Help me improve my laptop speed
August 29, 2006 1:53 AM   Subscribe

What are some simple ways that I can improve the speed of my laptop?

I have a Dell Latitude X200 that is 3 years old. It is on, well let's say 'unofficial permanent loan' from a company I have affiliations with. Basically, it is a tech guy's old laptop that wasn't being used and I have unofficial permission to be using it for personal stuff.

It has a Pentium 3 933MHz processor and 633MB RAM. It is running Windows 2003 Server and has a variety of performance taxing programs installed (Microsoft SQL Server, Achestra, RSLogix) and from my understanding I am not allowed to uninstall them or change the OS.

I use it primarily for uni work and internet surfing, but the response rate of the computer leaves a lot to be desired. I don't use it for graphics or games. I know that adding more RAM will improve my system performance, but I'm not really keen on spending much money on it for a number of reasons. 1. I don't have it and 2. There's a possibility of me aquiring a newer laptop at the beginning of next year from the same source.

Basically, I'm looking for some short term solutions that don't require too much tech know-how. Any suggestions appreciated. :)
posted by cholly to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Well, first thing's first. While you may not be able to delete RSLogix and SQL Server, you can certainly halt their processes and governing services.

Ctrl+Alt+Delete, click Task Manager. You'll see the processes. Find the ones governing the MSSQL Server and RSLogix (which should be obvious). Kill them.

Then, Start --> Control Panel --> Administrative Tools --> Services (or services.msc from Run) and scroll to anything MS SQL Server related and right click, choose properties, and set the startup option to Disabled. Click Stop to kill it outright. Disabled will keep it from launching as part of your user profile.

If RSLogix has a similar service (it'd be listed under Rockwell, I'd think), do the same.

Then, Start --> Run --> type "msconfig"

Click the Startup tab and kill everything you don't like. Be aware some video drivers and power profile elements live here, so make sure you know what that you're actually killing an offending process here. You can also disable Services from launching at startup with this tool. Hiding Microsoft Services and killing most of what's left, with discretion, is a good idea.

Defrag. This is basic good times. Start --> Programs --> Accessories --> System Tools. Let it run all night.

Page File optimization: Windows Key + Pause key. (Or Start --> Control Panel --> System) Advanced tab, first Settings button. Advanced tab, Change button. Set max and minimum to roughly 1200 MB if you have it. Keeping the file static in size keeps it from becoming heavily fragmented, though it might not help terribly, and 2003 server might change things a bit. Also, adjust performance for Programs in the same window.

Good luck!
posted by disillusioned at 2:06 AM on August 29, 2006 [4 favorites]

A minor difference, if you're not already using them, I've found that non-IE browsers (Firefox, Opera) are a teensy bit more responsive that IE is. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Also, the window-key + pause is a great little shortcut key that I never knew about! Awesome!
posted by antifuse at 2:31 AM on August 29, 2006

Optimize XP and 10 ways to speed up xp are worth mentioning. Try and run some memory benchmarks before/after also if it hasn't been mentioned try running at 16 bit color quality
posted by psychobum at 3:05 AM on August 29, 2006 [2 favorites]

What you could do is this, if you're feeling a bit funky:

1. Boot into BartPE.
2. Load the file management program.
3. Make a new folder in the root of C: called "Server 2003".
4. Move the entire contents of C: into the new folder.
5. Restart and do a clean install of XP Pro or Home, making sure you don't format the hard disk (choose: "Leave the current file system intact" when prompted).

Whenever you might need to give the machine back:

1. Boot into BartPE.
2. Load the file management program.
3. Make a new folder in the root of C: called "XP".
4. Move the entire contents of C: into the new folder.
5. Move the contents of your "Server 2003" folder back into the root of C:
6. Reboot and you're back in Server 2003 as if you never touched it.

You could even ZIP or burn the "Server 2003" folder to DVD while you're not using it to recover the space. But make sure you don't miss of any files when burning/zipping due to them being hidden and/or system files.
posted by ed\26h at 4:23 AM on August 29, 2006

If you consider a course as radical as ed\26h's, i.e., backing up and replacing the OS, consider replacing it with a lightweight Linux instead of XP. I've got Ubuntu (with a minimalist window manager, not Gnome) running on an 800 MHz 256M Latitude X200 and its response rate is fine. Here's Ubuntu Lite (though that's not exactly what I'm using.)
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:36 AM on August 29, 2006

run a defrag too (Start->Programs->Accessories->System Tools->Disk Defragmenter), an sql server can frag a drive pretty good (lots of data you see). if this is something that's never been done to it you might see a dramatic response. a good indicator that you need to defrag is when the machine spends a lot of time spinning the harddrive (you can hear the click click clicks, as it skitters around the disk collecting the data it's looking for). typically, this is something you should do (on any machine) about once a month to keep it in tip-top shape.

for more info on why it's fragmented or why defragging will help, see some wikipedia links here and here.

don't get more ram, 633 is pretty good anyhow. kill all the antivirus/firewall crap, they do nothing useful (much like the goggles)
posted by qbxk at 1:17 PM on August 29, 2006

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