Author Topic: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?  (Read 5353 times)

shelivesthedream

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How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« on: May 02, 2015, 04:51:01 AM »
I've owned this laptop for about four or five years, and it is struggling. It's slow and a little temperamental, and the battery has conked out so it only really works if it's plugged in. I'm going to get a new one eventually (both husband and I need a functional computer for studying and freelancing respectively) but if there's anything I can do to get another year out of this one, I'd love to know.

Can anyone give me a list of computer maintenance hints that don't require buying anything or too much specialist knowledge? (Can cope with the non-functioning battery for as long as necessary.)

Rubic

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2015, 06:15:12 AM »
You'll need to provide more information about your laptop: brand, model, etc.

In general with older machines, if you can upgrade the amount of RAM, you'll tend to get the best bang for your dollar (or pound).  The first thing you need to do is find out how much RAM is currently installed on your laptop, then determine if you can add more.  In other words, if you're already maxed out, there's no possibility of upgrading.

For example, I've successfully purchased used ThinkPad T420's and upgraded them from 4GB to 8GB of memory.  The Crucial site makes it easy to look up compatible memory cards for your specific laptop:  http://uk.crucial.com/gbr/en/ (UK version).  I first look up the version that I need, then attempt to order it from ebay or amazon.

----

Probably more technical than you want, but another alternative would be to install a free minimal Linux operating system on your laptop, e.g. Xubuntu or Mint.  I run Linux on my work and personal machines.  Even on the older equipment, everyone is surprised at how peppy it runs without all the crapware running in the background.

GueroKC

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2015, 07:55:06 AM »
Also on the technical side, but a solid state drive (SSD) will make you feel like you have a brand new machine. The price for a small one isn't terrible....probably in the 60 dollar range for 120 GB.

beege

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2015, 09:36:03 AM »
I've done both of the things the previous posters have suggested (upgraded RAM and changed to a SSD). I've also bought a cheap-o chinese OEM replacement battery for my laptop ($~20 maybe). It's enabled me to keep the same laptop since 2007 (Lenovo/IBM Thinkpad X60 here).

I've done similar things for my SO's laptop (a Dell something or other). We hope to get a decade each out of our machines, which I think is completely doable with the upgrades.

Eric

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2015, 11:11:31 AM »
I just re-installed windows on my computer from 2009 that was really sluggish and it worked like a charm.  Of course it wipes out ALL of your files, so you need to backup anything that you'll want to keep separately, but it could be an option for you.  It's almost like getting a new one.  (mine is desktop so I don't have a battery issue)

etselec

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2015, 12:32:46 PM »
Defragment the hard drive! Every time I do it, the computer runs much better & I wonder why I waited so long. There are plenty of tutorials online for how to do it - just make sure you back everything up beforehand just in case, and have another internet-enabled device to help you troubleshoot (since obv. you can't google on your own computer if something goes wrong...).

worms

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2015, 01:34:39 PM »
I'm still using a Dell Inspiron laptop from 2004, I've maxed out the RAM and switched it over to Ubuntu.  Replaced the hard-drive at one point, also the battery and charger, re-soldered the charger port and blown the dust out of it a couple of times. It seems to cope with modern life just fine, so I am in no great rush to replace it.

daverobev

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2015, 05:15:14 PM »
Sluggish can usually be fixed by uninstalling crap, doing a disk cleanup, defrag, etc.

If your browser is slow check if you have a million toolbars or plugins installed (try installing a different browser to see if it runs faster).

Check 'task manager' on windows to see how many processes you have running. The lower the better, for WinXP I think 20 or so is good, for 7 or 8 under 30 is good, assuming you don't have a load of programs open of course.

hodedofome

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How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2015, 08:06:30 PM »
If you don't want to spend a bunch of time on it like the previous posters are talking about, just suck it up and realize 3-5 years is pretty good for a laptop's lifetime. Get a new one with a solid state hard drive and in the future get some more ram for it. With 64 bit machines you can throw a lot of ram at them these days, and a solid state drive should keep it running in good shape. I'll bet the new SSD machines are going to last a lot longer than the computers we're used to. My desktop at work was purchased over 3 years ago with a core-i7, 8 gb ram and a SSD. It runs literally as good as the day I got it, I'd just like some more ram since I multi-task so much.

My desktop before that is now my home machine. I maxed out the ram (3gb), it has a core 2 duo 2.66ghz and I put windows 7 on it. It runs like a turd.


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« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 08:08:31 PM by hodedofome »

Fleacircus

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2015, 08:11:32 PM »
I second rubic's recommendation to try a Linux OS on it.  Mint is pretty easy and straightforward to install.  And it's free!

Roland of Gilead

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2015, 08:13:12 PM »
4 or 5 years is great for a laptop.   I only manage about 3 years before so much food has accumulated in my keyboard that I can't press certain keys, my screen bezel is cracked, and my glide pad has rubbed off all the paint.

worms

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2015, 12:52:15 AM »
4 or 5 years is great for a laptop.   I only manage about 3 years before so much food has accumulated in my keyboard that I can't press certain keys, my screen bezel is cracked, and my glide pad has rubbed off all the paint.

Your laptop, your money, but to me this is almost one for the "wall of shame and comedy" category - replacing laptop because of food in the keyboard and the paint is wearing thin?

big_owl

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2015, 06:50:47 AM »
The number one easiest suggestion here should just be to reformat your computer.  It should run as good as new then, even better because you can get rid of all the bloat-ware that companies install on them when you buy them.  You can do this in perpetuity once every couple years until some piece of hardware finally gives up the ghost.  I'm on 11 years for my Dell XPS laptop and when I reformat it I always run the marks and they're just as good as they were when it was new.

I can't believe how often some of you buy new computers.  Three years!?

Roland of Gilead

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2015, 08:58:41 AM »
Your laptop, your money, but to me this is almost one for the "wall of shame and comedy" category - replacing laptop because of food in the keyboard and the paint is wearing thin?

I buy the cheapest laptop, because lets face it, you don't need a 8 core processor running at 2.2 terahertz to browse the internet or open wordpad.   I usually pay around $250 for a new laptop, purchased during cyber Monday sales.

I treat it like shit.   At $83 a year it just is a consumable, like toilet paper.

Now my phone, that is another story.  I am still using a 1 Ghz android Nexus One that I bought new 5 years ago.  It still does more than I need and holds up well with no keyboard and much less use than my laptop.

FrugalKube

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2015, 09:32:40 AM »
Yea a $200-$300 laptops are only designed for a few years of use depending what you do. OP there are lots of good suggestions. Getting more ram and the SSD are great ideas. You may just want to backup yr files and wipe the laptop.

I'm also considering getting a smaller laptop for some streaming uses vs an android stick. Ill either get a used chromebook or a 3-4 yr old Dell and drop Linux on it
« Last Edit: May 03, 2015, 04:14:10 PM by FrugalKube »

shelivesthedream

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2015, 11:06:53 AM »
Thanks for all the advice, everyone. I think I'll go with de fragmenting it and uninstalling as much as possible (realised I have a few games installed I don't even have the disks to any more!) I'm also going to take this as a reminder to back stuff up just in case it does conk out. Replacing actual bits of the laptop sounds a bit much for what I'm trying to do, and cosmetically it's a bust anyway but I do  mind. I'm hoping to get maybe another year of functional computing at most.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2015, 05:04:37 PM »
I'll add my voice to the "reinstall Windows from scratch" crowd.  You will probably be very pleasantly surprised at the results.

daverobev

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #17 on: May 03, 2015, 07:38:38 PM »
I'll add my voice to the "reinstall Windows from scratch" crowd.  You will probably be very pleasantly surprised at the results.

A good clean will usually do pretty much the same,IMHO.

beege

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #18 on: May 05, 2015, 05:40:49 AM »
Thanks for all the advice, everyone. I think I'll go with de fragmenting it and uninstalling as much as possible (realised I have a few games installed I don't even have the disks to any more!) I'm also going to take this as a reminder to back stuff up just in case it does conk out. Replacing actual bits of the laptop sounds a bit much for what I'm trying to do, and cosmetically it's a bust anyway but I do  mind. I'm hoping to get maybe another year of functional computing at most.

Replacing bits isn't as bad as it seems. Compared to a car, working on a computer is a snap. No stuck bolts to worry about, or dirty parts and the stuff you plug in generally only fits one way. You can generally get by with just a screwdriver or two.

I'll reiterate the previous comment that if you post your computer model I'm sure I or other posters can at least point you to a repair guide (like this https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Dell+Inspiron+14z+Hard+Drive+Replacement/13295 and recommend parts that are compatible (ie http://www.amazon.com/PowerSmart%C2%AE-battery-Inspiron-312-1257-312-1258/dp/B00AII7ZIO)

Installing an OS (especially using the CD your manufacturer hopefully included) is a snap. If you can fill out web forms, you can install an OS these days. And if you're going to do that, I'd say you might as well upgrade the SSD.

TightYorkshireman

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #19 on: May 05, 2015, 06:12:45 AM »
I use ccleaner to clear out old files and keep the Windows registry clean:  https://www.piriform.com/ccleaner

ccleaner also allows you to see applications running at start up - and turn them off.  I found I could safely turn off a lot of applications which were consuming memory by just waiting around for their next update.  Most of the time you don't need minor upgrades.  When you do most applications have a menu option to do it manually.  Often:  Help > Check for Updates

Agee with the comments about reformatting.  If you keep all your stuff on Dropbox / Google / Microsoft OneDrive you don't have to worry about files being lost.  You can usually download an application so that Dropbox, for example, integrates to your file system and you just save to it like any other drive.

Applications do, of course, have to be reinstalled.  Now that so many apps are cloud based this is less of a problem than it used to be.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: How can I prop up our laptop for a bit longer?
« Reply #20 on: May 05, 2015, 11:28:27 AM »
Thanks for all the advice, everyone. I think I'll go with de fragmenting it and uninstalling as much as possible (realised I have a few games installed I don't even have the disks to any more!) I'm also going to take this as a reminder to back stuff up just in case it does conk out. Replacing actual bits of the laptop sounds a bit much for what I'm trying to do, and cosmetically it's a bust anyway but I do  mind. I'm hoping to get maybe another year of functional computing at most.

I'd try and get you to reconsider this. On nearly all laptops, RAM is easy IF it supports extra RAM. SSD installation is easy from a hardware perspective. Reinstalling or cloning the existing OS is a pain but easy, just time-consuming.

Also consider switching to Linux. Mint and Ubuntu are both easy to learn. My laptop just couldn't cope with Windows anymore, even with reinstalling the OS, but it runs acceptably well with Linux. That switch has added 3-4 more years of life to it from when I was first considering replacing it.