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How to Organize the Stuff that Comes with Your Laptop

Laptops, like all computers, come with lots of bits and pieces. Some of that stuff isn't junk, and you want to keep it for as long as you own the laptop. Other stuff is junk, and you can toss it. The problem you face now is that it's difficult to determine what's worth keeping and what to throw away.

Here's a handy way to approach this unpacking and pre-setup stage of your laptop's introduction to your lap:

  1. Unpack the laptop.

    Remove the laptop from any plastic bag or shrink-wrap. Don't worry about opening the laptop's lid yet (though the temptation may be great). Just set the thing on a table by itself.

  2. Find all the various hardware pieces that came with the laptop.

    Look for the power adapter, power cord, battery, extra batteries, phone cord, adapters, cables, connectors, tiny weird gizmos that you'll probably lose eventually, and other mystery pieces of equipment.

  3. Make a pile for any discs that came with the laptop.

    These include all CDs and DVDs. Those discs may contain programs that are already installed or ready for installation. Some discs might contain device drivers or special software required to run your laptop's hardware. Plus, you may see an operating system disc or system recovery disc. These are all important things!

  4. Make a pile for all the paperwork.

    There are four categories of paperwork: manuals, warranties, special offers, and weird pieces of paper, the importance of which cannot be determined.

  5. Place all the packing material back into the box.

    This material includes plastic bags, twist-ties from the cables, and those silica pouches they tell you not to eat (probably because the stuff inside tastes like candy).

  6. Set up the laptop.

    If the laptop came with a how-to manual, consider yourself lucky. Most laptops don't come with any how-to materials whatsoever. After you get it set up, you'll have a better idea of what you need to keep.

  7. After the computer is set up, divide the piles into two stacks.

    In the first stack is the laptop itself and anything you need to run the laptop (usually just the power cord). Everything else goes into the second stack, which you can store in a well-labeled box or drawer somewhere in case you need it later.

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