: Computer Question



firstimecaddi
09-11-10, 01:55 PM
I have an older laptop that I want to add a little pep to. It is a Toshiba Satellite it runs an Intel Celeron with a 1.8GHz CPU and it has 512 MB of RAM. MS Windows XP, Version 2002 with Service Pack 3. What can I do to make this machine run a little quicker and smoother.

Well because of my location its either dial up or satellite internet service. I refuse to spring for the sat service, so yes, I connect with dial up. The connection speed is not that great to begin (the best I seen is 33kbs) with but I believe the computer can perform a bit better with some coaxing. My greatest dissatisfaction is the rate at which pages load, constant "freezing" and regularly losing my internet connection while surfing. I do not even bother to go to sites like youtube and such...

With my present stats what exactly can I do to achieve the required results. And no I am not looking to get anything new. My computer is used only for occaisional word processing, and internet surfing.

mhamilton
09-11-10, 02:37 PM
Not too much you can do to increase your connection speed. Are you using Internet Explorer? Try downloading Mozilla Firefox (Google that, it's a free download, much faster than IE). That by itself will usually make a noticeable improvement in browsing speed.

RippyPartsDept
09-11-10, 02:37 PM
Loading linux on there will get you the most performance out of the machine. Windows XP sp3 really needs more than 512 ram to work well... plus windows just gets slower over time and you have to re-install... plus windows xp isn't going to be supported in another year

so i would recommend you switch over to linux. i recommend the Linux Mint (http://linuxmint.com/) distribution
(you can try it off the 'live' cd before installing on the hard drive although it runs much slower off of the cd you can at least see what you're going to get)

although you're on dialup so getting the cd will be the hard part (unless you can get on some open wifi or something)

iowasevillests
09-11-10, 02:57 PM
I'd recommend upgrading RAM, it should be accessible from an access panel on the bottom of the computer. You probably have 2 slots, I'd recommend getting a 2 x 1GB kit(2 sticks at 1GB each) and installing those. Since the laptop is older the RAM is gonna be a bit pricier then new RAM, probably gonna be 150 bucks for the pair. But it should make a huge improvement. Besides for that I would recommend a fresh install of whatever OS you want to run be it XP or one of the linux flavors.

firstimecaddi
09-11-10, 03:13 PM
How doable is this?

Besides for that I would recommend a fresh install of whatever OS you want to run be it XP or one of the linux flavors.
What happens to the present OS if I were to do this. Does it have to be uninstalled?

jcresciSTS
09-11-10, 03:40 PM
Everything will be erased. Reformat the harddrive when you install, like getting a brand new computer. Save any files you need to an external harddrive, if you don't have one they can be had for $80 and up. Great to have if you have a lot of files that are important since computers are unpredictable.

This is a great free program to clean up windows, I'm sure you have a lot of old unnecessary files on there that can be deleted and free up disk space. http://www.brothersoft.com/ccleaner-pro-free-402781.html ...I personally use Tuneup Utilities 2010 but this program does the same exact thing

iowasevillests
09-11-10, 05:50 PM
How doable is this?

What happens to the present OS if I were to do this. Does it have to be uninstalled?

What you'll need to do is find all the factory discs for your programs(Office, Windows etc) and make sure you have the activation key for them as well. The activation key for XP is probably located on a sticker on the bottom of the laptop. After you have copied all files you need to an external hard drive as suggested before(do this even if you don't reinstall, HDD's do fail), pop in the XP disc, restart and it should start you on an install screen with a series of prompts. You may need to change boot settings(often a F key, should prompt at bottom of screen on startup) to change boot priorities so it'll start off the CD and not HDD.

CadillacCastle
09-11-10, 06:17 PM
watch for sales at Walmart because last year at this time my brother bought a 17" Toshiba laptop for 350.00 plus tax. 2 weeks ago his warranty ran out because he had a 1 year warranty. Last year on black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, Walmart had 2 laptops for 199.00 and 1 for 299.00 but sales started at 4:00 AM. I paid 1270.00 for a 17 Dell with 3 year added warranty. I still wish I had bought 3 or 4 Toshibas for the cost of my Dell. My Dell has some features the Toshiba didn't have like facial log in feature and a lit keyboard with a 9 cell battery and the 3 year warranty is what cost the most. Look out for a deal on a new laptop. Have you looked at www.newegg.com

CIWS
09-11-10, 08:02 PM
I have an older laptop that I want to add a little pep to. It is a Toshiba Satellite it runs an Intel Celeron with a 1.8GHz CPU and it has 512 MB of RAM. MS Windows XP, Version 2002 with Service Pack 3. What can I do to make this machine run a little quicker and smoother.

Upgrading the amount of RAM in the machine is about all you could do, hardware wise. Reinstalling the OS will probably help some, but some optimization software will probably help about as much.

Installing Linux I would not recommend. That is for those users with some degree of knowledge about unix based OS's and not your average computer user.


Well because of my location its either dial up or satellite internet service. I refuse to spring for the sat service, so yes, I connect with dial up.

The internet has not been designed to work with dial up connections for years now. Pages are built and designed for broadband users. If dial-up is all you're going to have, your internet browsing just isn't going to be a fast evolution no matter what hardware is on this end of the modem.


New laptops running 2+Gigs of RAM with a faster CPU and Windows 7 can be bought these days for 300-350.00. However depending upon how your modem interfaces to the computer a new machine may not have the correct ports anymore. If it's a USB modem, you're still good to go. If you're using a modem built into the laptop, the more modern laptops do not even come with dial up modems any more. You'd have to look around to find one and it may be cost prohibitive.

drewsdeville
09-11-10, 11:36 PM
Whatever you do here, I wouldn't recommend sticking any money into such a dated laptop. Ram prices aren't as low as they were a year or two ago. A ram upgrade would probably cost more than the machine is worth at this point :/

If you really want a hardware increase, I suggest buying a new machine. Even todays low end machines are quite capable of regular day-to-day activities and are cheaper than ever.

A new machine will be the cheapest way to upgrade the OS and hardware all at once. Upgrading your current laptop one piece at a time (HD, ram, and Windows 7 are about all you can do) will probably cost you over $200. Like stated above, you can get an entry level machine, which will be faster than an upgraded version of your current, for $300.

Submariner409
09-12-10, 09:29 AM
You have dial-up.............Have you called Verizon or AT&T to have your phone line tested for possible DSL service ?

We're in deep woods out a country road, so no satellite or cable is possible - it's DSL or dialup. Our Verizon DSL makes dial-up look foolish, as well as freeing up the phone line for normal telephone use: DSL is extremely high frequency, so included line filters allow you to use your telephones 24/7.

Submariner409
09-12-10, 09:34 AM
You have dial-up.............Have you called Verizon or AT&T to have your phone line tested for possible DSL service ?

We're in deep woods out a country road, so no satellite or cable is possible - it's DSL or dialup. Our Verizon DSL makes dial-up look foolish, as well as freeing up the phone line for normal telephone use: DSL is extremely high frequency, so included line filters allow you to use your telephones 24/7.

BTW, this is being typed on an old 60G Satellite M35X, Intel, XP/SP3 - about the same setup as yours - but with a G of Ultra memory on the board.............. no problems.

firstimecaddi
09-12-10, 10:28 AM
I did the online test with Verizon....no go. Have not checked with ATT.

What is ultra memory?

drewsdeville
09-12-10, 10:36 AM
Ultra is just a brand name.

For all practical purposes, memory is the same across brands, they just carry different warranties. Lately, most brands have been using Hynix chips on their memory modules.

If you upgrade memory, just get whatever's the cheapest at the time.

RippyPartsDept
09-12-10, 10:37 AM
Installing Linux I would not recommend. That is for those users with some degree of knowledge about unix based OS's and not your average computer user.

over the past few years i have switched novice computer users over to linux without any problems really

if all you do is check email, surf the web, and use office programs then linux really is perfect for you (and your hardware situation)

but if you need any programs that are windows-only you're best to stick with windows even though that's going to be tough at this point too

and I agree that your internet speed is really the crucial part of the equation here right now... i just cringe at the thought of dialup

RightTurn
09-12-10, 12:18 PM
The internet has not been designed to work with dial up connections for years now. Pages are built and designed for broadband users. If dial-up is all you're going to have, your internet browsing just isn't going to be a fast evolution no matter what hardware is on this end of the modem.



^^This.

Submariner409
09-12-10, 12:51 PM
Ultra is just a brand name.
If you upgrade memory, just get whatever's the cheapest at the time.

Surf www.tigerdirect.com or www.newegg.com for computer toys.

drewsdeville
09-12-10, 02:38 PM
Surf www.tigerdirect.com or www.newegg.com for computer toys.

:thumbsup:

TigerDirect has been becoming less competitive in recent years with diminishing selection and not-so-competitive sales. I'm pretty sure they are getting their ass handed to them by newegg, who is becoming quite the giant.

Fry's is also has a great online store.

Jesda
09-12-10, 02:40 PM
Find some used ram off ebay to shove in there.

Do a clean install of the OS.

Failing that, keep it in the bathroom to play minesweeper on the can.

Sevillian273
09-12-10, 07:20 PM
Put all your personal data on a flash drive, reinstall the operating system, and put it on craigslist. Laptops have an excellent resale value. Then you can put the money into a new laptop or a used one with better specs. Dumping $150 into such an old machine is pointless and you will not get that money back even if you sell it with the upgraded memory.

RippyPartsDept
09-12-10, 07:25 PM
if you've got any personal info on the drive you should think about formatting it (or re-installing the OS as advised above, which will format the disc) before selling the laptop

Sevillian273
09-12-10, 07:35 PM
If you dont want to go through all of that and dont want to spend any money then upgrading to Firefox, using ccleaner, and defragmenting the hard drive will yield the most improvement. Also it wouldnt hurt to download and run something like MalwareBytes to make sure there isnt any spyware/adware/viruses taking up resources. Windows XP is a malware sponge.

Hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete and see how many processes are running. I'd be willing to bet that there are at least a few things that dont need to be running all the time.

RippyPartsDept
09-12-10, 08:47 PM
malwarebytes in safemode with networking has really done a lot of good work on machines i've been working on - doesn't fix the worst stuff but fixes most

if you don't know how to get into safemode it's easy - just hit F8 while booting up (if you get the windows logo with the scrolling progress bar you didn't hit F8 soon enough just restart and try again)
you want safemode /w networking so you can download malwarebytes and so it can get updates before running a full scan

iowasevillests
09-12-10, 09:10 PM
If his options are dialup or satellite, I agree with his choice of dialup. I had satellite and almost dropped back to dialup until I found out that DSL and recently been turned on in the area. Your best bet for DSL internet is checking with whoever has your land line phone service, if you live out in the boonies like I do they're likely the only ones who will be able to set you up, they're hitting me for an extra 25 a month for service extender because I'm far enough away from a switch station, but to me its worth it.

firstimecaddi
09-12-10, 10:32 PM
wow lots of info guys.....based on the responses my best course of action is to upgrade RAM. or go new

drewsdeville
09-12-10, 11:25 PM
Laptop resale has been down since that industry has seen major improvements in recent years. Prices of new machines have been dropping to record levels, thus making used machines worthless.

You can get netbooks for $200, brand spankin new, that are more capable of your current machine. That said, if you stick any ram in there, the ram will probably be worth more than the machine whole...which is why you see a lot of people parting used laptops out.

Jesda's idea of used ram might be ok, but I personally don't care to buy used computer hardware from some unknown guy on Ebay halfway across the country(seems EVERY ram ad says it's been tested with memtest for 48 hours...don't believe all of that). Maybe see if you can find something on Craigslist.

Submariner409
09-13-10, 02:34 PM
wow lots of info guys.....based on the responses my best course of action is to upgrade RAM. or go new

.........if you read between the lines, a new RAM install will only make the computer faster - it will NOT make the dial-up or surfing or page loads any faster. You're already limited by dial-up, not RAM.

Your second paragraph in Post #1 indicates as much..........at 33 kb/s it takes forever to load even one banner ad, much less the web page.

codewize
09-13-10, 06:43 PM
Sorry I missed this earlier. I think you have some good advice here.

512 megs of RAM is not enough for XP. Funny though I'm starting to see computers just like yours coming out of the woodwork.

Kick it up to at least 1 gb and you'll see a big improvement, assuming the system is clean and in otherwise good health.

Although non of that will increase your connection speed you may be happier with the browsers performance.