Any chance to improve a netbook with an ATOM processor? Would an SSD drive make any difference?

I have a netbook (remember those!?).  It's a Toshiba with an Atom N280 processor, 2GB ram and a 160GB platter hard drive (Im only using 35GB of it).  It's running win 7 STARTER

IT 'works' but whatever you need to do on it just takes soooo long.

That's the max amount of ram it can take.  Any way to tell what replacing the drive with an SSD would do?  And maybe use some of the drive as RAM / swap file, etc?  Would that make a difference?  Or the boat anchor processor will kill it anyway?

damn, makes my skin crawl looking at what I am playing with

hundreds?!  When 'normal' chips are thousands!?
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Yes, an SSD will help... but only in areas where the CPU and RAM is not the bottleneck.  (Disk IS the slowest major part of a computer though and an SSD can be 5x faster than a spinning disk).
BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
so for surfing, etc. I'd see an improvement?  from a crawl to really slow?

Looking at task manager, the CPU is always at 100%
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
What's using the CPU?  Depends on what you're surfing.
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Owen RubinConsultantCommented:
The SSD MAY help in surfing if the computer is spending a lot of time swapping memory, as that will be faster. But if the CPU is at 100%, it might not. Unless, of course, the CPU is spending a lot of time swapping memory on and off the disk.

But I would not expect a major speed up, as the processor is only so fast.

I would also look to see how much free memory is available, as adding more memory might also reduce swap times since it will have to swap out a lot less.
David Johnson, CDRetiredCommented:
Improving it will be like beating a dead horse.  Save your money and replace it. Windows 7 basic struggles if you put a modern browser on it then even with the ssd handling the swapfile it will still be dog slow.
Owen RubinConsultantCommented:
You know David, that truly IS the best answer!  ;-)
Mal OsborneAlpha GeekCommented:
Well, being STARTER edition, it will not support any more ram, and the CPU is almost certainly soldered in place. An SSD will certainly give it a bit of boost, but that machine will always be lethargic. On the other hand, a 120Gb SSD can be had for well under $50, so might be worth it, if your expectations are realistic.
David Johnson, CDRetiredCommented:
You're right it was Win 7 Starter not Win 7 Basic
and don't forget that windows will not run fast with only 2 GB ram
you can check in resource monitor how much free ram you have while running your applications, and see where the bottleneck is
but i guess that both can be the cause (depending on the app)
i would not upgrade it, unless you have a compelling reason for doing so
your SSD will surely cost about 100 $ + ram- say 50$  - - is it worth it?
probably not  - but it can be done
For what it's worth: yes, i remember those, and I even still have one with similar specs in my hardware collection. It came with a spinning HD, 1GB RAM, and Windows XP Home.
Since then, I upgraded it with a 80GB SSD (back when they were still kind of expensive ...), 2GB RAM (max RAM supported), and Windows 8 Pro x86.
Yes, the SSD helps a lot; boot time is only a few seconds Browsing depends mainly on the complexity of the site. It's still slow, obviously, but it's fast enough for regular surfing, RAM is usually sufficient. Browser of choice is‎ (Chromium based), with the nice feature of "lazy loading" of open tabs on start (restored tabs will only load when activated, which makes start time reasonable even with a bunch of tabs "open").
Upgrading to Windows 8, if possible, will probably help, too, as it's less resource intensive than Windows 7, and the Windows 7 drivers should still work (wouldn't go to Windows 10, what with the OS updates every 6 months). And, no, Windows 8.1 is not as bad as it was made - just install; in addition, I used "Tiny Borders" to squeeze a bit more usable screen space out of the native 1024×600:

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Mal OsborneAlpha GeekCommented:
nobus> Windows7, Starter edition only recognises 2Gb of RAM. Upgrading would be pointless without a new OS as well.
BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
thank you all! The SSD is laying around here, so might as well use it is my distorted thinking.

And at the same time, while I like the practice of opening up a machine and cloning a drive, the SSD is smaller than the original so now I have to use parted magic to get the partition small enough to clone to the SSD.  With my limited skills, I could wind up wrecking the original drive so it doesn't boot. Or hey, clone to a platter drive then resize it there, then clone to SSD.

but if i's not going to produce usable benefits, I barely have enough time to do important things let alone labors of love.  Im always amazed how you guys have the time to lead productive lives,  learn all that you know & still help out others. But I guess you aren't taking as long to do rudimentary things like us noobs or redoing things because you got better advice from EE experts than how you did something originally.

And the unit does "work". Just  slowly. it would seem to have some value - a working lightweight portable PC, but f it breaks or gets stolen, not a big deal.  But david is right about what needs to be done on a logical basis.

But do you put an old dog down just because it's slow and old <g> (best analogy I can think of at this instant, but I say that not meaning this is anything like a great old dog / companion to me. I haven't used it in months, dusted it off and said "damn, this is slow".  It's more the idea that it is so hard for me to toss most anything that still "works" although maybe I need to focus on something being  "usable".

Any advice or metric you use to decide things like that? "Yeah, I could probably fix that but it still wouldn't ____________"
Mike SunSenior Systems Engineer (IBM - retired)Commented:
There is a good chance that the netbook speed can be greatly improved by a (somewhat time consuming) thorough cleanup of non essential software, startup entries, services and scheduled tasks. Aim for a total process count of less than 40.  Even remove any 3rd party security solutions and use Microsoft Security essentials with its smaller footprint. Here is a guide which may help -

Black Viper’s Windows 7 Super Tweaks
if you have the SSD - use it!
you can easily clone the Original to the ssd with free software, like the aomei backupper, or paragon soft :
i would still favor a new os and 4 GB ram
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