Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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5/21/2014
01:30 PM
Kevin Casey
Kevin Casey
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Speed Up Your Old PC: 4 Tips

Can't bear to part with that aged clunker on your desk? Give it a tune-up with these quick tips.

8 Gadgets For The High-Tech Home
8 Gadgets For The High-Tech Home
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We've all been there at some point in our digital lives. Whether at home or the office, we all get stuck with a plodding, cranky computer. Simply opening a web browser begins to seem like an insurmountable challenge. And as for trying to do two (or more) things at once -- well, forget it.

There are a bunch of reasons for poor PC performance, but one safe bet is that you're simply using an older machine. If you're trying to run today's applications on a seven-year-old desktop running Windows XP -- don't laugh, such a beast lurks in a dark corner of my home office -- don't expect "optimal" to describe the experience.

We all have our reasons for hanging on to old PCs, but I'd hazard an educated guess that this is the most common one: New computers cost money. For individuals and businesses alike, that often means stretching out hardware investments longer than we'd like.

Whatever your reason for hanging on to an older PC, there are ways to improve its performance. Let's look at four quick ones.

[Can Microsoft's new Surface tablet really serve as a true laptop replacement? Read Microsoft Surface Pro 3: 8 Winning Features.]

But first, remember: PC performance depends on a variety of factors; your mileage may vary depending on operating system, hardware, your usage, and so forth. If there's a bit of a Windows slant here, that's because, well, I mainly use Windows.

OK, let's get to it.

1. Add RAM.
If your machine seems to groan any time you run two or more programs, "hangs" each time you ask it to do something, or generally seems to turtle its way through the day, then adding memory should top your list of PC renovations. Fortunately, you don't need to be a hardcore IT pro to do it yourself. (Of course, if you are a hardcore IT pro, you can probably do this in your sleep.) Google and YouTube are full of how-to articles and demonstration videos -- take your pick if you need a quick crash course.

This will cost some money, but only a fraction of what a new PC will run you. And it will take a little bit of time to do the upgrade, though that investment will earn you a machine that doesn't gasp for air each time you open a spreadsheet and a web browser concurrently.

Start by checking your System Properties to determine how much RAM you have. The memory vendor Crucial.com offers a free system scanner that will tell you how much memory you have and how much you can add. There's some debate about what's a "standard" or minimum amount of RAM these days. Your needs should dictate your decision. A gaming fanatic and an email-and-web user don't require the same specs, for instance. Anything less than 2 GB, though, means it's upgrade time -- 4 GB or more is preferable.

2. Scale back your startup programs.
Slow boot times are a common complaint on older systems. It could be that your machine is sagging under too many applications set to run automatically at startup. You can -- and should -- change your settings to run only

Kevin Casey is a writer based in North Carolina who writes about technology for small and mid-size businesses. View Full Bio
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mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
5/28/2014 | 4:47:12 AM
Re: Older PC's
@anon4400267247
Honestly, I would rather take most vintage hardware and just overwrite Windows with a new copy of Lubuntu or Xubuntu
 
For tech people install Linux might be easy, but for non-techies. it could be a very difficult task. They'll be better off finding someone cheap or a friend that can do it for them

An old P4 or Core Duo with 2 gb of ram runs amazing well if you were used to an old bloated Windows install.

I'm not sure a P4, but a Core Duo with 2 GB of memory can run pretty much any OS, not amazing well, but good enough.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
5/26/2014 | 12:17:31 PM
Re: SSD
"In the case where one wants to preserve their OS install, an SSD can still help with opening files faster and such, used as a data storage drive."

I don't see that point of using an SSD as a data storage drive. If you are going to get an SSD you wont see the benefit unless you boot windows off of it. If you just want to increase your HD space you can get a HDD for a fraction of the cost and much more capacity than an SSD.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
5/26/2014 | 12:12:39 PM
Re: Weak List Sorry
To Laurieanne's point some articles are meant to spark comments that add to the article. I think this is one of them. There are many ways to boost PC performance and this article mentions basic one's but the comments are meant to add to the article.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
5/26/2014 | 12:06:53 PM
Re: Not very helpful tips
@ Emilynguyen12321... The tips you suggest are all software. Those tools you mention won't do a whole lot if you don't have enough memory. The tips Kevin points out are one's that will help. Some would be completed by the tools you mention but those tools are meant for non techies. I would think most people in the IT world would rather perform these manually than hit an Optimize button if given the choice.
 
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
5/26/2014 | 11:58:53 AM
SSD possibly

You could also look into an SSD to dramatically speed up your older PC. First you need to make sure your computer isn't too old for an SSD. If you're talking about an 8 - 10 year old PC this may not be an option. If you are talking about a 4 - 5 year old PC you this may be the best thing you can do. It will cost money so you need to figure out if it's worth it or not. You can get a 128GB drive for about $120. Bigger than that and you go over $200 really quickly. You could use your old HD as the secondary drive and the SSD as your primary. That way you can still have some space.

AbeG
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AbeG,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/26/2014 | 12:51:40 AM
Re: Not very helpful tips
The best tip that I would give a novice user is:

Consider un-installing every program that you can replace with a web app instead.  Some people will find that they only need to optimize their computer to run Internet Explorer and perhaps Google Chrome.  I mention Google Chrome because it lets you install chrome apps that cannot be accessed without the chrome web browser. 

Advanced/Expert users are much more difficult to give advice that they have not already heard of.  The only thing I could think of is to recommend fine-tunning the system to a specific purpose.  For example, if the system is used as a home server, you could potentially reduce it to a command-line only system and manage it with remote consoles.

For a general purpose system, get ready to do some serious homework.  Start logging performance data and evaluate the requirements of your must-have applications vs. the physical resources that you have.  You will have two choices, either eliminate unecessary programs/processes or increase your hardware capacity by upgrading or replacing the system altogether.  If you're a kid and don't have much money, then consider taking one of the thousands of online gigs available to work up some kind of budget.
Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
5/22/2014 | 12:59:06 PM
Re: SSD
If its *that* old, its time to put it out to pasture.
boo radley
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boo radley,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/22/2014 | 12:41:12 PM
Re: SSD
There are several problems with an ssd upgrade that may not make it suitable for ths purpose. Many older machines are using a parallel interface for hd especially laptops. Compatible ssds for these are smaller and may actually run slower than a fast HD. The cost of ssds ramps up quickly for larger sizes making it cheaper to just buy a new system. negating the point of this article.
boo radley
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boo radley,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/22/2014 | 12:41:09 PM
Re: SSD
There are several problems with an ssd upgrade that may not make it suitable for ths purpose. Many older machines are using a parallel interface for hd especially laptops. Compatible ssds for these are smaller and may actually run slower than a fast HD. The cost of ssds ramps up quickly for larger sizes making it cheaper to just buy a new system. negating the point of this article.
boo radley
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boo radley,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/22/2014 | 12:24:46 PM
speed up tips
Here are more easy tips.

1. Go to control panel>system>advanced>performance options. set visual effects to "adjust for best performance" or select custom and remove anything you do not need.

2.While you are there make sure your swap file(vitual memory) set set to 2 1/2 times your ram. also set the file to a fixed size will speed up access, especially if you have 2 gig or less ram

3. Defrag your hard drive. auslogic an after market defragger also allows you to optimize your drive by moving system files to the fastest parts of the hard drive. Note on defragging: it sometimes takes two or three defrag sessions to fully defragment your hard drive.

4. Go to start run and type in msconfig this will show processes and startup options on your computer. Many printers and other devices will install a utility program with their driver. If you rarely use it uncheck it. You would be surprised how many companies like Google, Mozilla and Adobe have update programs that are sitting there sucking up resources. Caution: if you don't know what your unclicking best not to mess with it. I google the entry in question to find out what it is doing if I am uncertain.

 
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