Congratulations on the start of an exciting new school year! We’re confident this Dell laptop will facilitate your child’s online learning success. Please remember, the use of this equipment is subject to the conditions set forth in the Use Agreement you signed. These items are school property and must be kept in good condition. Parents/guardians are solely responsible for the repair and/or replacement cost of all lost, stolen, unreturned, or damaged computer equipment, including late fees.
We are providing the following instructions to help you get your laptop ready for the first day of school. Please follow these instructions carefully as we do not have the staffing necessary to walk families through the set up process in-person.
If you need technical support during the setup of your laptop, go to www.dell.com/support. Dell cannot help you troubleshoot your Internet connection, so it is assumed that you will have Internet access if you need technical support.
In a hurry? If you’re in a hurry (e.g. classes have already started and you just picked up this laptop and your student is already behind in some assignments), you can skip the steps with this clock icon. Just remember to come back and complete them later.
Optional. Some steps are suggested, but optional, in which case you’ll see this icon. These steps are “nice to have” and are provided as a courtesy as suggested solutions to common questions. A level of computer experience is assumed for these steps, as we are not able to provide technical support for their installation.
Let’s get started!
I. Unpacking your laptop
II. First-time set up
III. Connect to the Internet
IV. Set Up Internet Explorer 11
V. Set Up and Test Blackboard Collaborate
VI. Download and Install Windows Updates
VII. Install Google Chrome (Optional)
VIII. Install Mozilla Firefox (Optional)
IX. Install Zoom (Optional)
X. Install Microsoft Security Essentials
XI. Install Office Productivity Software
XII. Create a Laptop User Account for Your Student
XIII. Set Up Parental Controls
XIV. Install LastPass (Optional)
XV. Install Cloud-based Storage (Optional)
XVI. Download and Install Dell Data Protection Security Tools (Optional)
XVII. Create Disaster Recovery Disk (Optional)
I. Unpacking your laptop
- Open the box by breaking the taped seal, if the seal has not already been broken.
- Carefully remove equipment and packing materials from the box.
- The power cord comes in two parts in two plastic bags. Remove both parts from their bags. Remove the protective plastic coating around the power transformer unit. Discard the plastic bags and protective coating.
- Read the enclosed booklet entitled ‘Warranty, Safety, and Regulatory Information’ and become familiar with the safe and proper use of your equipment
- Remove the laptop from its protective plastic bag.
- Place the laptop’s protective plastic bag, the Warranty booklet, and the ‘Resource Media’ CD in the cardboard box and SAVE THE BOX for when you will eventually return the laptop to LAU, OR in the event the laptop needs to be sent to Dell for repairs. You may also need the information on the box should you ever need to contact Dell’s Customer Support with questions about your laptop
- Assemble the power cord by connecting the two parts, and plug it into your laptop and an electric outlet.
- Consider purchasing an inexpensive surge protector. Your laptop does not come with one and is subject to damage from lightning strikes and power surges.
II. First-time set up
- Turn your laptop on by clicking the silver-grey rectangular power button in the top, left-hand corner – the one with the circle intersected by a little line on the top.
- Regional Settings: The first time any new laptop gets turned on, it asks the user a number of first-time questions. Your laptop will first display messages like, “Setup is preparing your computer for first use” and “Setup is checking video performance,” after which it will ask you to specify the “Country or region, “Time and currency,” and “Keyboard layout.” Simply accept the default options of “United States,” “English (United States),” and “US” by clicking “Next.”
- Set Up First User (Parent) Account: This is an important step. You are about to create the first user account for this laptop. This account will have “administrative rights” on this laptop, meaning that anyone logged into the computer with this account can do anything to the computer (install and remove software, create other users, establish or remove parental safety standards, etc.). We recommend that you create this first account for yourself as the parent or guardian, and then create a second, non-administrative account for your student. The downside to this is that anytime software needs to be installed, or the operating system needs an update, or your child needs to stay up past the hour the computer automatically shuts down so they can finish a homework assignment – you’ll have to provide your parental administrative password to tell the laptop you’re ok with the action about to be taken. This can be somewhat annoying, but we firmly believe parents need to oversee their child’s computer use and online habits to ensure their safety. When asked to “Type a user name” simply type your first name (or first and last name). When asked to “Type a computer name,” choose something like “LAUDell-John” if your child’s name is John. Click Next.
- Create your Parent Password: You’ll be prompted to type and retype a password for your parental account. Choose a password containing numbers, letters, and other characters that is at least 8 characters in length (that isn’t easy to guess). Choose a “password hint” that will remind you of your password if you forget but that will not allow others to guess your password. Remember: if you forget your password, neither DELL nor LAU can recover it for you. The computer will have to be restored to factory default settings and you will lose all data saved on the computer.
- Read and Accept License Terms: Read the license terms for the laptop and operating system. Check both “I accept…” boxes, then click Next.
- Set Up Windows Updates: Microsoft issues periodic updates to its products to protect against new security threats, etc. Click “Use recommended settings” when prompted.
- Set Up Your Time and Date Settings: Change your Time Zone (Pacific Time), and update the Date and Time if necessary, then click Next.
III. Connect to the Internet
- Connect via Wireless/Wired: You will next be prompted to connect to the Internet via a wireless network or using a network cable if you a wireless network is not available. In order for your child to attend class, do homework, and submit assignments, an Internet connection is required. You should already have set up a wireless network at your residence, procured a network cable to connect you to an Internet-enabling device at your residence, or arranged a location (public library, home of family/friends) where an Internet connection is available to the student. Follow the on-screen instructions to connect to the Internet now. The laptop will allow you to skip this step if a connection is not currently available, but there are important steps in the Set Up process you will not be able to complete until you have an Internet connection.
- Select “Current Location”: Once you initially specify an Internet connection, your laptop will ask you about the nature of the connection in order to establish certain safety settings for this specific connection. Follow the on-screen instructions to select the appropriate location type.
- Wait!: Once you’ve provided your laptop with this initial information, it will need a few minutes to set up your user account, prepare the desktop, etc.
You’ll see screens like this:
And once it’s done, you’ll see the “desktop”:
IV. Set Up Internet Explorer 11
A great deal of your student’s work will be done in a web browser. Your laptop comes with Internet Explorer version 11 pre-installed. The first time you use Internet Explorer, you’ll be asked to take care of some first-time tasks.
- Click the blue “E” icon in the Windows task bar that starts Internet Explorer
- Once Internet Explorer starts, select “Use recommended security, privacy, and compatibility settings”, then click OK.
- You may also be prompted to enable the Adobe PDF Link Helper. It’s fine to click Enable:
V. Set up and Test Blackboard Collaborate
LAU uses an online classroom service called Blackboard Collaborate to conduct our live class sessions and provide recordings to those who missed a session. Your student will use it nearly every day. Collaborate requires Java, a third-party software common on most computers. At this time, install Java and verify that Blackboard is working properly. This can take 5-15 minutes depending on your Internet speed
- To setup and test Blackboard Collaborate on your laptop, visit our technology FAQ page here. Click on the section entitled “How to Setup and Test Blackboard Collaborate on your Computer” and follow the instructions there. If you have trouble, consult the section entitled “Having Trouble with Blackboard Collaborate?”
This step can take an hour or two, so get started then go grab lunch or run some errands while the laptop is busy. If you’re in a rush, skip it. Just remember to come back later and complete it.
Your computer may “go to sleep” (screen goes dark) due to inactivity during this process. If that happens, just tap the mousepad (dark grey pad above two buttons below the keyboard). If that doesn’t “wake up” your computer, quickly click the Power button once.
- At the time your laptop was manufactured, the Microsoft operating system “Windows 7 Professional” was pre-installed at the factory. Since then, Microsoft has released important updates to the operating system that should be installed to maximize the convenience, safety, and security of your user experience. If you selected the “Use recommended settings” option earlier, your laptop will periodically and automatically connect to Microsoft’s servers and download and install these updates. The first time you use your computer, however, there are likely to be many updates. Rather than wait for your laptop to download and install these at a time that may be inconvenient for you (e.g. when your child is in class), we recommend installing these updates right away. To do so, click the circular “Start” icon in the bottom left-hand corner of the desktop, then click “All Programs.”
- From the menu that displays, click ‘Windows Update’
- Windows Update will open in a new window and provide information about how many updates are available. Click ‘Install updates.’
- Sometimes the software being updated requires that you accept or re-accept the licensing terms associated with that software. Read and accept the terms, then click ‘Finish.’
- Windows Update will now begin to download and install your updates. This process can take 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on your Internet speed and the number of updates. You do not need to monitor your computer while it does this. Just check back periodically to see if it’s done.
Once the updates are downloaded, Windows Update will automatically install them:
- Windows Updates will attempt to install all of the updates. It’s not unusual for some errors to occur. Sometimes an update requires a prerequisite update which must be installed first, or sometimes system files are in use and can’t be updated until you reboot. Consequently, you may need to run Windows Update multiple times. Reboot the computer once Windows Update has installed as many updates as it can, then repeat steps 1-6 until there are no more updates to perform. If an error does not resolve itself you are probably ok to ignore it. If you are concerned about the error, contact Dell technical support at www.dell.com/support.
While rebooting, your laptop may display a screen like this:
Once you reboot, rerun Windows Update. It may display a screen similar to this:
Unlike the first time you run Windows Update, this time you’ll need to select the updates you want installed. Click the “1 important update is available” link:
Check the box to the left of “Name”
This will select any and all important updates. Next, click the “Optional” link from the left-hand menu, then click OK:
Your updates are now selected. Click “Install updates”. As mentioned above, once finished, reboot and repeat steps 1-6 until there are no more updates available.
Your laptop comes with Internet Explorer version 11 pre-installed. Not all browsers are created equal, and sometimes unexpected behavior occurs when using web-based programs and simply switching to another web browser fixes the problem. We recommend installing and using Google Chrome and/or Mozilla Firefox. In our experience, Internet Explorer seems more prone to issues than these free browsers. We especially recommend installing Google Chrome if you have a Gmail email account.
- To install Google Chrome, open Internet Explorer and type “google.com/chrome” in the address (URL) window:
- Click “Download Chrome”:
- Check the two checkboxes on the Terms of Service screen and then click “Accept and Install”:
- If you are prompted with a Security Warning, click Run:
- We recommend making Google Chrome your default browser.
Your laptop comes with Internet Explorer version 11 pre-installed. Not all browsers are created equal, and sometimes unexpected behavior occurs when using web-based programs and simply switching to another web browser fixes the problem. We recommend installing and using Google Chrome and/or Mozilla Firefox. In our experience, Internet Explorer seems more prone to issues than these free browsers.
- To install Mozilla Firefox, open Internet Explorer and type “mozilla.org/firefox” in the address (URL) window:
- Click the Free Download link:
- Click Run if asked to verify that you want to run the downloaded application:
- Windows will run a security scan on the downloaded application:
- On the Firefox Setup screen, we suggest unchecking the “Make Firefox my default browser” check box, but this is a matter of preference. Click Install:
- Firefox will take a minute or two to install:
- When asked if you want to import any settings, select “Don’t import anything,” then click Next:
- You may at some point be prompted by Firefox (or any browser for that matter) whether you want to make it your default browser. Pick one that you like (we suggest Chrome), and make that the default:
Zoom is our back-up classroom. If for some reason there is a Blackboard outage, mentors will email their students to tell them to meet in Zoom instead. Each mentor has a unique Zoom room link found in the course syllabus in Canvas. We suggest that you install Zoom now, rather than when you receive a mentor’s email so your student can get into class faster.
- To install Zoom, go to zoom.us/download and click Download
- Follow the on-screen instructions to install Zoom.
Windows 7 comes pre-installed and pre-configured with a free Firewall. Microsoft also provides a free suite of anti-virus/anti-spyware tools in its Security Essentials Suite. You can choose to purchase and install an anti-virus of your own choosing, but if nothing else, you should at least install Microsoft’s free tools.
- To install Microsoft Security Essentials, go to http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security-essentials-download and click Download Now
- Follow the on-screen instructions to install and configure Microsoft Security Essentials.
- At one point, you will be asked to uninstall any existing anti-virus software. LAU laptops do not come with any pre-installed anti-virus software, so you can simply continue the installation at that point.
- As Security Essentials finishes installing you will be prompted to “Scan my computer for potential threats after getting the latest updates.” We recommend that you do this, but if you’re pressed for time, you can always do it later.
- The next time you reboot after installing Security Essentials, Windows 7 may perform a “Check Disk” utility on your hard drive that looks like the screen below. Not to worry–just let Windows 7 do it’s thing. You can resume using your laptop normally once it finishes.
Your student will need a full office productivity software suite to complete their LAU homework assignments (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations). If your family has an available Microsoft Office license (with Word, Excel and PowerPoint), feel free to install that. Microsoft Office is the premier office productivity software solution on the market, but there are suitable, free, open-source alternatives available that will work just fine as well. We recommend installing Libre Office. Alternately, you could install Apache Open Office, which is very similar to Libre Office. It doesn’t really matter which you chose, but if you’re on the fence, go with Libre Office.
- To install Libre Office, go to www.libreoffice.org. Click the Download link and follow the on-screen instructions. The download and installation can take 5-20 minutes, depending on your Internet speed.
XII. Create a Laptop User Account for your Student
For your child’s safety, you should create a standard (non-adminstrator) user account on the laptop for them to use.
- To create a new, standard user account, click on the circular “Start” menu button in the left-hand, bottom corner of the desktop.
- Click “Control Panel”
- Under “User Accounts and Family Safety,” click “Add or remove user accounts”
- Click “Create a new account”
- For the “New account name,” type the first name of your student. Leave the “Standard user” button selected and click “Create Account.” Alternatively, you can make your student’s account an Administrator account while you do all the configuration and installing, and then once done, change the account type to Standard. This may reduce the number of times you get prompted to “approve” the many updates and installs to follow.
- Click on the newly created account, then click “Change the password.” Change the password to something of your student’s choosing.
- Log in to your student’s user account by clicking the circular “Start” menu button again, then click the little triangle to the right of “Shut Down.” Select “Log off” from the menu that appears.
- Once logged off, click on your student’s name/icon on the user screen and logon to their account. You will see a similar “Preparing Your Desktop…” process like you did for your account.
Skill Level: This step is for users familiar with the installation and configuration of software programs on Windows 7 computers. We do not provide step-by-step instructions for this process, nor can we provide technical support for those who need help installing it. If you need help, please refer to documentation on the corresponding Microsoft website.
For your child’s safety we highly recommend that you use Microsoft’s free Family Safety software to filter inappropriate web sites, establish hours-of-the-day use limits, and other helpful settings. Once set up, you can check on your child’s browsing history or change their settings from any computer with an Internet connection. Note that if you do change their settings, they will need to reboot the laptop for the changes to take effect.
- To enable parental controls, you must install Family Safety. Click here for instructions. The process is not a simple one-step install, so be patient. The benefits of the software make the somewhat cumbersome installation and configuration process well worth it.
- Family Safety is part of the Microsoft Essentials software suite. By default, it will try to install software you don’t really need at LAU. We recommend that you install Family Safety only. You may want to also install Microsoft One Drive if your child doesn’t have a Gmail or Dropbox account for storing files in the cloud, rather than on your laptop’s hard drive, if you don’t want to set up a Gmail or Dropbox account for them.
- Once Microsoft Essentials finishes its download, run Family Safety by clicking on the Start menu (circular button in the bottom left corner of your desktop), then “All Programs,” then scroll down to “Windows Live” and select “Windows Live Family Safety”
- Follow the on-screen instructions. You have to have or create a Microsoft sign-in to use the software. Try doing so with your existing email address and see if Microsoft accepts it. If not, click the sign-up link to create a Microsoft login.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to link your student’s laptop user account to Family Safety.
Skill Level: This step is for users familiar with the installation and configuration of software programs on Windows 7 computers. We do not provide step-by-step instructions for this process, nor can we provide technical support for those who need help installing it. If you need help, please refer to documentation on lastpass.com.
If your student doesn’t already have several usernames and passwords they have to keep track of, they soon will. For maximum convenience and security, we recommend using a free utility called LastPass. LastPass generates difficult passwords for you, stores all your passwords for you, and automatically logs you in to your login-protected accounts. It also makes it easy to access your accounts from any internet-enabled computer. Your LastPass username and password really are the last username and password you’ll have to remember. Note: LastPass must be installed separately for each user on the laptop.
- To install LastPass, go to lastpass.com and click the Download Free link:
- LastPass will download to your computer. Click the installer to begin the installation process.
- Follow the on-screen instructions (not included here).
Skill Level: This step is for users familiar with the installation and configuration of software programs on Windows 7 computers. We do not provide step-by-step instructions for this process, nor can we provide technical support for those who need help installing it. If you need help, please refer to documentation on the corresponding product website.
We highly recommend that you set up a cloud-based file storage solution for your child. The benefits are that your child’s documents (e.g. homework files) are:
- stored “in the cloud” (i.e. on the Internet). If your laptop’s hard drive crashes, none of your student’s files stored in the cloud will be lost.
- synchronized automatically to your child’s laptop
- accessible even if the laptop doesn’t have Internet connectivity
- accessible from any Internet enabled device including other computers, smart phones, and tablets
- stored to a second location
The cloud-based storage shouldn’t be used to store large files like music, photos, or videos. These files take up the “free” space quickly, requiring you to purchase additional space. Such files should be stored directly on the laptop’s hard drive.
Please note that the free versions of the cloud-based file storage solutions described here do not provide real back-up functionality. If your child deletes a file, it is possibly gone forever. You need an actual back-up solution that stores versions or “snap-shots” of your hard drive at periodic intervals on a separate hard drive or network location (see the section below on Dell Data Protection Security Tools)
If your child has a Gmail account, install Google Drive on their laptop user account. If your child doesn’t have a Gmail account, here are some other excellent, free choices:
- Microsoft OneDrive (which can be installed as part of the Microsoft Essentials suite mentioned earlier)
Skill Level: This step is for users familiar with the installation and configuration of software programs on Windows 7 computers. We do not provide step-by-step instructions for this process, nor can we provide technical support for those who need help installing it. If you need help, please refer to documentation provided by Dell.
Sometime during your initial experience with your laptop, you may be prompted to download and install the Dell Data Protection Security Tools. You only need to do this if you plan to back up your laptop’s hard drive data to an external hard drive or network resource, which is a good idea if your child will be working with large files like music, photos, or videos. Our understanding is that you can also use Dell Data Protection Security Tools to back up your child’s cloud-based files.
- Click ‘Download Now’, then the ‘Accept’ check box and then the “I Agree” button. Don’t be alarmed by references to “Your Digital Purchases.” Windows 7 is referring to software that comes included with LAU’s purchase of your laptop. You will not be billed or charged for this software – it’s already paid for and just needs to be downloaded and installed.
- Windows 7 will now begin to download and install the Dell Data Protection Security Tools. This process can take 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on your Internet speed. You do not need to monitor your computer while it does this. Just check back periodically to see if it’s done.
Skill Level: This step is for users familiar with the installation and configuration of software programs on Windows 7 computers. We do not provide step-by-step instructions for this process, nor can we provide technical support for those who need help installing it. If you need help, please refer to documentation provided during installation.
Sometimes, within the lifespan of a laptop, something goes really wrong and you have to restore the hard drive to its original factory-installed state. This is faster than sending your computer back to Dell or LAU or waiting for a new one. We recommend you set up a “restore” disk or drive.
You may be prompted some time during your possession of the laptop with a screen that looks like this. With a blank DVD disk you can follow the on-screen instructions to create a Factory Reinstall Disk:
Otherwise, you can create a Reinstall/Restore disk at any time, either with a 16GB USB drive or a blank DVD disk. If you have a blank 16GB USB Drive you can use the ‘Dell Backup and Recovery’ program:
If instead you have a blank DVD disk, you can use Microsoft’s program: