First of all...realize that you are the best judge...of whether your system is currently performing well...not PC Pitstop.
PC Pitstop makes "theoretical average" recommendations about many things, based on the inputs that all the various systems it has examined...exhibit.
a. The item about free space is somewhat true, XP needs at least 15-20% free space to work most efficiently.
b. It's always been (since Win 95 days) suggested to every user to backup the system. That's a pretty fundamental concept, just as we create duplicate keys to enter our homes, our autos, etc...in case we lose the originals.
c. I have a bias against external drives, I prefer internal drives. Data transfers are faster and I don't really see where an external drive is a benefit unless I don't have the capability of installing an external drive. Be that as it may...at least 2 hard drives...allows for safer computing than having everything on one drive, especially given the fact that any component of any system can go bad at any moment. Of all the components of a system, the hard drive is the most critical to most users...because it is the device which contains all files.
<<Also recommended that XP users have 1024 MB of RAM and I have 512.>>
My question would be...you've had this system for years with 512MB of RAM...if you had not gone to PC Pitstop, would you be concerned about the amount of RAM installed and dissatisfied with system performance relating to RAM?
<<Can my processor handle doubling the memory?>>
Yes, specs at http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/syst...0i/sm/specs.htm
. System supports 4GB max, you have 4 ram slots, PC2700 or PC3200 will work.
. Crucial is a preeminent RAM vendor.
<<The computer's been running noisy; fan problem? If so, how do I get to the fan inside the metal box in the tower to clean it?>>
Any vibration allowed...will cause noise from a computer case. One of the components which routinely causes noise is the hard drive, one woud be fans (bad bearings). I suggest opening the case and finding out for sure where the noise originates before replacing something that may not need it.
Cleaning the Interior of your PC - http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/cleaning-the-inside-of-your-pc/
Typically, users buy canned air and use it blow away dirt/dust/debris from the internals of a system. When doing so with a power supply, blow the debris out, not in on the other components.
<<Also noted my CPU was running at 100% at time of diagnostic.>>
For how long? I would expect my CPU to be running at 100% during use of any function that required the heavy use of the CPU.
<<I periodically get this problem which causes hanging.>>
Hanging programs, startups, and shutdowns...are fairly common to Windows. I have a video-editing program which hangs periodically because of the way it uses memory and hard drive space...it's not a problem, just an occasional item to be noted.
Tell us what and when...and we'll try to give you a solution.
What malware did you have a problem with? Sometimes...it's better to do a clean install after such...than to go the "humpty-dumpty" route with getting it to run smoothly again.
Edited by hamluis, 23 January 2010 - 07:13 PM.