laptop speed

i have an ibm thinkpad, xp pro, 256 mb ram, that i recently bought refurbished. when i have several applications running - IE, notepad, word, windows defender - there is a long pause when i move from one application to the next. is there something external that is low-cost and relatively easy to set up that i can get to improve the speed?

How does Prefetcher work?:

it looks like external RAM may or may not exist?:

im guessing an external hard drive would not speed anything up?
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You could do with more RAM, but firstly, use ccleaner to clear out excess junk, then defraggler to organise your hard disk, i've found they really make a difference, plus, they're both totally free!
B HCommented:
you're probably not bottlenecked by things on the hard drive (permanent storage) but you are severely limited by RAM.

head over to and run their scanner tool, they will give you your options to upgrade, and price.

you might consider uninstalling windows defender, and any unnecessary software - it depends how you want to balance safety versus functionality.

your slow speed is mostly coming from lack of memory...  but if your processor is a 10 year old Celeron, well, there's you're problem

what's the model of your machine?
The only thing that will make much difference to performance is a hardware upgrade. In this case that means RAM. There is no such thing as external RAM. All such devices are seen by the computer as a disk drive, and on such an old system probably not a very fast one either.

The key to understanding Prefetch is understanding virtual memory. If you understand that it is almost obvious, if not you have no hope. This is a complex topic and I will not attempt to explain it here. Prefetch does improve performance, by how much depends on the system and the workload. It needs no user involvement whatsoever.
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my 2 cents :
 - look  how much ram your laptop accepts and try to upgrade it to 1 GB (you will notice anice speed increase already with 512 Mb)
 - check the disk drive size, and free space; for good operation, you should have 15% always free - if not use an external drive, or make more free space on this one.
You can run XP with that little RAM, yes, but for practical purposes the LEAST you should put into it is 512MB, optimally 1GB. If the laptop is so old that you can't find memory for it or that it won't support memory that large, you need to roll back to Windows 2000.

Also, make sure to adjust your paging file appropriately to be 1.5 times the size of your RAM.

And no, there is nothing external that will upgrade performance of your computer. You might be thinking of "ReadyBoost" technology that they introduced with Vista, which basically allows you to use a flash drive as more RAM, but this really isn't all it is cracked up to be and is absolutely no replacement for real memory... also it does not run on XP.
eire2008Author Commented:
not sure what the model is. theres a label on the bottom but a bunch of different part numbers on it. is that info in the control panel?

i found another computer on sale for $250 at circuit city. some spec's below. do you know what the difference in ram is between the 2 machines? also what the performance change would be for streaming video?

Memory Type:   DDR2
   Memory Size:   1GB
   Memory Speed:   DDR2 800
   Memory Slots (Total):   1
   Memory Slots (Filled):   1
   Memory Slots (Available):   0
   Maximum Memory Supported:   2GB
   Capacity:   160GB
   Drive Types:   Hard Drive
   Hard Drive Speed:   5400 RPM
   Processor Brand:   Intel
   Processor Class:   Atom
   Processor Type:   Single-Core
   Processor Speed:   1.66GHz
   Processor Number:   N450
   Lifestyle:   Netbooks
   Condition:   New
   Operating Systems:   Windows 7 Starter
   Operating System Licenses Included:   Windows 7 Starter
   Platform:   Laptop
   Graphics Description:   Integrated Graphics
   GPU/VPU:   Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3150

B HCommented:
those stats are the machine you're working on complaining about slowness?

if so... understand it's a netbook... it's designed for portability at the sacrifice of performance... you won't happily run many applications at the same time with this...

at best, set windows 7 up for every bit of classic interface/theme that you can, disable windows defender, get a real lightweight antivirus like avast...

take a real good look at what applications are installed and UNINSTALL anything you dont want or didnt specifically ask for... some common things that can be removed:

adobe air
anything that says norton
anything that says symantec
anything that says mcafee
anything that says toolbar
anything that says windows live (except messenger IF you use it)
anything that says desktop search
anything that says updater

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B HCommented:
oh - your netbook... you can replace your 1gb stick of ram with a 2gb stick of ram, but it will somewhat expensive - you'll be paying for 2gb but only getting a 1gb net increase (since you can only have one stick, your current 1gb goes away)
eire2008Author Commented:
thanks. sorry for the confusion. the stats i put up are for a new computer i was thinking about purchasing but have not yet bought. the slow one i currently have is an older ibm with xp pro.

ill steer clear of buying a new netbook for speed/performance concerns.

ill un-install windows defender on the one ive got. i bought a disc (not installed yet) for norton 2009 internet security - would that be better to install than avast?

under add/remove programs there are several items referring to ATI and Thinkpad - not sure what those are. maybe they were installed before i got it? probably a good idea to un-install?
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