how to improve poor performance on Dell laptop

My laptop is running windows xp pro and has 4 gb of ram... and i run multiple office applications all the time... it gets very slow and the "process running icon" comes up often.. also screens sometimes take a minute or so to refresh as i switch between applications... is there any hardware or software improvements that can help?  can i somehow upgrade the graphics?  or any other thoughts (beyond shutting down applications)... thanks.. Joe
jaramdAsked:
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andrew_aj1Commented:
First make sure you have the latest drivers for your computer. You can get this information from Dell's support site.
You may also want to disable some programs from running in the background. To do this you need to open msconfig. Go to start>run (or windowskey + r), type msconfig, and then click ok. After this go to the startup tab and you can unselect applications from starting up. You will have to reboot for this to take affect.
Hopefully this will give you back some performance. Good luck.
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jckingjcCommented:
Hi jaramd,

First of all, I want to say 4G ram is far enough for office use. It should be fine if you only open multiple office applications. How long have you used your laptop for? 1~2 years? Have you every try to do a disc clean up or Disk Defragmenter? Or complete reinstall your computer?

I suggest you clean up your disc and run a disck defragmenter first. You can do this by go "Start"->"all programs"->"Accessories" ->"system tool" You will be able to find those two progarm there.

Virus and spyware may be the problem too.  Do you have any anti-virus installed on your machine?

Try to download these free anti-spyware and anti-virus program and do a full scan on your machine.

http://www.spybot.com/en/index.html

http://www.avast.com/eng/avast_4_home.html

Another thing you can do Ctrl+Alt+Delete go to task manager and go under processes tab and manually look up the processes that consum large memy usage. Look up on the internet and see if it is a spyware and how to delete it.

Last method ~~~ Restore or reinstall your laptop. I bet it will get faster. I normally restore my PC every 6 month.

Good Luck.
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boho2112Commented:
If you are running Office 2007, it is a resource hog and will run sluggish unless you have a newer processor with multiple cores.  Office 2003 works much faster on older processors.  

You also could be running an anti-virus/anti-spyware program that is running an extra firewall and other intrusion detection software and could be gumming up the works.

Your Graphics card/processor could also be the culprit, try lower the resolution and size and even upgrade the drivers for it.
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