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Kelb_Panthera
2013-12-16, 06:57 AM
So here's the thing. I've got this older computer at home that is all I have for a desktop. The problem is that it's slower than a drunk turtle.

It's an old Dell with a 750mhz processor and 192mb of ram.

I've cleared away any signs of malware or viruses that might have been on it and shut down most everything that didn't seem to be vital from its startup list and yet it still just drags so much.

Can anyone suggest what I might try next for how to speed this dinosaur up?

Brother Oni
2013-12-16, 07:19 AM
What OS are you running on it? With those specs, I'm thinking Windows 98SE?

With Windows in general, you should do a complete reformat and re-install of the OS every now and again simply because of all the crap that builds up in the registry over time. This is particularly bad with older versions of windows.

Dells often have a proprietory recovery disc (or it's on a separate partition on the hard drive), which is both a blessing and a problem. It makes it easy to wipe and re-install, but you have to reinstall that particular software, including all the bloatware that normally comes packaged, so you'll have to prune your startup list again.

If a reformat is not possible, then I suggest looking through your bootup list (use msconfig) and taking out anything unneccessary - be careful as taking out the wrong thing can cause your computer to stop starting up correctly working and you have to de-fix your modifications in safe mode.

In general though, I suggest upgrading. :smalltongue:

Kelb_Panthera
2013-12-16, 08:17 AM
Windows XP home edition with the second security update, actually.

I'll try looking at the bootup list and see what I can see.

valadil
2013-12-16, 09:37 AM
XP on that amount of RAM is going to suck. If you can get your hands on some more RAM, I'd add it but I don't think it's worth sinking money into a machine that old.

I don't want to be that obnoxious person pushing linux all the time, but have you considered linux? It's less demanding on old hardware. Of course if a 750mhz dell isn't worth the time sink of learning linux, that's understandable.

Drumbum42
2013-12-16, 11:30 AM
XP on that amount of RAM is going to suck. If you can get your hands on some more RAM, I'd add it but I don't think it's worth sinking money into a machine that old.

I don't want to be that obnoxious person pushing linux all the time, but have you considered linux? It's less demanding on old hardware. Of course if a 750mhz dell isn't worth the time sink of learning linux, that's understandable.

Yea, I'd say that the only 2 options for a faster PC is either getting a new one, or getting an light weight linux distribution installed, like puppy dog linux or Lubuntu. XP running with less then 512MB of RAM is really, REALLY, slow. If you're running on a computer with less then 1GHz, it's not going to be fast anyway and chances are that it's won't support 2 GB of RAM. Also finding reliable RAM for computers that old can be difficult, depending on what it takes.

If you only use it for browsing the internet, watching videos, doing e-mail and some simple word processing, then switching to Linux won't be that bad. (If you game, then Linux may be a no-go) Otherwise, buy a new one, because the one you have makes my oldest computer (Pentium4, now ~10 years old) look like a speed demon. A computer of that age has exceed it's life expediency, by about 4 or so years. I'm impressed it still runs, but if you have the money, go buy a new one.

Mando Knight
2013-12-16, 11:41 AM
The problem is that it's slower than a drunk turtle.

It's an old Dell with a 750mhz processor and 192mb of ram.

Well, there's your problem right there. Phones have better specs than that nowadays.

Don Julio Anejo
2013-12-16, 01:52 PM
I'm impressed it still runs, but if you have the money, go buy a new one.
Agreed. Even a tiny, sub-$200 netbook will be way faster (you can plug in your monitor, keyboard and mouse into it if you want), and for $300 you can usually pick up a cheap notebook on sale or an entry-level desktop (well, the tower part). Check out sales on Newegg. Or even better, your local craigstlist. People are sometimes giving out half-decent 5-7 year old systems for almost free.

About the only OS I'd recommend for your computer is Windows 2000, but it's no longer supported and has a bunch of security holes even fully patched up so a decent hacker with nothing better to do, or a malware suite could get in. Though it will run pretty well (my dad still has a 1998 PII laptop in working condition with 64 Mb ram that works... almost usably).

Dallas-Dakota
2013-12-16, 06:47 PM
Well, there's your problem right there. Phones have better specs than that nowadays.

Indeed. Even a drunk turtle with a smartphone will be faster then your old computer. I'm sorry.

nedz
2013-12-16, 08:40 PM
I take it you've done basic stuff like defragging your hard drive ?
Files get fragmented over time and this slows down everything.

I'm not sure it's worth it, but you could probably upgrade the CPU for not very much money. Adding more RAM might be a cheap option also. Old hardware is very cheap.

valadil
2013-12-16, 08:53 PM
Old hardware is very cheap.

That's true to a point. A couple years ago I bought 256mb memory for my P4 laptop. It was more expensive than a couple gigs would have been for my modern desktop because it was so hard to find.

Don Julio Anejo
2013-12-16, 10:15 PM
That's true to a point. A couple years ago I bought 256mb memory for my P4 laptop. It was more expensive than a couple gigs would have been for my modern desktop because it was so hard to find.
We actually had a bin at my university bookstore that was filled with old (up to DDR 400 or so) RAM and random old CPU's. You could basically take anything you wanted from there for like... 2 bucks an item?

Kelb_Panthera
2013-12-17, 12:58 AM
I had considered that the RAM might be the problem but I was hoping someone would suggest something I hadn't already tried.

I'm aware that this old clunker is probably better replaced than anything else but we have a pretty tightly fixed income for the moment. I actually have a hand-me-down smartphone that's faster and more reliable; an old HTC wildfire S.

Does anyone have -any- other suggestions besides replace it or buy more RAM?

factotum
2013-12-17, 03:32 AM
I'm not sure it's worth it, but you could probably upgrade the CPU for not very much money.

Not necessarily. 750MHz sounds to me like an old Pentium 3, and those didn't go much above 1GHz--probably not enough of an improvement to be worth the effort.

Kelb: I think the main suggestion that's already been made is to replace the XP installation with a lightweight Linux distro. XP really didn't want to get out of bed with less than 256Mb of RAM, and that's before you actually run any applications on it! You should probably be considering that anyway, because official support for XP ends in April next year and Microsoft won't be releasing any security patches for the OS after that point.

Kelb_Panthera
2013-12-17, 05:03 AM
Meh. It's just for surfing the internet mostly. By April I'd like to think I might be able to scrape together enough for a cheap netbook or tablet.

I suppose I could look into a more lightweight OS.

valadil
2013-12-17, 09:38 AM
We actually had a bin at my university bookstore that was filled with old (up to DDR 400 or so) RAM and random old CPU's. You could basically take anything you wanted from there for like... 2 bucks an item?

That's awesome. My experience with that was sketchier. I worked in the hardware repair shop senior year. Students would pay a reasonable amount for a RAM upgrade. What they didn't tell you was that the RAM that got replaced somehow became property of the repair shop (or its manager) so it could be sold to the next student.

Drumbum42
2013-12-17, 11:09 AM
We actually had a bin at my university bookstore that was filled with old (up to DDR 400 or so) RAM and random old CPU's. You could basically take anything you wanted from there for like... 2 bucks an item?


That's awesome. My experience with that was sketchier. I worked in the hardware repair shop senior year. Students would pay a reasonable amount for a RAM upgrade. What they didn't tell you was that the RAM that got replaced somehow became property of the repair shop (or its manager) so it could be sold to the next student.

Wow, do you now if any of this RAM was tested? Because the reason old RAM generally cost so much is because most of it doesn't work or has been damaged. I would hate to get some RAM, thinking I was getting a deal, only to find one or more sticks is bad/defective.

But $1-2 RAM is hard to beat, working or not.


Meh. It's just for surfing the internet mostly. By April I'd like to think I might be able to scrape together enough for a cheap netbook or tablet.

I suppose I could look into a more lightweight OS.

Well if you're looking at the Lightweight OS option, here are my 2 suggestions:
Puppy Linux:
http://puppylinux.org
Lubuntu:
http://www.lubuntu.net

Both are really lightweight, but I'd say that pupplylinux is a bit lighter weight. I've never used it though, I've used Lubuntu and am happy with it, but I've never needed ULTA-lightweight so I can't say which will run better.

Just a note Linux is not Windows. Both OS's I suggested are fairly easy to use, but some things will be different. Like you won't have Microsoft word, as it needs a Microsoft windows OS to run (or Mac). You'll have Open/Libre Office, which is just as good as MS Word for most things. If you have issues I'm sure that some one, either here or on the OS's website, will be happy to help. Just don't expect this to be EXACLY like Windows, it may take some learning, and some playing to get everything the way you want.

But for just surfing the internet, there probably won't be much of a difference at all.

valadil
2013-12-17, 11:14 AM
W
Well if you're looking at the Lightweight OS option, here are my 2 suggestions:
Puppy Linux:
http://puppylinux.org
Lubuntu:
http://www.lubuntu.net

Both are really lightweight, but I'd say that pupplylinux is a bit lighter weight. I've never used it though, I've used Lubuntu and am happy with it, but I've never needed ULTA-lightweight so I can't say which will run better.


I can't comment on Puppy. The lightest I've found to be usable is Arch, but I wouldn't suggest that to a beginner. Unfortunately it seems like the more newb friendly a distro is, the more likely it is to be bloated with stuff you don't really need. I'd start with either of DrumBum's suggestions, but keep Arch in mind if they don't end up being lightweight enough (and if you find you enjoy tinkering more than having free time).

Kelb_Panthera
2013-12-29, 10:43 PM
Update

I've recently acquired a couple of RAM chips. I'm pretty sure at least one of them is more powerful than one of the two currently occupying the slots in my PC.

Question: RAM chips can just be swapped without much technical rejiggering, right?

valadil
2013-12-29, 10:55 PM
Yes they're easy to swap. Less than a minute if you know your way around inside the machine.

There's no guarantee they're compatible though. There are different types of RAM slots.

KillianHawkeye
2013-12-29, 11:20 PM
Replacing RAM is basically the easiest upgrade you can make to a computer, unless your case was designed by a madman.

factotum
2013-12-30, 02:32 AM
Yes they're easy to swap. Less than a minute if you know your way around inside the machine.

There's no guarantee they're compatible though. There are different types of RAM slots.

Quoted for truth. Not to mention, even if the RAM physically fits in the slot you have, it might not be compatible with your board--you won't get far inserting DDR4 RAM into a board that only accepts DDR1, for instance.

Kelb_Panthera
2013-12-30, 05:25 AM
I didn't think I remembered having to do anything special when I installed that chip. The ones I've come into are coming out of my grandma's computer that finally gave up the ghost after thirteen years and a nearly burned out master HDD. It would've died a couple years ago if I hadn't installed a secondary HDD a few years before that.

There're a couple more parts I intend to salvage out of it if the RAM thing works out.

EmeraldRose
2013-12-30, 02:21 PM
Is it wrong how amused I am that you are upgrading your computer with 13+ year old RAM?

Drumbum42
2013-12-30, 04:25 PM
Quoted for truth. Not to mention, even if the RAM physically fits in the slot you have, it might not be compatible with your board--you won't get far inserting DDR4 RAM into a board that only accepts DDR1, for instance.

Yes, when getting/replacing RAM making sure that your motherboard supports the RAM is important, otherwise it's won't boot. Different RAM sticks have different speeds/timings, but if you replace RAM X with RAM X, it's pretty easy. The hard part there is not breathing in all the dust that will probably fall out of that sucker. (I've had to use face masks before, not pleasant)

valadil
2013-12-30, 10:08 PM
The hard part there is not breathing in all the dust that will probably fall out of that sucker. (I've had to use face masks before, not pleasant)

For me the hard part is not getting cut. My hands are proportional to my body, but I'm 6'4", so my hands are actually pretty huge. I had a tiny case way back when and there was pretty much no way to avoid slicing up my fingers on stray bits of metal. I used to joke that I wasn't really speeding up my computer with new parts but with my own sacrificed blood.

tyckspoon
2013-12-30, 11:04 PM
Is it wrong how amused I am that you are upgrading your computer with 13+ year old RAM?

No, that sounds pretty normal to me :smallamused:

Kelb_Panthera
2013-12-31, 03:53 AM
Is it wrong how amused I am that you are upgrading your computer with 13+ year old RAM?

Actually, the chip I harvested is closer to 7 or 8 years old. It worked, btw. I'm up to 256MB of RAM now.

It's still a bit slow but it's a -lot- better than it was.

Get a load of the chip I replaced

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7298/11664368944_d1db9b2262.jpg

compared to the 13 year old chip that was left over from the dead computer

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5472/11664273963_e07e83cf25.jpg

I'm beginning to wonder just how old this hand me down actually is.

factotum
2013-12-31, 07:21 AM
I'm beginning to wonder just how old this hand me down actually is.

750MHz speed was hit for Pentium 3 CPUs in 1999, and that CPU range was rendered obsolete when the P4 hit the shelves in late 2000, so I'd be surprised if it's much more recent than 2001-2002. More than a decade old, then!

Brother Oni
2013-12-31, 08:48 AM
Get a load of the chip I replaced

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7298/11664368944_d1db9b2262.jpg

A suggestion for future - try not to touch the connectors (the shiny bits that plug into the motherboard) of RAM sticks too much. It lessens the chance of getting hairs or skin oil on them and any potential issues from static.

Kelb_Panthera
2013-12-31, 12:20 PM
A suggestion for future - try not to touch the connectors (the shiny bits that plug into the motherboard) of RAM sticks too much. It lessens the chance of getting hairs or skin oil on them and any potential issues from static.

Seeing as that's the one I removed and intend to sell to an electronics recycling center (silicon is silicon), I think it'll be okay, just this once. :smallwink:

I was more pointing out just how very few connection points are on that thing. Seriously, it's a 64MB RAM chip.

EmeraldRose
2013-12-31, 04:43 PM
So, at what point does this become some sort of hybrid-zombie computer? Because with all the part scavenging, I think it's bound to happen some time...

Kelb_Panthera
2014-01-01, 01:57 AM
So, at what point does this become some sort of hybrid-zombie computer? Because with all the part scavenging, I think it's bound to happen some time...

Given that it has two disc drives, two HDD's, and was sporting such an odd pair of RAM chips when I got it. I think it passed that point before I ever laid eyes on it, just 3 years ago.

Next up is to replace the CD-R with a CD-RW/DVD-R combo drive that I installed in the dead computer 7-8 years ago.

EmeraldRose
2014-01-01, 11:37 AM
That's...pretty cool actually. It's a PZC.

FLHerne
2014-01-02, 01:58 PM
Well-tampered-with computers tend to turn into Grandfather's Axe problems eventually. :smalltongue:
It would be worse if motherboard upgrades didn't tend to force CPU/RAM replacement though.

nedz
2014-01-02, 05:22 PM
A suggestion for future - try not to touch the connectors (the shiny bits that plug into the motherboard) of RAM sticks too much. It lessens the chance of getting hairs or skin oil on them and any potential issues from static.

That's what I thought too, when I first saw that image STATIC PRECAUTIONS. Only a tiny amount of static can fry a chip.

Brother Oni
2014-01-02, 07:41 PM
That's what I thought too, when I first saw that image STATIC PRECAUTIONS. Only a tiny amount of static can fry a chip.

To be fair, it was one he was junking anyway and I suspect a 64mb RAM chip is probably more tolerant of static discharge than a 4+Gb one.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-01-05, 08:23 PM
Now I have two functional cd-rw drives in my computer. Misremembered the one from the junker as a dvd-rom/cd-rw combo drive. :smallyuk:

CombatOwl
2014-01-07, 07:55 PM
So here's the thing. I've got this older computer at home that is all I have for a desktop. The problem is that it's slower than a drunk turtle.

It's an old Dell with a 750mhz processor and 192mb of ram.

I've cleared away any signs of malware or viruses that might have been on it and shut down most everything that didn't seem to be vital from its startup list and yet it still just drags so much.

Can anyone suggest what I might try next for how to speed this dinosaur up?

There are relatively few things that you can do to substantially speed up a computer that is many times less powerful than a modern smartphone.

If you can somehow find the parts at reasonable prices, you could try adding some more memory. I wouldn't recommend doing that, since you could just replace it with a (faster) raspi for less than you'll likely pay for SDRAM or DDR SDRAM modules these days.

You could run some lightweight distribution of Linux on it--probably more useful (and safer) than whatever ancient version of Windows you've got on that machine. However, that is more effort and can sometimes require you to learn a little bit about computers (though not really that much...) You'd get a bit of a performance boost out of that, but it would still be kind of slow.

To be honest, I wouldn't even bother if I had any kind of choice at all.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-01-17, 04:15 AM
So now I have a newish problem.

I keep getting this warning that my system's virtual memory is too low. I know where to find the settings to tweak it but I don't know how to determine just how high I can safely set it.

Can anybody help me out there?

Brother Oni
2014-01-17, 07:09 AM
So now I have a newish problem.

I keep getting this warning that my system's virtual memory is too low. I know where to find the settings to tweak it but I don't know how to determine just how high I can safely set it.

Can anybody help me out there?

Microsoft recommends a minimum of 1.5 times the amount of RAM on your system. The maximum is whatever hard drive space you can afford to give it (I personally set mine to ~250gb as I sometimes work with large video files).

As mentioned, this will use up hard drive space, so make sure you have the free space available before altering this setting. I'm assuming it was on the default setting of automatic before, so you may just need to clear up some hard drive space and the problem will sort itself.

Edit: From your earlier post, the minimum recommended is 384mb (1.5 x 256mb).

Kelb_Panthera
2014-01-17, 07:30 AM
Microsoft recommends a minimum of 1.5 times the amount of RAM on your system. The maximum is whatever hard drive space you can afford to give it (I personally set mine to ~250gb as I sometimes work with large video files).

As mentioned, this will use up hard drive space, so make sure you have the free space available before altering this setting. I'm assuming it was on the default setting of automatic before, so you may just need to clear up some hard drive space and the problem will sort itself.

Edit: From your earlier post, the minimum recommended is 384mb (1.5 x 256mb).

No upper limit short of my hard-drive space you say? Definitely going to at least double it then. Maybe as high as a gb or so. Thanks.