Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Rejuvenation of My Laptop...

I have a laptop that is a couple of years old.

It's a Dell Inspiron B120. It's got a Celeron 1.4 ghz processor in it with a small hard drive and 512 megabytes of RAM.

Well, I had been thinking about getting a new computer with some of my bonus money from work. But then I started thinking...maybe I can make this Dell work a whole lot better. I don't really use it for much other than browsing the internet, storing pictures, using Notepad, and downloading iTunes Apps for my iPod. So there really isn't any reason that I would need some super computer to be able to do those things.

I set about getting it running in tip-top shape again. I ordered one gig of RAM from Crucial. The system can support up to 2 gigabytes, but after some research I found that in this system 2 gigs wouldn't be much better than 1 gig. That, and I could upgrade to 1.5 gigs for $ upgrade to 2 gigs would have cost me $60. So the one gig was a much better value as far as I was concerned.

Next, while waiting for the RAM to come in the mail I went about taking care of some things on the operating system. I started out running my Spybot to look for spyware and then ran my AVG to check for viruses. Both of those came back with nothing, so I ran a scandisk on the system and got rid of some unused files. I then ran a defrag on the system which took FOREVER.

I was then turned on to a little program called CCleaner. CCleaner is a system cleaner utility that does a whole bunch of things. It helps you remove programs, it clears internet caches, it clears temporary files. Basically, it cleans crap off of your computer (which by the way is what that firs "c" in "CCleaner" means...crap). I used the program to remove over 1.5 gigabytes of programs and unnecessary cache and temporary files. I had no clue that much of my hard drive was being taken up by those things. That alone made the system run quite a bit faster...especially on the internet. CCleaner also has a part of it's program that runs a registry scan and clean. Using that I found that I had nearly 1,000 registry errors. CCleaner fixed all of those for me as well.

I then found that the company that makes CCleaner also makes a defrag utility that they claim is better than the one that comes with Windows. It's called Defraggler. I downloaded that and used it. To my surprise it did seem to do more than the Windows one did, and not only that but it did it infinitely faster. I don't know if it was so much faster because I had just run the defrag a few days earlier, or if it's because it's just a better program.

The last thing I did software wise was upgrade to a better spyware program. I downloaded and used a program called Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes is exactly what it sounds like...a program that checks for malware of all kinds...viruses, spyware, trojans, roots, worms...the works. It's not a good substitute for an actual anti-virus program because it focuses on getting viruses that other AV programs miss or can't remove. I ran that program and found that I had a couple of problems. One was a Trojan Horse of some kind and the other was a worm that was rampant on Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter earlier this year. I never use Facebook, but apparently the worm can enter your system even by logging in, which I do occassionally, so I'm sure that's where I got the worm. I've got no clue where the Trojan Horse would have come from. Either way, both of them were removed. I noticed a drastic increase in performance of the computer as soon as I had used Malwarebytes.

Then today my RAM came. One nice little stick of one gigabyte. It took me two tries to get it installed correctly...the first time I didn't have it pushed far enough in to the slot...but once I got it in the computer instantly recognized it and now I have 1.5 gigabytes of RAM in the system. Before when I was using the computer like I typically would, I would have anywhere from 400-600 megabytes of memory being used by the page basically I was maxing out my RAM and then some. Now with the new RAM in there I don't have to worry about that at all anymore.

Now that everything is done, the laptop seems like a new computer. It's running crisp and fast, even better than I remember it ever running. I got all of this done for a grand total of $30. The programs were all free so the only thing I actually paid for was the RAM.

I MAY think about buying a new hard drive for the computer soon. I have a 40 gigabyte one in there now, but apparently I can get quite a bit better performance out of a new larger one that is also faster. I have found a few in the $50 range that should work perfectly. To do this though, I may have to take it to a friend to have them do it because I don't have Windows discs anymore. I might not even end up doing never know.

All in all, I'm really happy with what I've done to it. I would HIGHLY recommend CCleaner to anyone that is having some issues with performance on their PC. I would also HIGHLY recommend Malwarebytes. Defraggler may or may not be a better program than the defrag system in Windows...I'm not sure...but it's free, too, so that one I would recommend as well.

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