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Aug 27

Written by: masterblogger
8/27/2010 5:24 AM  RssIcon

My Windows computer (XP SP2, 512MB RAM, 250GB hard drive, Pentium 4) has gotten unbearably slow over the past few months. I realize this is a somewhat old machine, but I haven’t really changed the programs I’m running all that much (other than updates and such) and aside from the slowness, it works for me. I’ve used Ad-Aware to take out spyware, Task Manager to disable processes I don’t need, and even removed Norton, but none of these made much difference. Would re-installing my operating system solve the problem?
Kenneth Sabelle, Atlanta, Georgia

EQ: Before you do anything drastic, increase your RAM. Although many programs list 512MB as a minimum system requirement, the emphasis is on minimum—that’s enough for your computer to wake up, but not much else. Once programs ask for more RAM than is available, they start using the hard disk as virtual memory, which slows matters down considerably.

Fig1Fig. 1. Memory manufacturer PNY offers a “Memory Configurator” on their website at www.pny.com. Enter your model of computer, and the configurator will tell you what kind of RAM you need to expand it, and the computer’s maximum memory capacity.

Doubling the RAM to 1GB is a good start, but 2GB is better and 4GB is best if your computer can accept this much (installing more won’t make any difference in a 32-bit system like XP). To find what RAM you need, go to a memory manufacturer website like PNY (Figure 1), where you can often match up your machine to the type of memory it requires. Installing memory isn’t difficult, but if you need help, any local computer store should be able to do the job for a reasonable price.

Ask EQ a technical audio-related question, and EQ will answer it. Send it to eqeditor@musicplayer.com.

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