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have a Dell Latitude with Windows 7 and only 1 GB of RAM. am finding it increasingly slow to load, even email. Is it due to all the 'patches' or updates. have had this computer less than 2 yrs, but did get it used. have routinely run anti-virus and malware programs, and no viruses, so shoudl I ditch it

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You could add some RAM, which is relatively cheap, but yes, Windows 7 will not run well on 1 GB as you've discovered. – jjlin Jan 26 '13 at 3:50

It is likely that more RAM will help. But if your system is gradually slowing down, RAM is not the main issue. Most likely Windows is having trouble accessing your disk properly. This can be caused by inadequate free space and/or a badly fragmented disk. These are things you should check for ever few months. Here's the drill:

  1. Go to the Computer folder in Explorer and check your free space. If your C: drive is more than 90% full, not only will it slow things down it will prevent you from defragmenting your drive. The next two steps are necessary if you're low on free disk space, but are a good idea in any case.
  2. If you're like me, you've installed a lot of programs you ended up not using. To free up the disk space they're wasting, go to Program and Feature and uninstall them.
  3. Windows accumulates an amazing amount of file cruft as you go along. Fortunately, it also comes with a disk cleanup tool.
  4. Disks get fragmented over time. Your system should be set up to defrag automatically, but just in case it isn't check to see if it's needed. You may have to repair your partition before defragging will work.

You'll often hear people say that NTFS file systems don't need defragmenting. That idea used to be widely accepted, but anybody who still does is behind the times.

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I've actually never heard people say NTFS doesn't need defragging, but I've heard that about Ext3. But yeah, they're all lies, lol. – Mehrdad Jan 26 '13 at 8:13
It's also possible the hard drive is dying. – Jan 26 '13 at 9:06

Your situation would be the perfect candidate for ReadyBoost. If you have spare flash media, like a USB thumb drive, or SD card. It is designed to speed up low memory systems such as yours.

From Wikipedia:

Using ReadyBoost-capable flash memory (NAND memory devices) for caching allows Windows 7 and Vista to service random disk reads with better performance than without the cache. This caching applies to all disk content, not just the page file or system DLLs. Flash devices typically are slower than a mechanical hard disk for sequential I/O, so, to maximize performance, ReadyBoost includes logic that recognizes large, sequential read requests and has the hard disk service these requests.

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Many potential reasons have been discussed already. One other reason could be that your hardrive is slowly going bad. You could try to use a SMART monitoring program like It will tell you how many bad sectors have been detected and if the trend is growing. Especially since a lot of your "memory" will be swapped in and out of your disk, a poor performing disk will slow things down. Repairing a spinning disk can de done with SpinRite (, but I would consider an SSD drive, if the price is OK compared to the remaining value of the laptop. The SSD will often (not always, check for your laptop) boost read/write performance and thus memory swap-outs. The problem here is that SSD's have a limited write cycle and since you are swapping a lot the SSD will probably be worn out after 2 to 3 years.

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Windows 7 requires as a minimum 1GB of memory to run (32-bit. 64-bit needs 2GB min). This is the minimum and likely will not be good enough. With that said, I'd go for a fresh installation of Windows. There could be all kinds of things causing it to be slow. A clean install will be the fastest you'll get and if that's not enough, add more memory or don't use it.

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