PCs: The Missing Manual
ISBN: 0596100930
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 206
Authors: Andy Rathbone

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