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I have Toshiba laptop with following configuration:

  • Intel Celeron CPU,
  • 1.5GHz
  • 512MB RAM
  • 75 GB Hard disk

Currently it has Windows XP loaded with 30GB of free hard disk space. I am facing performance issues with my laptop in following setup:

  • Without connecting to internet, when I open 3-4 applications like MS Word, Skype, Yahoo Messenger and Google Chrome, performance really goes down and it takes a very long time for each of them to open up or respond if they are already open. This is not specific to above applications, and has been observed with any applications.

Without upgrading the hardware, could you suggest ways to improve the laptop performance?

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2  
That sounds like a very old system. I'd say wipe it and start from scratch (if you still have the OEM O/S CD). It's much quicker and easier to do that than picking and choosing things to uninstall, running adware removers, etc., after several years of use. The only bummer is having to reinstall everything, but external drives (or CDs) are pretty cheap these days. –  Michael Todd Sep 14 '09 at 19:45
    
Laptop is 2 years old and having lot of data and programs which may not be possible to reinstall if OS is wiped out. I had removed all unnecessary programs and cleaning with freewares is also done .. but of no use. Do you know of any specific tools which would help ? –  James Sep 14 '09 at 19:51
    
@Nirav - Change ur laptop ;) –  joe Sep 14 '09 at 20:01

8 Answers 8

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Windows XP (as well as Vista and Windows 7) is set by default to run a number of "services" - background processes that perform some function. On a standalone machine (i.e. one NOT connected to a business or corporate network) many of these are not needed. It's best NOT to run services that you don't need because:

  1. It improves security (less running software = less potential vectors for attack)
  2. It reduces CPU use (all those programs running in the background DO use a fairly significant amount of CPU)
  3. It reduces memory usage (again, services are still sitting there taking up memory).

Disabling services that you don't need will free up CPU and memory which will enable you to squeeze every last drop of performance from your machine.

There is an excellent web site made by a gamer "BlackViper" that tells you how to optimize Windows XP performance by disabling unneeded services. It lists all the services as well as indicating which ones are safe to disable.

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Well, the biggest bottleneck here is your RAM, a simple upgrade (would cost 20-30 bucks) would do loads more for your performance than any software fixes. That said, there are a few things you can do to squeeze a little more performance out of your laptop.

  1. Trim Windows down to the bare essentials. This will save you a lot of memory and CPU cycles to unnecessary Windows services.
  2. Restrict applications from starting at boot. Alot of programs load themselves into your task-bar at boot to give them the appearance of loading faster when you go to use them. Go into your start menu, select Run, and enter msconfig. Go to the startup tab and de-select any programs that you don't want to start at boot (be wary of programs residing inside the C:\WINDOWS folder though).
  3. Use a lightweight ant-virus solution as opposed to heavy ones like McAfee or Norton. This can have a significant improvement depending on your performance depending on what your currently running.
  4. Defrag your hard-drive. The benefits of this are debatable but it can't hurt at least.
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upgrade Ram (possible )

remove unnecessary program

standard clean-ups,

Remove spyware, adware and / or viruses

Edit 2 :

http://www.microsoft.com/atwork/maintenance/speed.aspx

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Those would apply to almost all laptops regardless of the age... –  Breakthrough Sep 14 '09 at 19:42
    
@breakthrough - those text are Removed :-) –  joe Sep 14 '09 at 19:48
    
Adding additional 512MB of RAM will make a huge impact on your laptop's performance. WinXP has to swap memory all the time because you don't have enough RAM. –  Robert Koritnik Sep 15 '09 at 7:12

a) get some RAM

b) use some light anti-virus like [www.avast.com]

c) reduce the number of unnecessary startup programs [do this if you know what you're doing Start->Run->msconfig->startup]

d) defragment your hard drive (also i think 30GB is okay, but too less might be a problem)

e) remove any funky useless softwares that you use - a lot of them can do bad - especially with limited resources

f) make sure your CPU fan has a proper ventilation and is not blocked, as in against a wall or something

g) use a software like CCleaner - it removes useless crap that you might have on your computer and you might never need. Again check the settings properly before you use it [www.ccleaner.com]

Thats pretty much I would do.

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Lots of good advice given already, but one thing that hasn't been mentioned is to make sure any "Battery saving" option isn't enabled. I'm not sure about Toshiba, but some notebook makers include software that replicates windows "Power options" settings.

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Also, duplicate wireless, bluetooth, display, ... I'm looking at you Lenovo. –  outsideblasts Sep 15 '09 at 8:14

If you bring up Task Manager, on the "Processes" tab, select columns, and show the "Page Fault Delta" column (might show as "PF Delta" on XP, I forget, and only have Vista and Win7 to hand). If you sort descending by this column, you can see what applications are hammering your virtual memory, which is a common performance bottleneck.

If it's background applications with "high" figures, then you may benefit from removing them (As I write, Cyberlink MediaLibrary Service is causing a bottleneck for me); If it is foreground applications, then it may be worth investing in some more physical RAM, or, if that's not an option, a faster hard disk can help.

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+1 for actually analysing what's causing the performance issue rather than guessing –  Matthew Lock Sep 15 '09 at 3:21
    
BTW did you mean Page Faults Delta? –  Matthew Lock Sep 15 '09 at 3:22
    
@Matthew cheers -- silly typo :) –  Rowland Shaw Sep 15 '09 at 10:55

A clean installation of Windows without the default Hardware vendor applications is always a good move. If you are a techie... you could consider using nLite to make a compact Windows installation.

If you don't have much free disk space, chances are that a defragmentation could help a bit.

Also... Anti Virus programs are very hard on performance. I don't recommend it, but personally I don't have Anti Virus installed on any machine... never had. I know a lot of people would kill me for saying it but, it will make your computer faster.

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No matter how many anti-malware tools you have used, once your computer is infected, there is almost ZERO chance of removing all of the viruses, trojans, and spyware. Once malware infects your computer, there could be any number of backdoors and/or bots that will not be detected by anti-malware no matter how current. These backdoors/bots will allow a hacker to quickly reinfect your computer.

The only solution is to back up your licenses (for any downloaded files), email if you keep it offline, DATA files, NO EXECUTABLES, and reinstall the OS from scratch disconnected from the network. Install a reputable anti-virus and make sure the firewall is enabled BEFORE connecting to the Internet. Install all Windows updates and fixpacks. Then start reinstalling your software - from a Vendor CD whenever possible. For downloaded software, make sure you download directly from the Vendor site.

Finally, follow some of the other tips in this thread about minimizing services and optimizing performance. Or, if you aren't tied to any specific Windows applications, ditch it all together for some Linux Distribution or another :D

That is about the best you can hope for.

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