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optimize old laptop

Posted on 2013-11-08
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Last Modified: 2013-11-10
Hi,
I have a laptop purchased in 2004.  It has been sitting in my garage with an operating system issue
Due to increasing demand fo PCs in my house I bit the bullet and paid someone to get it working and connect to wifi.

Ive brought it home but it's not really talking to the Internet and slower than I remember.

Can somebody help optimise it?  It's not needed for anything fancy.
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Question by:gawilson2000
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epichero22 earned 200 total points
ID: 39635305
There are several things I do for old computers:

1. Uninstall unused programs.  Go to Start->Control Panel-> Add/Remove Programs.  Go through that list and uninstall whatever you recognize but don't use.

2. Download and run CCleaner: http://filehippo.com/download_ccleaner/.  Allow it to run and it will remove all your temporary files, and then run the Registry cleaner as well.

3. Run Defrag.  Start-> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Disk Defragment.  Run this, and when it's through, restart the computer.  You should notice some difference in performance.

Regarding getting the WiFi working, first make sure that the WiFi radio is turned on, and go to Start-> Control Panel -> Network Connections.  Double-click the icon for the WiFi and it should give you an option to connect to your wireless router.  Be sure to do this in the same room as your wireless router to rule out any possibility of interference.

Try that and let us know how it goes.
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by:n2fc
ID: 39635318
Older PC's (manufactured prior to XP SP2) were typically NOT powerful enough to accept the upgrade to SP2 without severe performance impacts.

Issues:
1) They typically came with limited RAM (256K)
2) They had older processors that did not support the XD feature... This necessitated software emulation when SP2 was installed, vastly increasing the code path.
3) They came with trials of either Norton or McAfee anti-virus (which were renewed at great expense) and were great resource hogs.
4) They had underpowered video, possibly with memory sharing.
5) Older wifi adapters might be 802.11 B instead of the newer G or N


Solutions:
1) Max out RAM to all that the motherboard can take... RAM is cheap & the final updated XP should have MINIMUM 1GB to 3GB of RAM
2) If the wifi is a type "B" get a newer USB wifi adapter with G or N... This will probably cost $10-$20
3) Make sure the installed CPU supports the XD feature (execute disable bit)... If not, either replace it with one that does or turn the feature off... NOTE that turning this feature off, however, leaves you exposed to more potential virus infections!
4) Ensure all updates are applied.
5) Remove resource hog AV programs like Norton or McAfee, rather use Microsoft Security Essentials
6) If installed, remove ALL "toolbars" (BHO's) that slow down the browsers.
7) If installed, remove Google Desktop search
8) If installed, remove Windows search 4.0 (and do NOT reinstall with updates)

re: 7 & 8 above... Older machines are incapable of running those tools without severe performance hits.

9) Make sure your Page file is set to an appropriate size for the amount of RAM you have.

OR
Just "bite the bullet" and get a new box! A ten year old laptop has fulfilled its destiny & given its all!  May it rest in peace & go to a museum!!
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by:nobus
ID: 39635366
first, post specs and model of the laptop
if it does not have sufficient specs -  it won't work normally; or much too slow .full stop.
what i did to bring up an elder HP DV6 is this :
max out the ram to 4 GB, and make an image of the drive - or factory reset cd's
then install an SSD

and now it's working like a 10 year younger one
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by:rindi
ID: 39635390
Since this is an old machine it will have XP or an even older OS installed, probably. But XP is being discontinued next June. You want to use this PC to browse the internet, and with a discontinued OS that will open you up to attacks. So your first thing to worry about is to install a current OS. Any m$ OS like Windows 7 will cost you though, and Windows 8 won't even install to such old hardware. For Windows 7 the minimum RAM would also be 512MB (the same as for XP), but 1GB is preferred, so also here you would probably have to invest...

As alternative you can install a Linux Distribution. There are many available that will run nicely even on older hardware, and you don't have to invest any money, as most of them are free (you of course are encouraged to donate to their publisher to support them). Most of them are also very easy to use, and they usually come with all the applications and tools you ever need right out of the box. Most of them you can download as LiveCD's or DVD's, which means you can start them and use them on your PC directly from that CD/DVD without installation. That way you can try them out and then choose the one that best fits your needs before installing it to the HD. The distrowatch site has lists and reviews of many of them. For you I'd recommend Linux Mint with the Mate Desktop, Korora Linux, Zorin OS, OS4 or PCLinuxOS. All of those are very user friendly, particularly for those who haven't used Linux before, and they are also very complete:

http://distrowatch.com/
http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php
http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=korora
http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=zorin
http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=os4
http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=pclinuxos

But it would help if you gave use the PC's make and model number, so we could find out the specs of it.
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by:gawilson2000
ID: 39635680
I like quite a few of these ideas.

But I'd like to first try to revive the laptop.

It's a Toshiba with XP and 500Mb of RAM.

But the worst thing I discovered today is that I can't even get it to connect to a web site.

It appears to be connecting to the LAN ok but the websites just hang and time out in either IE or chrome.

I've uninstalled a heap of apps - and I'm trying the CCleaner idea.  So I downloaded the CCleaner installer onto a USB stick and then plugged this into the laptop.  Now it is stuck on about 60% installation.  Does the CCleaner need an internet connection for it to install?

Another thing I found on it today is a copy of K9 web protection - and I don't know the password and I don't seem to have access to the email address that can receive a new password.

Does anyone know of a way I can test if a corrupt K9 is the culprit?

I know I could reinstall the OS but it currently has a copy of MS Office that I want to use (not sure where their disks are).
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by:rindi
ID: 39635721
M$ Office on that PC will also be an old and obsolete version, and the same applies to this as it does to XP. Don't keep on using it, it is unsafe. There are better, OpenSource (free) alternatives like OpenOffice or LibreOffice, which run on Windows as well as other Platforms like Linux, so those are also more flexible. LibreOffice is actually already included in the default of many Linux distros. You MUST really move away from XP asap, and as you will have to install everything fresh anyway, do that now.

http://portableapps.com/apps/office/libreoffice_portable
http://portableapps.com/apps/office/openoffice_portable

Also check if your laptop can be upgraded to 1GB RAM, as 512MB is on the low side.
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by:nobus
ID: 39635809
i asked to post the specs and model of the laptop -  but i don't see it

look in device manager -  are all devices installed without errors?
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by:garycase
ID: 39636167
"... Due to increasing demand fo PCs in my house I bit the bullet and paid someone to get it working and connect to wifi. "  ==>  For a system circa 2004 you'd have been far better off to get a used laptop from e-bay.   Anything with a Core-2 Duo or newer CPU will be FAR better than a 2004 system !

e.g. here's a nice unit for $125:  http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-Latitude-E4300-13-3-Intel-Core-2-Duo-2-4GHz-USED-Great-Condition-w-Extras-/301011550003?pt=Laptops_Nov05&hash=item4615afbf33

If you don't want to do that, there are a few things you can try to rejuvenate your old system ...

(1)  If you just need this for internet access and occasional document editing, you may want to install Linux on it, as rindi suggested above.    Linux's hardware demands are far lower than Windows, so it will generally run much nicer than Windows on lower-end hardware.    There are several free office programs for Linux, so you can read and edit any Microsoft Office documents and/or spreadsheets on that without the need to buy any additional software.


(2)  If you want to stay with Windows, then the FIRST thing I'd do is clean it out a LOT.
You said "... I've uninstalled a heap of apps ...  I'm trying the CCleaner idea ... Another thing I found on it today is a copy of K9 web protection ... "

Uninstall ALL of that => in fact, Uninstall just about everything !!   Old versions of Adobe;  any and all antivirus/antispyware applications (you can add one later);  your extra browswer (Chrome) and any browser-addons or toolbars; and ANY application that you don't really need ... probably the ONLY thing I'd leave on there is Office.   Your Add/Remove programs list should be VERY short when you're done => in fact, it should have NOTHING except Microsoft items on it.

After you've done that, right-click on the C: drive, select Properties, then Tools -- and run the defragmenter.   Let that finish;  then reboot and see how the system is running then.
Don't worry (at this point) about web access -- you may simply need a few updates to resolve that.
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by:gawilson2000
ID: 39636397
Toshiba Satellite A10 PSA10A-3V1JS

Other than 500Mb ram I can't find any other specs.

Devices look fine except a VPN SecureClient Adapter.  I've tried uninstalling the associated app but the uninstall has an error.

Except replace with Linux or replace/upgrade machine- I think I've done everything else suggested.

I'd be happy right now it I could get it browsing the net.  I'm not sure if K9 (which I am unable to uninstall right now) is the problem.

Should I "ping" something?  Ideas for confirming where the problem lies?
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by:garycase
garycase earned 200 total points
ID: 39636405
Uninstalling K9 is tricky -- hopefully you know your password !!

http://www1.k9webprotection.com/support/kb/k9146.html

... it could, however,  very well be what's blocking you web access.
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by:rindi
ID: 39636412
With Linux you'll be able to browse the net without issues, except of course if the hardware is dead. You must replace XP anyway like I mentioned earlier, particularly since you are using it for getting online. XP will be very insecure after June, and I suspect you have been subjected to malware already (not being able to get online is commonly caused by malware). Although cleaning out malware is usually possible, it normally is labor and time intensive, and since this would only be a temporary fix you shouldn't waste your time trying to that approach.

Your PC can be upgraded to 1GB RAM, so do that and install either a Linux distro or upgrade to Windows 7.
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by:_
_ earned 100 total points
ID: 39636419
Some things to try, to see where you are:

(from a Command prompt)
ipconfig /all   (what kind of IP4 address are you getting. 192.168.x.x or 169.254.x.x or something else. Getting a Gateway, DHCP, and DNS addys)?
ping 127.0.0.1   (check if nic is working)
ping 192.168.x.1 ( or whatever the gateway addy was from ipconfig)
ping 4.2.2.2 or 8.8.8.8  (two well known DNS Servers to see if you are getting out to the web)

You can also try :
tracert <sitename or ipaddress> (to see where you are getting jammed up at)

edit:
I should have refreshed first.
   : /
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by:gawilson2000
ID: 39636525
"Ping request could not find host ipconfig/all. please check the name and try again."

ping 127.0.0.1 seemed to work.
ping 192.168.0.1 seemed to work

ping 4.2.2.2 worked ok after a couple of tries - it received a couple of timeouts before this.
ping 8.8.8.8 seemed to work fine.

tried the tracert on a site I use all of the time and it showed 8 'hops' - with numbers 5 and 6 timed out.

What does this mean?
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by:nobus
ID: 39636612
you can increase the ram to 1  GB :  http://www.mytoshiba.com.au/file/product/info/3704/PSA10A-0Y75M.pdf
but the disk a mere 40-60 Gb which is too small to install later OS

ssing this - i agree with Garycase : you're far better off with a newer system
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by:gawilson2000
ID: 39636887
I managed to download K9 onto a USB memory stick on another PC - and then plug into this laptop and install.  And then the internet came to life!

I'm happy with that - thanks.
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by:_
ID: 39637104
>> What does this mean?

It means your basic network is fine and working.

>> Ping request could not find host ipconfig/all

ipconfig /all is a command (like ping). You don't ping it.
at the Command Prompt ---  C:\ipconfig /all <ENTER  (don't forget the space between the 'g' and the '/all')

>> And then the internet came to life!

Good news.   : )

Thanks for the feedback and the Points.    : )
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