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Possible PC Upgrades on ageing system (Desktop)


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#1 steveh8204

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 08:48 AM

Hi,

 

My dad has asked me whether its worth buying some cheap upgrades for his old PC which currently runs Vista.

 

Ive brought up the spec which is the following:

 

Hewlett Packard M8170.UK

Intel Core2 Quad CPU @ 2.40GHz

2gb RAM

32bit

 

I ran a quick memory check and it has 2 x 1GB Ram modules taking up 2 of the 4 slots (im not sure what type, I will try and find out next time I am there, tonight hopefully).

 

He doesnt use it for anything too intensive but said it does take a while to start up and can be sluggish sometimes. Ive reduced what starts up on system start but it hasnt made much difference.

 

My initial instinct was to upgrade the RAM and Windows. Particularly Vista as Ive never heard it spoke about in a good way. I never ran it myself.

 

Im just a bit concerned that if a ram upgrade and Windows upgrade doesnt make that much of a difference its money that could have been spent on a new PC. Especially as its always gonna be a 32bit system.

 

Any advice on this would be very appreciated.

 

Thanks in advance.



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#2 Agouti

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 09:30 AM

Vista is no longer going to be supported in just over a year from now.  With that in mind, it might be better to install a Linux distro and forget about upgrading the hardware.



#3 steveh8204

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 10:56 AM

Vista is no longer going to be supported in just over a year from now.  With that in mind, it might be better to install a Linux distro and forget about upgrading the hard

 

He needs something thats simple too use. Was hoping to get a cheap copy of Win7/8 so he could take advantage of the free Win10 upgrade.



#4 Agouti

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 11:09 AM

Linux is simple to use, especially if you choose something like Linux Mint.



#5 ranchhand_

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 11:17 AM

For a unit that old, especially a retail HP, don't waste your money. If you simply cannot live without upgrading something, add 2gigs of RAM, but remember that you will have to purchase old memory from somewhere, and it will not substantially increase the computer speed. Sorry, but you can't make a thoroughbred race horse out of an old T-rex.

it does take a while to start up and can be sluggish sometimes

First, these retail units are never going to be as fast as a well-built home build unit.

Second, I am sure that there is a ton of garbage loading that has accumulated over the years. Run an elevated Hijack This scan and nuke every BHO and Toolbar listing you can find. There will probably be a dozen Microsoft Internet Explorer browser loaders at the top of the log. Nuke them all. Some HT may not be able to remove so you will have to remove them manually. There will be lots of "update helpers" that load on boot for programs, so go into the software settings and disable them. You can update your software manually when you want to, you don't need the "help" of these things. HP is notorious for packing lots of "helpful" overlay shells onto Windows that "make is easier" to perform the functions that Windows already has commands for. All of these can go. I do this all the time for client computers and they finally begin to run properly.

Also, remember that if you install a new OS (Operating System) you will need the mainboard and chipset drivers for that OS that will work on your motherboard, so do your homework and make sure HP has posted those upgraded drivers for download. Especially any peripherals such as video cards, etc. Retail manufacturers are notorious for not creating the upgraded drivers for old machines and newer OSs; after all, they sold the unit and any additional cost after that is a dead expense, even paying a coder to create upgraded drivers. Unfortunately.

BTW.....I will add the following for my self-protection because there will be a flurry of excited posters warning you not to use Hijack This: create a separate folder for it on the drive and run it from there. Do not remove any items that you don't know what they are, you can damage your OS. Have an updated image backup of your hard drive handy so you can restore if necessary; HT also keeps a backup of all removed items so you can restore if necessary. You can Google any file extensions listed that you are unsure about and find out what they are that way.

Also.....Linux is great, I agree, but if I am picturing your situation properly, your older Dad is not going to thank you for presenting him with an OS that is foreign to what he is used to. Plus he may have favorite programs he uses that will not run on Linux. He doesn't want to get fancy, he just wants to have his computer run and to leave him alone. :lol: The older I get the more I feel that way. :huh:


Help Requests: If there is no reply after 3 days I remove the thread from my answer list. For further help PM me.


#6 steveh8204

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 11:19 AM

Linux is simple to use, especially if you choose something like Linux Mint.

Looks ok, might try it on my old desktop first.

 

How do you stand on running Windows Apps like Excel etc? If I need alternative software the idea is probably dead in the water as he'd probably prefer to just fork out for a new Windows or laptop.



#7 steveh8204

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 11:24 AM

For a unit that old, especially a retail HP, don't waste your money. If you simply cannot live without upgrading something, add 2gigs of RAM, but remember that you will have to purchase old memory from somewhere, and it will not substantially increase the computer speed. Sorry, but you can't make a thoroughbred race horse out of an old T-rex.

it does take a while to start up and can be sluggish sometimes

First, these retail units are never going to be as fast as a well-built home build unit.

Second, I am sure that there is a ton of garbage loading that has accumulated over the years. Run an elevated Hijack This scan and nuke every BHO and Toolbar listing you can find. There will probably be a dozen Microsoft Internet Explorer browser loaders at the top of the log. Nuke them all. Some HT may not be able to remove so you will have to remove them manually. There will be lots of "update helpers" that load on boot for programs, so go into the software settings and disable them. You can update your software manually when you want to, you don't need the "help" of these things. HP is notorious for packing lots of "helpful" overlay shells onto Windows that "make is easier" to perform the functions that Windows already has commands for. All of these can go. I do this all the time for client computers and they finally begin to run properly.

Also, remember that if you install a new OS (Operating System) you will need the mainboard and chipset drivers for that OS that will work on your motherboard, so do your homework and make sure HP has posted those upgraded drivers for download. Especially any peripherals such as video cards, etc. Retail manufacturers are notorious for not creating the upgraded drivers for old machines and newer OSs; after all, they sold the unit and any additional cost after that is a dead expense, even paying a coder to create upgraded drivers. Unfortunately.

BTW.....I will add the following for my self-protection because there will be a flurry of excited posters warning you not to use Hijack This: create a separate folder for it on the drive and run it from there. Do not remove any items that you don't know what they are, you can damage your OS. Have an updated image backup of your hard drive handy so you can restore if necessary; HT also keeps a backup of all removed items so you can restore if necessary. You can Google any file extensions listed that you are unsure about and find out what they are that way.

Also.....Linux is great, I agree, but if I am picturing your situation properly, your older Dad is not going to thank you for presenting him with an OS that is foreign to what he is used to. Plus he may have favorite programs he uses that will not run on Linux. He doesn't want to get fancy, he just wants to have his computer run and to leave him alone. :lol: The older I get the more I feel that way. :huh:

Thanks, thats a very useful reply. Gonna have a crack at some of that when I get a chance.

 

Yea your right, hes not gonna appreciate a new system to learn thats why I didnt really wanna go down that road.

 

Thanks again for your help and everyone elses replies. I will post how I get on!



#8 Niweg

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 02:11 PM

 I'd go to Crucial.com and download their memory tool.  Install and run it, and it will give you options for compatible memory upgrades.  It probably wouldn't be very expensive to add another 2 GB.  I've had Vista on an old HP desktop for about 6 years, and have never seen what all the complaints were about.  I suspect I got that computer a year or two after MS had time to fix most of the problems.  I'm running Windows 10 on it now, but Vista still works just fine (I have multiple boot).

 

 Now about Linux.  If you haven't looked at Linux Mint lately, you'll be surprised at how much it looks and feels like Windows.  You can just boot it from a DVD or flash drive and run it without having to install anything on the hard drive.  It has Firefox and I believe  LibreOffice built in, so it's pretty compatible with Word and Excel.  The colors are different, but it's surprising how easy it is to work with it without having to learn hardly anything about Linux.  It will boot from a DVD in under 4 min. and from a flash drive in under 1.  Definitely work checking out.

 

 Good luck.


Make regular full system backups or you'll be sorry sooner or later.


#9 Agouti

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 02:18 PM

 


How do you stand on running Windows Apps like Excel etc? If I need alternative software the idea is probably dead in the water as he'd probably prefer to just fork out for a new Windows or laptop.

I don't use Excel so I can't say.  However, you can run some Windows programs on Linux with Wine.  I was just trying to helpful but if your dad isn't going to "appreciate a new system" I guess that kills the idea of ever installing Linux.



#10 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 05:26 PM

Libre Office, which is built in with Mint, is a fully functional office suite. It does use its own default file type - .ODT - but any file you generate can be saved and/ or exported in any of the standard MS Office formats. It can also import and read virtually any file created with MS Office. The only ones I can't speak for are MS Publisher files since I have never tried them.

 

Also relevant is a topic I have had running in the Linux section about switching an old and battered - and under-powered - Samsung notebook to Linux -

 

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/604704/samsung-notebook-np-n140-and-linux/

 

It has turned a frustrating heap of junk into quite a nice little notebook. On top of that, Mint 17.3 XFCE went straight in with no problems and worked straight out of the box.

 

Chris Cosgrove



#11 Agouti

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 06:14 PM

The Open Document Foundation may want you to believe that LibreOffice is compatible with MS formats but that's not entirely true.  I really, really wanted to believe that I could settle down with LibreOffice but after months of persisting I had to dump it.  Sure, I was able to save in MS formats but what's the use when I have formatting issues with those documents?  Every time I open a spreadsheet I have to redo my formatting because all formatted cells with no data would lose their formatting.  Word docs with mixed double and single line spacing would change to all double line when next I open them.






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