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I have an old Athlon machine with 1.5GB ram and two HDDs and will install Windows 7 on it (for my mom to browse and mail). Can I get some extra performance out from the two disks? I see two scenarios:

A) building a "software raid array" using some tweaky tricky software, that emulates a stripped RAID array and sort-of-doubles read speed.

B) Simply installing windows on one disk and setting pagefile to the other disk so that virtual memory handling will not interfere with file reads/writes. (storage loss in not an issue)

What do you kind people think of it?

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For "browse and mail" how much "performance" do you think is necessary? IMO a straight-forward install of Win7 32-bit should perform adequately. –  sawdust Dec 29 '11 at 2:30
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2 Answers

-for performance no page file is better

-disable Aero

-run windows in Classic mode

-in windows 7 search for "performance" and select "Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows" and in there select "Adjust for the best performance"

  • disabled windows indexing and you are good to go, I have a laptop with almost the same specs,

you can also get and external Hard drive kit and put that IDE drive in there and enable ReadyBoost for more memory performance if you need it, or get an external USB drive whatever you want, a hard drive kit is about $10-$20

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Since the asker mentions this is for his mother, I don't think running Windows 7 with only 1.5 GB of RAM and no pagefile is a good idea. Running in classic mode actually increases processor load on many systems, since with it enabled the CPU is taking over work that would normally be performed by the GPU. –  oKtosiTe Dec 28 '11 at 18:48
    
well he did said performance :p –  LowvaPrg Dec 28 '11 at 18:51
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ReadyBoost is a good idea, thanks. –  Dercsár Dec 28 '11 at 18:54
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I expect this machines biggest issue will be the limited amount of RAM, closely followed by the relatively low CPU performance. Disk reads/writes will probably not be the first performance problem. Even worse, I think installing some software raid solution will probably eat up some of your precious CPU cycles reducing performance even more. Therefore I would opt for option B.

However, having said that, I would not go through with this at all. I would suggest to install an older version of Windows (XP?) or a small Linux distro which is a better fit for this kind of hardware.

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Windows is a must (for other reasons). XP is not getting updates and security is an issue. That's why I go for 7. You must be right with the software raid consuming cpu, voted for it. –  Dercsár Dec 28 '11 at 18:53
    
I have Windows 7 running on a computer with half that amount of RAM and a Celeron 1.4GHz and it performs mentioned tasks just fine. –  oKtosiTe Dec 28 '11 at 19:13
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If security is that big an issue that you don't want to run XP (ie she'll be doing important work with this machine) then you should just buy better hardware. It's a business expense. –  Shinrai Dec 28 '11 at 19:37
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