Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How to breed life in an old laptop

My older Acer TravelMate laptop was getting so slow, I decided a few weeks ago to change it for a a flashy HP with Windows 7.

I still use it from time to time. Like right now. But I was still faced with a clunker that took at least 7 minutes to boot up and be usable, with the hard disk spinning endlessly. 7 minutes! I tried all the Remove-Windows-Rot advice I found, and uninstalled every piece of software I didn't use, then ran all sorts of Crap-Cleaners and Page-File-Optimizers and Disk-Defragmenters. Nothing worked.

I finally decided to:
1. Upgrade my memory to the maximum I could
2. When 1 didn't proove to be satisfying, I reinstalled Windows.

1. Memory Upgrade
I wanted to update from 512Mb to 2Gb, which is the maximum the laptop can hold. I looked on eBay but, what do you know, 1Gb SODIMMs are more expensive than the new stuff (especially when you add the shipping costs). Newegg.ca had cheaper memory modules than eBay, which happened to be brand new, completely legit and under warranty, so I went with them. I ended up buying two modules from G.Skill. I didn't know this company, but apparently they're well known in the gamer and overclocker scene. They actually manufacture their own ICs. I installed them, ran Memtest86+ and everything went well.

2. Reinstall from Scratch
Even with 2Gb or RAM, the rot was still there, with the hard disk being abused like what Jason Scott would call a "drunk cheerleader dropped in the exercise yard of a prison". I went down from 7 minutes to 4 minutes, and that still was unacceptable. I was fed up, so I simply booted off the Recovery CDs (yes, I DO have them!), and went through the pain of visiting Windows Update 8 times, rebooting each time. Total time: 4 hours, but it was worth it. I didn't install NOTHING else on the laptop except the vanilla Windows XP. To prevent crapping my registry, I decided that all add-ons will come from PortableApps.com. Bloatware like Adobe Reader and Quicktime, move away please - you're not welcome on my vanilla PC.

I now have a Laptop which, while not good enough to handle Youtube HD channels, is workable enough to boot in less than two minutes and offer a completely sane Windows XPerience.

If anyone has suggestions, send them in. I would like to know what you do on your side to prevent Windows Rot.


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