How can I improve the performance of my old PC?

  BingoBoy 18:26 25 Aug 13

I have a rather old PC running Windows XP Home SP3 and the performance is diabolical. Ironically trying to access this website is one of the worst offenders. Can anybody recommend some trusted software that can improve the performance - preferably free but will pay if it is proven. This is the second attempt to post this question as the first one seems to have disappeared.

  onthelimit1 18:41 25 Aug 13

Run the free (and probably most trusted) registry cleaner CCleaner, then give malwarebytes a chance to check for bugs. After that, a cleanout of the Heatsink wouldn't go amiss. Also, how much RAM is fitted?

  Ian in Northampton 18:42 25 Aug 13

In my experience, the single easiest way to improve an elderly PC's performance is to start again from fresh by reinstalling Windows. Over time, any PC accumulates huge amounts of crap and clutter that just slow it to a virtual standstill. It's a bit extreme - but it can also be the quickest, fastest way of achieving what you want without all manner of dicking around.

  nickf 18:59 25 Aug 13

I have been trialing PC utility programs for myself and my work colleagues . My personal favorite is Glary Utilities , which I found to be easy to use , lots of different apps built in , making it quite comprehensive , and FREE ! Onthelimits advice is very sound tho . Ian's plan is somewhat drastic , but I'm sure would be very effective. I have also found the Slimware range of free utility programs to be quite effective too. Good luck.

  BingoBoy 18:59 25 Aug 13

It has 766MB RAM. It is a bit decrepit I know.

  Jollyjohn 19:26 25 Aug 13

By the ram amount I am guessing you are using on board gfx. Fit a basic gfx card and this will help a bit. go to and run the scanner and install as much ram as your motherboard will support. and do a good clean out!

  Woolwell 20:43 25 Aug 13

Adding a bit more RAM may help.

  c4rm0 21:04 25 Aug 13

Defrag your Hard drive , add more RAM , disable unwanted startup entries in msconfig, overclock your CPU/Memory, run ccleaner to remove temp files and run a registry scan, check your page file configuration, check task manager for CPU/Memory usage , Run a full Malware scan with malware bytes and run a full AV scan

if none of the above works reinstall windows :)

  iscanut 21:22 25 Aug 13

....and if none of the above improves it, Buy a new one.

  nickf 21:26 25 Aug 13

And run more upto date software

  Batch 08:55 26 Aug 13

RAM for your PC may be very inexpensive and so maybe worth a try and could make a huge difference with minimal effort.

Before going down that path, open Task Manager and go to the Performance tab. Look at the Commit Charge box (bottom left). Total is your current memory usage, Limit is the size of your memory + your page file, Peak is the highest your memory usage (including page file) that has been used since boot time.

If your Peak memory usage is below the Total amount of Physical memory (shown in Physical Memory box), then adding more memory will not be of benefit. If your Peak memory usage is above the Total amount of Physical memory, then your system is paging (aka swapping) and may benefit from more memory. If your Peak memory usage is WELL above the Total amount of Physical memory, then your system is probably being seriously slowed down by paging and more memory will definitely help.

Having said that, if your were to effectively clean up the system / do a reinstall, you should be able to get the base line memory usage (i.e. after boot up but before running any apps such as browsers, office apps etc.) down to around 260MB with WinXP SP3. But it can take a lot of effort - adding more memory is, in relative terms, quick and dirty.

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