When purchasing a new computer, or reinstalling Windows, one of the first things I do is change Internet Explorer’s default home page. By default, Microsoft sets the home page to MSN, which has had its fair share of security risks in the past. I always ask myself, why take the extra risk when I haven’t yet installed any other browser, or anti-virus, or possibly a firewall and go to a unsecure website from the get go. Instead, I opt to change the home page of IE before I even start IE. And, you can too … here’s how.

First, before you open Internet Explorer for the first time, open up the Windows Start Menu / Start Screen and type internet options in the search box. Select the option Internet Options to display the dialogue box.

Note: If you are using Windows 8, you will still search internet options in the start screen, BUT, you must navigate to settings (on the right pane) and then click Internet Options.

Once done, you should get the following dialogue box (click on image to make it larger, if needed):

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See the highlighted text? This will automatically point your browser to MSN.com (actually, it first directs to Microsoft.com, then forwards you to one of their MSN servers) … a potentially risky environment. Instead, I like to leave this option blank and instead navigate directly to the Microsoft Security Essentials download page. You could, of course, set IE’s home page to something like Google or another preferred search engine, but this also has had it’s issues with security in the past. To be safe, I opt to just leave it blank and navigate to the MSE download site manually.

If for any reason you wish to go back to the original settings after you’ve installed your favorite security tools, just access this dialogue box again and click the Use default button. As always, have fun and be safe.