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Buy New PC or Keep the old, need help

by TheDonSD / February 18, 2008 8:58 AM PST

Very slow pc, 1.6 GHz Pentium 4 from about 6 years ago. 1 GB DDR2700 RAM. 128 GForce4. Running Dual 19" Widescreen monitors. Windows XP Home with SP2.

Did clean install recently, saved all files on external drive < do viruses tend to hang out in these files?

Reboot, restart, takes FOREVER. 15 mins sometimes from start to finish of reboot, me actually being able to USE computer again.

I tend to run Office 2003, Firefox (Cause IE7 was running horribly), Itunes, Skype, Fireworks MX 2004, Bitcomet, Windows MediaPlayer.

Problems Facing:
- OK so as i said, general slowness in starting up (I have checked my startup files with msconfig, and gotten rid of most of them, only kept a few)
- It can take a few minutes just to open my browser Firefox, Skype, earlier Paint took i swear 5 minutes.
- Lately when I try to open something, go to a diff window, it freezes and maximizes a white screen across my WHOLE desktop (2 19" monitors) until it has figured out what it wants to do with my request.
- There is a low groan coming from my tower, sounds like something in there is on its last leg... like a motor dying. Could that be due to an old HD? Would a newer HD solve some of these problems?

Is this beast saveable? or should I get a new one? And what about Vista if I do upgrade, will my software be compatible?

I'd llke to keep my old one if its possible, and not shell out the extra coin...

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there's something wrong with your pc
by ramarc / February 18, 2008 10:24 AM PST

even with a 1.6ghz p4, 15 minutes is extremely unusual.

everybody has a new dual-core system for less than $400 (just check the sunday circulars), and they will significantly outperform every aspect of your existing pc (once you remove the crapware). since you already have all your important files on an external drive, just bite the bullet. you could be spending the next few days tinkering with your new pc rather than trying to figure out what's happened to ol' betsy.

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by Jimmy Greystone / February 18, 2008 10:39 AM PST

Personally, I'd say your current system is still quite serviceable, you just need to get rid of all the spyware and other garbage you seem to have picked up.

It might just be faster to format again rather than try and clear it all out using various anti-spyware tools. Then it's very important that you either have a firewall like ZoneAlarm on that external drive that you can install BEFORE you ever connect to the Internet after you're done formatting and reinstalling, or that you have some means of installing SP2 BEFORE ever connecting to the Internet so you can make use of its firewall. You can make a slipstreamed install CD or just download the offline installer, store it on the external drive.

The key however, is to make sure you have some kind of firewall BEFORE you ever connect a Windows system to the Internet. Otherwise, your system can be compromised with all kinds of things before you ever finish installing all the security updates. It's generally estimated it will take about 15 minutes for a virgin XP system to be compromised. Of course that statistic is rather old, so it might be less now.

I would highly recommend avoiding those cheap low end systems talked about by the other poster. Those things are nothing but trouble most of the time. The poor hardware quality will almost always lead to Windows stability problems, and the fact that the case was designed for aesthetics and price (cheap), not important things like air flow, will only compound your problems. In all honesty, one of the worst things to ever happen to the computer industry, and the rest of us, was the sub-$2000 computer. It just squeezes the profit right out of system building, so corners get cut anywhere and everywhere possible to try and maintain some profit margin. The cheaper the system sells for, the more corners were cut, and the less you want to have anything to do with it... As a general rule.

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What about the dying cow inside of my tower?
by TheDonSD / February 19, 2008 12:31 AM PST
In reply to: Personally

There is a low groan, almost a sound of agony, that comes from my existing computer. I replaced the original HDD in 2003 or 4 I think.... I also have another HD in there that is a 160, hardly used. Should I switch everything to that and maybe that would help?

Is the RAM on my current system upgradeable? Im at 1GB now, can I go to 2 or would a motherboard like mine from 6 yrs ago not support it?

Thanks. All of your suggestions are awesome.

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Depends on what
by Jimmy Greystone / February 19, 2008 12:58 AM PST

It depends on just what is making the noise. It could be something as simple as a fan starting to give out, which is a very cheap and simple fix.

So the first thing you should be doing, is cracking open the case, clearing out any major dust deposits, especially dust caked onto fan blades, and then try and trace the source of the sound. You can stick your finger into a fan to stop it temporarily in an effort to see if that is what's making the noise. The fans aren't heavy enough to hurt at all, so don't worry about it. Just don't do it for more than a couple seconds on the CPU fan or it could overheat.

Once you figure out what is making the noise, you can decide what it will cost to replace it, and whether or not it's worth it to you.

As for the RAM, it all depends entirely on the motherboard. Some will support more, others will be maxed out. For XP, 1GB of RAM is something of a sweet spot. Once you start adding more, the benefit curve starts to plateau rather quickly for most things.

So, at some point today or this week, you should find out what exactly is making the noise in your computer. You can always come back here if you want more suggestions on how to proceed once you've isolated the failing component.

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You can simply unplug the fans on most PCs
by Dango517 / February 19, 2008 1:48 AM PST

I'm not sure I'd stick my fingers in them. Modern fans might take them off. You might damage the fan as well. Try oiling them. Usually under one of the stickers on the fan there is an access to the fan bear, a drop of three-in-oil works well. Myself, I use a combination of one part graphite and one part Vaseline. This goop is longer lasting and may run a little cooler then oil alone. If you have problems with putting the labels back on peal them off and replace the label with duct tape. There is one issue to keep in mind should you need to replace the CPU fan. They come in two forms three wire and four wire. Some motherboards have built in heat sensing software that requires the fourth wire. Simply count the wires and get one to match. Do open the tower an track down the source of the problem, as said fans are cheap to replace, hard drives are not. Should you need a hard drive get a matching brand Maxtor for a maxtor, Western Digital for WD, Sony for Sony to avoid any chance of compatibility problems with the motherboard. My recommendation would be a 120 GB hard drive. Do make sure you unplug the system before working within the Tower also touch some metal before working inside the tower. Static electricity and destroy some electrical components. No need to loss a motherboard because of a tiny finger lighting bolt. Touching the light switch cover plate screw is what I do. Do not remove the cover just touch the screw. This metal is grounded and will grain off the static. There are anti static wrist bands that can be purchased at most computer supply stores as well. These are usually cheap maybe $12.00 the screw is cheaper.

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by caktus / February 18, 2008 1:00 PM PST

When you have removed any viruses/spyware be sure to immediately delete all system backups which may be harboring the malware. Any such may can also be on the external drive.

Also, it [may] be helpful to reset the DMA (direct memory access.) This can be accomplished quickly by downloading and running this DMA Reset Tool

Hope this helps. Otherwise Jimmy Greystone's suggestion probably can't miss. But be sure to run antivirus/spyware on the External backup to be sure it isn't harboring any preditors.


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A few suggestions
by Dango517 / February 18, 2008 2:00 PM PST

A) run defragmentation
B) run check disk
C) get registry repair software from here:

D) Clean your computer. See these links:

Unplug your computer before proceeding to these steps

Desk top:

"Do not" do this with an air compressor. Air compress sometimes have oils in them. Use a compressed air canister available at most computer/office supply stores. Make use you clean out the CPU heat sink so they don't look like this:

Again just use store bought compressed air in a can to remove the dust.


Just kidding! See this one instead:

E) Check your RAM memory to insure it is working properly. Run this test.

Replace if faulty.

F) I recommend this software:

G) Remove all unnecessary files from Email, documents anywhere you might be accumulating them.

H) Remove all unused computer programs from your system that you/others have installed.

I use this:

Some like it some don't. I do.

Know a word from my disclaimer. "Use these recommendation at your own risk."
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Reuse your computer
by welrdelr / February 18, 2008 7:30 PM PST

Install linux/gnu on it and have it as a server/firewall.

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Big improvements in PCs since yours
by Dango517 / February 18, 2008 8:19 PM PST

You can get a pretty good one for $600.00-$700.00 (US). Really worth the investment. Do your home work first shop around. Vista is just fine. Very few bugs in it now. SP1 will be out soon. Some of your old programs might not work but that not Vista, that's progress.

Do as was suggested put Ubuntu on it or some other Linux/GNU and toy with it. Have some fun there's plenty of old parts around you might even beef it up some at little or no cost. I bought one at Compusa's going out of business sale for $50.00 has a Pentium III in it. I'm hoping to toy with Ubuntu on it if I can get the OS to load. No DVD drive. They really need to set that up to down load to a USB and automatically load. They'd have 30% share if they did. I guess they can't figure that out. I had something heron down load and stopped at 5.6 MB of over 500 MB. So far. You still need to do the stuff I suggested if you continue using it.

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