Computer slowing down, upgrade parts?

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by olds, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. olds

    olds Elite Member

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    Thinking of buying the wife a new laptop. Her Dell Studio 1745 is 3 years old (Win 7, 2.5 dual core P8700, 4 gb ram, 500 GB/7.2K HDD) and slowing down.

    I've emptied the temp folder, ran virus scans, ran CCleaner, used msconfig to disable some of the start up items. HDD has 35 GB of free space. It is booting slow, opens applications slowly and generally has the "think" (cursor swirling) before it does anything. It wasn't like this when new.

    I am wondering if going to an SSD HHD and doubling the RAM to 8 GB is worth it or if we should just buy a new PC?

    She does a lot of photo editing in CS5 and browses/Facebooks with it.
     
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  3. Steltek

    Steltek Golden Member

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    Were it me, I'd back up her data and do a clean Windows install. If it still seems inordinately slow after that, it might be worth downloading a diagnostic utility from the hard driver manufacturer and running a test on the hard drive just to ensure you don't have a failing hard drive.

    Also, that isn't much free space relative to the size of the hard drive (especially if the free space is located on the outer edges of the drive, which slows down access times).
     
  4. Termie

    Termie Diamond Member

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    Yeah, hard drive is basically full. Sounds like she has a lot of photo files. Does she really need a laptop or can she use a desktop? Because with that type of storage requirement, no laptop on the market will really have the amount of storage she needs.

    The other option is to move all of her files off of the hard drive onto an external hard drive. You'll get much slower access to the files, but the system itself will speed up.

    But actually, your own suggestion might be the best option. Pull the hard drive out, use it as her data drive by putting it in an external USB enclosure, and then put a new SSD in as the system drive. She should only store photos she's actively working with on the SSD. Everything else would be on the much slower external drive. And yes, you should add another 4GB of RAM.
     
    #3 Termie, Feb 16, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
  5. Steltek

    Steltek Golden Member

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    Another alternative for the SSD is to buy a drive caddy to replace the DVD drive. Install the SSD in the hard drive bay, then move the old hard drive to the caddy to use as a data drive. Downside is that you loose your DVD drive; however, that isn't as important now as it used to be given the availability of large, cheap flash drives.

    oldsmoboat, you do have her pictures and other files backed up, don't you??? If you don't, you really need to do this to ensure your continued survival in the future when that hard drive eventually dies. . . .
     
    #4 Steltek, Feb 16, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
  6. olds

    olds Elite Member

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    Thanks.
    She does have all the files backed up to a Western Digital "My Book".

    I also didn't realize that with that much space, the hdd was getting on the full side. I've seen PCs slow down when the hdd got full (less than 1 GB) but assumed 35 was OK.

    I'll probably start by moving all her photos off the hdd and seeing how that goes.

    I also found out that the laptop has an empty hdd bay.
    http://www.newmodeus.com/shop/index.php?main_page=page&id=24
     
  7. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Diamond Member

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    Wish my Dell did. Yes, that HDD is way full...

    Are both RAM slots populated, or just one? Between the RAM and opening up some drive space that will give you a bit more utility; a clean OS install without all the Dell bloatware that surely is on it will be even better!
     
  8. olds

    olds Elite Member

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    Both RAM slots are populated 2 X 2GB. But 2 X 4GB is only $55 at Crucial.
     
  9. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Diamond Member

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    Money well spent! ;)
     
  10. BTRY B 529th FA BN

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    Computers don't generally slow down. IMO I think it's a sign of something failing.
     
  11. Steltek

    Steltek Golden Member

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    They can when they have a 3 year old OEM Windows installation on a drive that has less than 7% free capacity scattered out across the areal density of the drive.

    It is still worth running a test on the drive, though, before investing more money in it.
     
  12. pcslookout

    pcslookout Lifer

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    What browser does she use ?
     
  13. BTRY B 529th FA BN

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    Sorry, thought that was obvious
     
  14. olds

    olds Elite Member

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    IE for work.
    Firefox mostly for other things but I did install Chrome for when I use it.
     
  15. Vectronic

    Vectronic Senior member

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    +1 to the wipe it and start over. Also if it hasn't been cleaned often, enema.

    Upgrading to a hybrid drive might be worth it, but if you go full SSD, you may as well get a new one since a 512GB SSD is going to be $400 to $500, you can get a whole new laptop that will be faster for the same price.
     
  16. olds

    olds Elite Member

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    I have her laptop at 87GB free out of 500GB but her back up drive is now at 200GB free out of 1TB.

    Should it be faster with 87 free or is that still pretty full? Is there a certain % that one shouldn't go over?

    Thanks guys.
     
  17. Termie

    Termie Diamond Member

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    That should be enough to feel a difference. If it's still dragging, there might be other issues. Make sure to defrag.

    Long term, you'll need a different storage solution. With that many digital files, you need more than one external - one just for backup, but also another as a main data drive. Could also try network attached storage.
     
  18. olds

    olds Elite Member

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    :ninja: http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2302413
     
  19. Ketchup

    Ketchup Elite Member

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    What does msconfig show is now starting up with the machine (be specific if you can)? She definitely needs more RAM. I would get the 8 GB from Crucial (or wherever) and assess the situation after that. Can I correctly assume this is the 64-bit OS?

    I would think that Photoshop on 4 gigs of RAM would be terribly slow.

    The SSD will definitely speed things up, but I think doing Photoshop (and whatever else) on 4 GB would kill it.

    Also, make sure she isn't running a dozen toolbars.

    And when you said virus scans, did you run any scans for other types of Malware? Malwarebytes' is invaluable, and it's free!
     
  20. olds

    olds Elite Member

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    Yes, 64 BIT.
    Ran Malware Bytes, it found nothing.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    #19 olds, Feb 17, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  21. RossMAN

    RossMAN Grand Nagus

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    This.

    I own a similar laptop (Dell Studio 1558) which had the same problems, thanks to tens of thousands of pictures.

    Here's what we did and it's like a new laptop now:
    1) Transfer all media and pictures to an external hard drive, Western Digital 2TB.
    2) Save everything else on the same hard drive or in the cloud.
    3) Reformat and clean reinstall of Windows 7, this was time consuming and frustrating but in the end it was worth it.

    http://en.community.dell.com/owners-club/alienware/f/3746/p/19376654/19866250.aspx

    http://notebooks.com/2009/10/24/how-to-backup-your-installation-of-windows-7/

    http://notebooks.com/2009/10/26/how-to-customize-your-windows-7-installation/

    4) Install drivers, patches, and updates. Use an image program like Acronis True Image (about $20 at NewEgg or Frys on sale) which makes an image of the clean install. In the future if I need to do another "clean install" it only takes 20 minutes instead of 2+ hours.