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Old 03-17-2012, 07:17 PM   #1
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Is my PC slow on the net because of old memory?


I have a Gateway PC that is about ten years old. I have Verizon FIOS internet and it still seems to be slower than I would expect for that speed. My wife's laptop from a year ago definitely is faster on the net. I have some older anti-virus and spyware protection and I know that Spybot dramatically slows things down when it is running its Tea-Timer application. I was thinking of wiping the PC clean and starting over with a new anti-virus/anti-spyware product as I suspect these older tools are slowing things down.

However, before I go that route and spend all the time doing that, I am wondering if my memory is just not sufficient enough to keep up with all the advanced web pages that are on the net nowadays with flashing ads, streaming videos, etc. I have 512 MB 400MHz DDR SDRAM (2-256 MB Modules) according to the original Gateway paperwork that I have. I have only needed to replace the hard drive once on the PC, but am wondering if a memory upgrade would do the trick. I began to wonder this when I got the "Virtual Memory is Low" warnings on a few occasions.

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Old 03-17-2012, 07:32 PM   #2
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Is my PC slow on the net because of old memory?


Memory is only part of it. If the machine is 10 years old your motherboard, chipsets and processor are probably having trouble keeping up. And the graphics card. And...

You have done really well if you have gotten a decade out of a machine. You could try to clean it up, add memory, switch out the processor but it is time to think about a new one. It is rather like deciding how much to put in a used car with 150,000 miles on it at this point. And depending on what OS you are running, support and upgrades for software to go with it are probably disappearing too.

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Old 03-17-2012, 11:45 PM   #3
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Is my PC slow on the net because of old memory?


Good point and thanks for the advice. I probably won't bother getting another desktop though. As long as my wife's laptop is working fine, we will at least have another option. Would you recommend doing a clean sweep of the system and stating over? Would that at least make it a little faster?

I used to have DSL (700 kb/sec) and I swear that some of these web pages don't come much faster on this FIOS internet (15 mb/sec) which made me think there are memory limitations or whatever. I guess I won't bother with replacing that if it won't do much better.
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Old 03-18-2012, 08:25 AM   #4
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Is my PC slow on the net because of old memory?


What sdsester said... all true. But it may help to add memory (you can't upgrade to a different type as you are locked in by your mobo). But with that little RAM in your PC it is likely having to repeatedly dump excess program and data info to the hard drive and then read it back. That will slow a PC to a crawl. I would suggest adding the max memory that the mobo spec will allow if you can still get that stuff cheap. It might be enough to get a little more useful life out of the old beast. But it's not worth spending much $ on it.
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Old 03-18-2012, 08:44 AM   #5
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Is my PC slow on the net because of old memory?


You could scrub the disc and start over if you have your OS discs but you will have to reload all the software you still want to run on the machine so make sure you have those discs too. Before you mess with anything, make sure any data you want to preserve is backed up. You will lose it for sure if you reformat your hard drive.

I think if the machine is working, you would be better off just running the host of utilities like DISC CLEANUP, DISK DEFRAGMENT and some free suite of system care options like SYSTEM CARE 5.

As mentioned, you could try boosting the memory for not a lot of money but I don't think it will help much.

If what you need is a second machine for browsing the internet? You can pick up a decent wifi capable 8" Android tablet for $150-200 these days. I don't know what you use for internet but I have CLEAR wifi service and get unlimited super highspeed 4G unlimited access, with no throttle down, for $45/month. My service is delivered via a little tiny hotspot about 3" square that can be tapped by 8 devices like my laptop, tablet and phone. I can take service with me as it fits in my pocket. I opted to buy it for $100 so I didn't have to sign a contract.

Anyhow, set yourself up with some similare service or at least a wireless router inside your home and you could power the wife's laptop, your new tablet, and a phone's wifi capabilities off the hub.

Save the desktop clunker for laborious things like word processing and so forth.

Just seems futile to put money into a machine that old.

Last edited by user1007; 03-18-2012 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 03-18-2012, 09:13 AM   #6
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Is my PC slow on the net because of old memory?


It does not matter how fast your ISP connection is, the computer is the weakest link. You stated what the RAM was, but what processor is this machine using? My guess is that it is a older P3, or Celeron, that is less than 1ghz. Also, what Operating system? 512mb is barely usable anymore with today's OS.

At ten years old, the machine has reached its usable lifespan.
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Old 03-18-2012, 07:44 PM   #7
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Is my PC slow on the net because of old memory?


Check for malware.

From time to time I run a full scan of my Windows XP Op system using Microsoft's Standalone System Sweeper. It is basically a boot CD disk that you burn with standard MS detection tools and root kit removal ability. Belief today is that if you are running these types of scans from within the Op System, you are wasting your time. The malware has already told your detection software to report 'everything ok'. Only a boot disk stands a chance. http://connect.microsoft.com/systemsweeper It is basically MS Security Essentials, but run from a bootup disk to avoid malware in your boot sector.

Get (www.filehippo.com) CCleaner and run with default settings. It will clean out a lot of cookies and internet cache. After the clean, check icon that says Tools and then Startup tab. You may have to have admin rights. Check if too many unnecessary programs are bogging down machine.

Run a good defrag program and let it run for a few hours. Recommend MyDefrag 4.3.1 on the monthly cleanup setting to start (also at filehippo site).

Go to www.speedtest.net. If your FIOS is supposed to get 15 down and 5 up, many users like me get faster speeds. If your 'pings' are good (an indication of internet speed), it is likely a machine issue.
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Old 03-18-2012, 11:32 PM   #8
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Is my PC slow on the net because of old memory?


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Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
It does not matter how fast your ISP connection is, the computer is the weakest link. You stated what the RAM was, but what processor is this machine using? My guess is that it is a older P3, or Celeron, that is less than 1ghz. Also, what Operating system? 512mb is barely usable anymore with today's OS.

At ten years old, the machine has reached its usable lifespan.
My PC has the Intel Pentium 4 2.6 GHz w/800 FSB

The operating system is Windows XP.

When I bought this PC, I paid a ton (compared to today's prices) and got all the high end stuff at the time so it is not too bad for a PC this old. Actually bought it in Sept. 2003 now that I look at this paperwork again.
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Old 03-19-2012, 12:02 AM   #9
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Is my PC slow on the net because of old memory?


Lots of good comments here. Thanks for the responses. I should add some more info. I have had some virus/malware/hijacker infections in the past and worked dilligently to clean them up (real pain in the @ss!!). I know these things can be tricky though and something could still be buried in the PC. I have seen no signs for the past year and my anti-virus, anti-spyware, and malware-bytes software comes up clean. After almost ten years, I surprisingly don't have too much software and files that I am worried about and have backed up everything I need on a separate hard drive and have been on the verge of Atom bombing the system and starting over. I do have the operating discs and most of the other software I need although much of it is outdated anyway. Even still, I need this computer available because I work from home now and then so I have hesitated to launch my a bomb strike on the PC.

One thing that really annoys me and I suspect is part of the problem is my anti-virus software and the Spybot Search and Destroy software. I know both of these are old and it seems like web pages are being filtered through something all the time and it takes longer than it should to load. I tried the speedtest mentioned above and got 24 mb download, 5 mb upload so the FIOS is working better than what I should be getting (15/5)!

Back to the anti-virus...I am using Symantec Anti-Virus and it is a free version I got from work (years ago it was high end but not now). I update the virus definition files regularly but it seems like that takes FOREVER now. I can download them at a decent speed from Symantec servers but when it goes to update the files, it takes nearly 15 minutes. I don't know what it is doing. Seems like it is running around churning through files. Just ridiculous. It is like the whole definitions file has gotten so MASSIVELY UNWIELDY that it takes forever to add new definitions to it. Same thing with start ups. Takes like 10-15 minutes. Spybot for some reason starts this teatimer application around midnight sometimes that just bogs everything down too. I am just annoyed with both of those now.

Thought about just wiping everything clean and not using ANY of this bog down anti crap and just making sure I go to SAFE sites. As crazy at that sounds, a few of my friends claim they don't use ANY type of PC protection and they have not had problems. So I guess my question is if the anti-virus and anti-spyware programs I now have are causing web pages to load slowly because they are in a sense 'checking them out' through their MASSIVE files to see if they are safe.
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Old 03-19-2012, 04:19 AM   #10
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Is my PC slow on the net because of old memory?


Your friends are playing with fire. It is people like them that let their machines be turned into malicious bots. They then not only get infected but spread viruses and such. I have zero patience for such people.
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Old 03-19-2012, 06:02 AM   #11
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Is my PC slow on the net because of old memory?


A good article about current free anti-virus products:

http://dottech.org/freeware-reviews/...-avast-vs-avg/

All are better than an outdated Symantec product.

In this order, I would improve machine.

Download a new free product, probably avira or avast (don't install yet). Only use 1 on a machine.
Download and install free Revo Uninstaller.
Disconnect/unplug from internet.
Run Revo and select any Symantec products. (Right click and uninstall.) Select last choice in each instance of proposed removal. Then delete all found files. This removes registry entries also. ALTERNATELY, there is a Norton removal tool that works pretty well.
Install your selected AV product.
Reconnect to internet and update AV product.
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Old 03-19-2012, 08:22 AM   #12
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Is my PC slow on the net because of old memory?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagle One View Post
My PC has the Intel Pentium 4 2.6 GHz w/800 FSB

The operating system is Windows XP.

When I bought this PC, I paid a ton (compared to today's prices) and got all the high end stuff at the time so it is not too bad for a PC this old. Actually bought it in Sept. 2003 now that I look at this paperwork again.
512 was barely usable for XP, 1gb is better. If you can go with 2gb I would do so. It will run Windows 7, and probably run a lot better. Also, if the hard drive is original to it, it may be time to put in a newer one since they have improved the caching, etc.

But overall, if the machine has not been formatted in a long time, it may be time to do so, along with maxing out the RAM that it can take. Now days of course, you can get a Duo-Core for under $600, with Windows 7x64, 3gb RAM, and at least a 500gb or better hard drive.
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Old 03-19-2012, 03:13 PM   #13
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Is my PC slow on the net because of old memory?


I don't like Norton anything, it slows the PC down too much, and trying to delete it is tough if you don't know what to do. Now if I have a program that will not delete I just go into my program files and rename the file, it can't be recognized so it can't be used.
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Old 03-19-2012, 04:11 PM   #14
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Is my PC slow on the net because of old memory?


If that is the original install of Win XP on that machine, or is more than 3-4 years old (you mentioned replacing the hard drive), then it's sort of a miracle that it runs at all. XP really needs a clean reinstall every few years at the very least to run efficiently. So the first thing I would do is a clean install of the OS...preferably from a straight XP install disk so you don't get all the bloatware that comes with off the shelf machines.

As noted, you are really hamstrung by the amount of memory you have. Finding more or larger sticks might prove a challenge, given it's age, depending on what it is. If you can't find it at NewEgg.com, give ebay a try. It's a relatively cheap performance enhancer.

I don't use any virus checkers at all. I use Firefox and the WOT (Web of Trust) plugin which flags malicious sites before you even get to them. I've used it for five years and never had a problem or a single infection. I do run a scan once every few weeks just to make sure I've not picked up any hidden beasties.

As mentioned you are right at the cusp of it not being worth doing anything at ALL to this machine because it's like patching a bald tire. For a few dollars more you can get a low-end contemporary machine that will run circles around what you have.
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Old 03-30-2012, 01:48 AM   #15
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Is my PC slow on the net because of old memory?


New comp for sure.

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