this 'idiot' needs some help/guidance!?!

klseiverdJuly 21, 2011

Have new computer but want to see if old laptop can be salvaged... maybe for taking back & forth to school??

It's a Dell, maybe 6 yo, and INCREDIBLY SLOW?? No viruses (check-out) but pretty much TEENY amount of memory left. Buying more memory is not in the cards. Was told, becasue it's "older" more mem would be hard to find and expensive... a few hundred $$ possibly.

I have a hard copy of XP and thinking of trying to start from scratch? Guess you could say I'm computer savvy enough just to be "dangerous"!!

Can I just start uninstalling EVERYTHING on hard drive? There are some things, many actually, that I have NO idea what they are or what they do. When I got the computer (temporary loan/gift), it had nothing on it... not even OS, but I was able to figure out how to install that.

Really have nothing to lose. Original owner doesn't want it back... too old for them.

Should I or shouldn't I just GO FOR IT?? If yes... any tips or suggestions?

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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

I tell you what that laptop would be a perfect candidate to put a distro of linux on, linux runs great on the older lower ram units. plus linux is free. It is very easy to install and to use, I use it every day am using it right now.
I personally use Mepis linux but there are a lot of versions you could try.

Since you want to wipe out what is on the drive all you would need to do is install the linux cd and install it on the whole drive it will take care of clearing out the stuff alredy there and it contains the programs on the disk to do any partitioning you may need.

With linux comes so many programs preloaded you will have pretty much all you need but anything you might want is usually in the repository and just a click away. You do not go to websites and do downloads like on windows you have access right from your linux to get tons of free downloads.

that would be what I would do.

with xp you would have to have a valid number to install to that laptop either the one original to that laptop or one from the cd that has never been used on any other pc.

some info there on the distro I use
the linux live cds are available for free download

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 2:45PM
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You won't just be reinstalling XP, you'll also be installing 6 years of updates. That could take days. I like the idea of putting Linux on this machine, if it will do what you require at school. If the goal is to connect to a wireless network, you might have an easier time of it with Linux Mint.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 4:01PM
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While I agree with the two folks who already posted, it may be that you will be wary of installing an OS based on UNIX instead of Windows. To answer better, can you post the capacities of the laptop? RAM, HDD size, processor type and speed, etc.?

Also, do some web searching for your memory type. You might be surprised to find what you need for less than you expect.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 4:07PM
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I agree with sofaspud, don't rely on 'they said' Google is your friend. Type in the Dell model number and see what it brings up, it'll tell you everything.

A word of caution, if you proceed with installing Windows you might go to the Dell site first for drivers. If you do not you will have trouble getting online because the LAN drivers will be missing.

As noted there should be a 25 digit number on the base of the laptop you should use rather than the one attached to the CD you have - assuming they are both the same Windows i.e XP

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 4:39PM
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PLEASE, PLEASE don't take this as being ungrateful, but... WAY TMI for THIS idiot!?!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 7:54PM
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OK, no problem. Ask questions and give your thoughts so we can offer the needed help.

You are no idiot, you are unsure but you did get here and start a thread. Now stick with it and between us all we'll hopefully guide you along. One step at a time.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 9:47PM
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Guess I want to know if I can just start at the top of the list and uninstall EVERYTHING from computer?? I'm confortable with the computer but FAR from totally understanding the technology or terminology. One of fears is the phrase "you just...", because it never seems to be that way. I have the original XP disk and was hoping to just wipe the computer clean and start from scratch. Thinking there's just a TON of SH!! on hard drive that's totally unnecessary??

With a previous computer, was walked thru something called a fatal... or destructive... or some other deadly type of restore that took computer back to the way it was the day I bought it.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 10:47PM
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So let us start at the beginning. Assuming the computer works...

RIGHT click Start
click Explore

In the new window look down the left side and you will see the C: drive - do you see a D: and an E: drive or just D:? Either D or E will be marked as you CD or DVD drive, we are very interested in the other one if in fact it still exists. This will be the recovery partition and if still there will make life very easy.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 10:57PM
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If you REALLY want to start from scratch, you can wipe the hard drive clean by formatting and repartioning it, and then can reinstall XP, BUT, only if the XP disks you have are not UPGRADE disks. If they are, they usually depend on some version of Windows being already installed on your machine.

Can you also post the model number of the Dell in question? We can do some quick research for you.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 10:15AM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

if you really do want to just wipe out everything on the pc then install xp fresh and you do have the proper xp cd to do it
then just install and run dban that will clean it out for you quickly.
Darik's Boot And Nuke

it will then be ready for you to insert the xp cd and begin the fresh install. You will of course have to get your drivers as owbist mentioned and go to windows updates for about a million updates including some service packs.

for your drivers you can run this program and save off your current drivers so you have them available for your new install.
Double Driver

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 12:53PM
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Pooh Bear

Still no mention of the computer's specifications.
How fast is the processor? How much RAM?
Click Start, right click on My Computer and choose Properties.

Stuff that is just sitting on the hard drive won't affect
a computer's performance. Programs running in the background
will. Rather than start un-installing programs, first shut
down all un-necessary programs that are running.

First thing is to find out what we have to work with.

The program I have linked to below can be used to stop
un-necessary programs from running at start up. Just run
the program, click on each tab at the top, and uncheck the
processes and programs that aren't needed for operation. If
you don't know what a process is, google it or ask here.

Pooh Bear

Here is a link that might be useful: Start Up Control Panel

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 5:33PM
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klseiverd ~~ installing a new operating system automatically deletes all those excess programs you want to uninstall.

I'm not knowledgeable enuf to know all the programs I can uninstall (other than ones I've installed). You can google each program to find out what it does and if it can be uninstalled without consequences.

The other thing is if this computer will be used for the internet. If not, I believe it is ok to skip downloading all of XP's updates? There are also CDs known as Service Pack 2 or Service Pack 3 that contain all the updates.

My XP desktop is never used for the internet (nor on a network) and data is not transferred to it. Doesn't get updates. Just runs my old programs like a champ.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 6:37PM
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Laptop is a Dell Latitude (C-Series). I've always hooked up a mouse... could never work those little pad areas well enough. Has separate "floppy-disk module as external device"... cable to connect. Only has ONE USB port... before it went into extreme SSLLOOWW mode, usde a gizmo that turned one port into 4-5. Has a little cord (about 4" long) marked composite TV-out adapter cable. I have CD reinstall disks for MS Windows XP Professional (including service pack 1a and 2). Has a CD drive, but that doesn't show up when I go to "my computer", but I used it to initially install XP?? And a spare battery pack that has just been sitting in the carrying bag for... since purchased?

This computer was loaned/given to me by someone who had purchased a new one... but I was told I could do whatever I wanted with it.

When I go to "my computer" and click properties for C, shows 18.6 GB capacity, 7.18 GB used & 11.4 GB free. This is a little odd?? Last time it was hooked up to DSL, showed 80-90% or more used... would get frequent low memory warnings... would have to do a disk cleanup that would briefly and ever so slightly improve speed.

Went to control panel and checked to see what programs are on C... 18 different items. Most say "rarely" used, 4 say "frequently" used, but 2 of those I KNOW I don't use?? Rough extimate is almost 800 MB... could list, if that would help.

Under system properties:
...system: MS WIndows XP Professional v 2002, service pack 2.
...registered to: my name and 20 letters/numbers. Intel Pentium, 1.00GHz, 256 MB Ram.

Took it in to Staples with a coupon for a free check-up. Fully expected them to tell me it was gravely ill with some virus... they didn't. I KNEW it didn't have a virus. Said it was pretty much out of memory. Guy tried to find something but nothing matched where it would have to go. Said because computer was "older technology", additinal memory would be difficult to find and expensive... advised not to waste my money and plan for a new computer when possible.

Had Spyware Doctor with Anti-virus v 8.0... recommended by former co-worker a few years ago. Over time, it would catch occasional minor infections and fix right away. WOuld be encouraged to BUY something... Registry Mechanic "Optimizer" to get rid of registry errors. Have NO idea what that means, but wasn't something that seemed to make much difference, and I wasn't willing to spend any more money.

OK... getting long-winded, so I'll stop. If any of my gibberish makes sense, and anyone has any advise for thie "dummy"... I will be very grateful!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 7:57PM
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Okay, I'm with you. I had a Dell laptop that also had only 256MB Ram. There was no way to upgrade the memory, as only one slot was accessible to the user. The other slot required a certified Dell technician to access it. It's quite possible that your hard drive is only 20GB, so you really are stuck with an older, outdated computer. I gave this to my son and he used it for a while, but is so slow he finally stopped using it. I may take it back and try installing a version of Kubuntu that I have a CD for. I also have a Mepis CD, so I could try either. You can get the CDs for free, either by ordering, or sometimes in the back of some computer magazines.

So I would second what Ravencajun posted in the first follow-up to your original post. This is a perfect candidate for some Linux OS. Go back and re-read what she and several others posted about this. This poor machine struggles to run any version of Windows, and I say shame on Dell for ever releasing such a computer. My experience really soured me on Dell products.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 8:28PM
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Any version of windows is going to run slow on that computer. If you get a linux live cd you can try it out and see if it's something you can deal with without installing it. When you put it in the drive and start the computer it will give you a choice of running it from the cd or installing it.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 9:04PM
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THANK YOU ALL for input on my post. It's becoming very clear that this is gonna be WAY beyond me. Think I'll end up giving it to BIL who's always looking for a project.

Guess I'm wondering WHY it slowed to a crawl pretty rapidly??

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 10:43PM
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Pooh Bear

A one GHz processor and 256megs of RAM is gonna be slow.
I have a laptop with almost those same specs. It has XP on it.
It's a good computer for websurfing forums that are mostly
text based like GardenWeb/THS is. Word processing and email
would be ok on it. Maybe some easy picture editing.
I can watch videos and read ebooks on mine.
These old computers are going to be innately slow.
But with a little patience they are still usable.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 11:26PM
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