Author Topic: Any way to save my 9-year-old Windows XP laptop?  (Read 4860 times)

Kwill

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Any way to save my 9-year-old Windows XP laptop?
« on: May 10, 2015, 12:57:38 PM »
I have an Acer laptop that I got in the summer of 2006. I've been using a work laptop the past two years, but I'll need to give that back in June when my contract ends. I'm looking for a way to work with my old laptop again, at least until I get another job. I also have a Dell desktop computer running Windows 7 home premium with enough memory and hard drive space for my needs, so I plan to back up everything to that and Dropbox and Google Drive.

I can work mostly with the desktop, but I need to be able to take a laptop for trips to libraries, conferences, and other travel.

My old Acer was never a very quick or bright laptop, but he got a new and bigger hard drive in 2010 after a debilitating virus. He lost the use of his CD drive to the same virus, so now he uses an external CD drive when necessary. I've also added memory, and in 2012 or so, I got him a new battery.

Part of the trouble is that the hinges and the plastic case around his screen have started to crack and come apart. I tried duct tape, but that didn't help. I found some instructions online, which I didn't fully understand. I'll keep looking for that, but I'd appreciate any helpful hints.

How can I keep my trusty Acer safe on the Internet now that support has ended for Windows XP? He's got MS Office 2003 and a whole mess of my old documents and files, so I'd rather not wipe out his memory to give him Ubuntu or some other operating system.

Syonyk

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Re: Any way to save my 9-year-old Windows XP laptop?
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2015, 01:06:12 PM »
Leave it as-is, buy a cheap Chromebook, and use that for internet.

There's no way to safely use an XP laptop on the internet at this point.

Kwill

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Re: Any way to save my 9-year-old Windows XP laptop?
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2015, 01:16:59 PM »
Thanks, Syonyk.

I don't think a Chromebook would be adequate for my needs but then I've never fully understood what they are supposed to do. Is it true that with a Chromebook you can't do anything unless you're connected to the Internet? At minimum, I need to be able to use a word processor and some presentation software with non-Latin scripts even when not connected to the Internet.

Syonyk

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Re: Any way to save my 9-year-old Windows XP laptop?
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2015, 02:04:57 PM »
Docs and Slides both have fully functional offline modes that work fine on Chromebooks.

innkeeper77

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Re: Any way to save my 9-year-old Windows XP laptop?
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2015, 02:18:10 PM »
I wouldn't get a chromebook- they are fairly limited and also expensive. I'd get a cheap laptop from a garage sale and use linux on it. That plus Libreoffice (better version of openoffice) will do you just fine. If it is so old and slow libreoffice is sluggish, use it when needed, but use abiword and gnumeric for documents and spreadsheets instead.

Of course, if you are going that route I would recommend just backing everything up and installing xubuntu on top of XP (Not ubuntu- xubuntu is ubuntu but with a different faster (less code) interface which would be better for older computers. Office 2003 is so old I imagine libreoffice will be a similar experience or maybe even nicer than what you are used to. The advantage of this method is that it will make your old laptop seem newish- for free.

I also agree- windows XP should never be used online, as you are far more likely to get viruses and have your data stolen than not because vulnerabilities in XP are no longer being patched by microsoft when they are found (which is understandable as XP is 4 generations and 13 years old)

Also, a virus shouldn't break a hard drive or the CD drive, it would just need you to reinstall for everything to be as good as new (even reinstalling on the old hard drive) - are you sure the hardware itself isn't breaking? Sometimes the electronics wear down and start malfunctioning, especially in laptops (because they are smaller, more delicate, and run hotter than desktops, while being abused more due to their portable nature) - Because of the nature of a laptop, using one successfully for 9 years is impressive!

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Any way to save my 9-year-old Windows XP laptop?
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2015, 02:35:09 PM »
A 9 year old laptop is already pretty lucky. I'm less familiar with the light weight Linux distros, but Linux is an excellent way to make old hardware still usable.

If you need to stay in the Windows ecosystem, cheap laptops abound BUT the cheapest option that will LAST would be refurbished Lenovo T-series (Thinkpad). The quality of those is much better than most cheap Windows laptops.

gimp

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Re: Any way to save my 9-year-old Windows XP laptop?
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2015, 03:02:21 PM »
How much time are you willing to put into this?

I would probably do the following:

- Get a new reasonably small hard drive - SSD - for about $70
- Back up all of your files and documents from your old hard drive onto a usb stick
- Replace hard drives, install linux (ubuntu, or you might prefer linux mint) onto the new hard drive, drag all your files over
- If you ever need old stuff, simply swap the drives, OR buy an external hard drive enclosure for the old hard drive and plug it in when necessary

That's probably the best way. An alternative would be to install linux side by side in a dual boot configuration, and use linux instead of windows, but whenever you need your old windows stuff, just reboot into windows (preferably without internet...)

By the way, on such an old machine, I would much rather put linux mint than ubuntu. It's much lighter on your resources (cpu and graphics). Otherwise it's basically the same thing, so everything that works on ubuntu works on mint. As a plus side, mint resembles XP much more than ubuntu does. In either case, though, you'd be able to pick up how to use it within about 15 minutes, it's all straightforward - mouse, keyboard, click on programs to run them, you get the point.

Cole

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Re: Any way to save my 9-year-old Windows XP laptop?
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2015, 03:27:20 PM »
Use something like drop box to easily back up your files and then load a ultralight OS like Lubuntu.

Kwill

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Re: Any way to save my 9-year-old Windows XP laptop?
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2015, 05:47:32 PM »
Thank you all. This is a lot to think about.

Maybe the long ago virus was a confusing detail. The hard drive dates to 2010 and is fine. The original hard drive was pretty far gone by the time I took it in to the student computer clinic, and I was told there were so many bad sectors (or bad something) that it would probably fail again soon if I reformatted it. So I kept the original hard drive for just in case I missed backing up something, and everything was reinstalled on a new hard drive. Somehow in that process the cd drive never worked again.

But anyway, sounds like it might be time to retire this computer, move all the files from all the computers onto my home desktop computer, and look for some new (or new-to-me) laptop. Sigh. I've only turned the thing on a few times the past couple years, but I've had it so long, I'm a bit attached.

okits

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Re: Any way to save my 9-year-old Windows XP laptop?
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2015, 08:57:10 PM »
Will the suggestions on here work for an old desktop running Windows XP?  I've been getting the notification for about a year that support has been discontinued, I just have no idea what to do about it.  <ashamed>

innkeeper77

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Re: Any way to save my 9-year-old Windows XP laptop?
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2015, 09:01:17 PM »
Yes they will, but linux has a bit of a learning curve and of course windows software will not work on it. Honestly, if you want windows, this is a case where you should buy a "new" computer that can handle windows 7 or 8 (used is fine) - But linux can make that desktop usable for free (legally) with just some time spent to back up, restore your files, and figure out a new operating system.

Jack

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Re: Any way to save my 9-year-old Windows XP laptop?
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2015, 09:41:37 PM »
IMO, at 9 years old that laptop has had a good run. It might still be good enough to use as a low-power fileserver or an extra PC for occasional use, but with the duct-taped hinge and whatnot I wouldn't suggest relying on it for travel (unless having it unexpectedly break is no big deal...!). I think that if you actually do need a laptop at all, then at this point it's worth spending the $200 or so to get a new one.

I wouldn't get a chromebook- they are fairly limited and also expensive. I'd get a cheap laptop from a garage sale and use linux on it.

Linux is a good reason why he should get a Chromebook: since Chrome OS already uses a Linux kernel, there aren't any compatibility problems if one decides to install real Linux on it.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Any way to save my 9-year-old Windows XP laptop?
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2015, 11:36:32 PM »
Yeah, I think it's time to look at replacing it. Installing a lightweight version of Linux (or a newer version of Windows) may help the security side, but if it's starting to fall apart after 9 years, I'd say it's earnt its retirement.

I'm sure you'll find a decent new/refurbished unit for a few hundred.

Good luck :)

Kwill

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Re: Any way to save my 9-year-old Windows XP laptop?
« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2015, 06:32:19 AM »
When the Mustachians tell you to just give up and spend the money, I guess it's time to listen.

I looked at the websites for Amazon, Walmart, and New Egg. There are a lot of refurbished options with either Windows 7 Windows 8.1 that are between $100 and $300. Mostly free or low cost shipping. And Amazon has external hard drive cases for about $17. That might be a good final resting place for the brains of my old computer. Now I just need to decide how much computer I need.

Kwill

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the update
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2015, 11:13:12 AM »
I ordered a refurbished laptop from Walmart, which I'll pick up at FedEx on Friday. I tried to find something similar to the work laptop I'm giving back. It came in at just under $300 with tax. I'll worry about what to do with the old hard drive later.

So now I'm going from the work laptop (http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-Lenovo-ThinkPad-L430-Notebook.82941.0.html) and a beat-up, duct-taped but still falling apart laptop like this (http://ixbtlabs.com/articles2/portopc/acer-3628.html)  to a refurbished version of this (http://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/laptops/dell-latitude-e6420). Here's hoping it works out well.