If you were lucky enough to receive a new computer over the holidays, you've probably wasted no time unearthing the shiny new PC from its layers of packaging. But, before you begin Web surfing, downloading content and selecting the perfect screen saver, there are some important steps you need to take to make sure your new gift is secure, up-to-date and not in any need of computer repair.

1. Create a user account and password. Nowadays, every computer should have a password, even if you're sure that you're the only one who uses it. Unfortunately, having an account and password won't protect the computer from every hacker, but it will certainly slow down the average thief. Make sure your password is difficult, by incorporating numbers, punctuation and capitalization, if possible.

2. Install additional antivirus software. All new PCs come with some antivirus protection, but unfortunately, many don't come with enough. Advanced protective software that is extremely thorough without slowing your computer can bought for under $100, but there are also some free downloadable programs, as well.

3. Clean out the system. I know that may sound strange, because you just bought the computer, but many system vendors install a lot of unnecessary software on the hard drive at the factory, which can take up space and slow down the computer's performance. To uninstall these programs, or "crapplications" as PC Magazine writer Eric Griffith refers to them, simply download an uninstaller, like SlimComputer.

4. Transfer your files. Before getting rid of your old computer, make sure you have saved all of your pictures, music and other personal files onto either cloud storage or an external hard drive. Then, after your new PC is set up and secure, begin transferring the files to the new computer.

If you are experiencing any problems with your new PC, don't hesitate to contact the company you purchased it from. If the damages aren't covered by warranty, a local Maryland computer repair service might be a good option, as well.