8/27/2010 5:24 AM
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.
Fig. 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.
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