Your questions answered: Why should I wipe the hard drive of a brand new computer
For a long time, we’ve been recommending that all new devices are stripped back completely when fresh out of the box. That might sound a little strange – you’d expect that a brand new computer would work brilliantly from day one – but there are a few reasons why wiping and starting from scratch is a good idea. Here’s our MD James Ratcliff’s advice…
“You might be surprised to know that getting a new business computer should involve more than opening the box and walking through the setup wizard. Although your laptop has come straight from the manufacturer with “everything it needs”, you might not know that it also comes loaded with bloatware – software that’s additional to the operating system, installed by the manufacturer – and the version of Windows is probably quite out of date. In fact, the fastest, most reliable, and secure way to prepare your new computer is to wipe it completely as the first thing you do.
“Microsoft even have a name for this type of installation – they call it the Signature Edition of Windows – and even sell Signature PCs, free of third-party software. According to Microsoft, Signature PCs start up to 104% faster, shut down 35% faster, and have 28 minutes more battery life than the same devices with bloatware.
“It’s clear that there are performance benefits to ridding your computer of any manufacturer-installed unnecessary software, but there are cybersecurity ramifications, too. Whether Cyber Essentials or any other international cybersecurity framework, having only the correct software, and having it all up to date and supported is a fundamental requirement. By removing bloatware and only installing what you need, you meet this requirement from day one.
“Additional software also increases the risk of errors, blue screens and unpredictable behaviour. If you can’t get online but you need our help with an issue, we’ll usually try to talk you through it over the phone. These kinds of support situations are confounded by things like unusual vendor Wi-Fi utility behaviour. In truth, many blue screen errors and general issues with computers can be attributed to extra software, which most people don’t keep updated. By removing the unnecessary software and doing a clean install directly from Microsoft on the drive, even on a brand-new machine, you remove a lot of these risks.
“Let me end on a general note of caution. While the first thing you may think of when buying a laptop is the price and features, it’s worth considering a computer is just a tool. The reason for having devices, operating systems and applications in a business is to enable you to access to your data and to use that data to (hopefully) make money.
“Let your focus be the productivity of staff. If a computer runs well over a three- or four-year lifecycle, it should allow you to get the most out of your employees’ time and efforts. Standardisation, along with a predictable, secure build, is a worthwhile upfront investment that will pay dividends over the lifecycle of your devices.”