Cleaning up my Dell laptop

Discussion in 'Computers' started by ojibway, Sep 16, 2013.

  1. ojibway

    ojibway Funster

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    Hi all,
    here's another computer question for you Techsperts!

    I have a Dell Inspiron 6400 which I bought new some years ago, which I love (or loved!)

    • Firstly the hard drive is full
    • Secondly it is desperately slow.

    I have everything duplicated and backed up onto another laptop so don't mind if I loose the whole lot.

    I've been waiting for my son-in-law to clean it up but he is self employed and very busy so I thought I'd try it myself - "with a little bit of help from my friends":Blush:

    The s-i-l said it might be a good idea to replace the hard drive as it can get tired and slow down. Fine by me.

    • Should I replace the hard drive?
    • How do go about replacing the hard drive?
    • What should I buy to replace it?
      Should I upgrade anything else?
    • What software do I need to re-instate it? (I don't think I have Windows anywhere on disc)

    I intend to use the laptop mostly for off-line work like writing stuff and for Rosetta Stone

    You help would be greatfully appreciated
    Mike
     
  2. freelanderuk

    freelanderuk Read Only Funster

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    Have a look if the laptop has a restore feature when you first reboot it up , the wife's has press f4 to restore , which will restore to when we first bought it a far few years ago, you will loose everything you have put on there , it will be just like you bought it if it has this option
     
  3. GJH

    GJH Funster Life Member

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    If you replace the hard drive you will need a set of Windows installations CDs to recreate the operating system. Any rescue CDs might be tied to the original hard drive to prevent piracy so that needs to be checked first.

    Personally, before spending any money and given that you don't mind losing everything, I would get rid of all the data files and application software and start again with a clean machine. Reverting to factory settings and reinstalling all necessary Windows/driver updates is one way, uninstalling software and deleting data files before defragmenting the drive is another - it depends what you are comfortable with.

    You will probably gain more speed out of upgrading the memory (if that is possible) rather than buying a new hard drive and it will probably be cheaper. Crucial have a downloadable System Scanner which gives upgrade options. You don't have to buy new SIMMs/DIMMs, depending on the price guaranteed second hand from eBay could be OK.
     
  4. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    You can't beat a full clean windows install to restore it's performance. You will lose everything.

    Can you manage this ? Does it come with windows CD or the like ? Sometimes it's on the hard drive.
     
  5. Minxy Girl

    Minxy Girl Funster Life Member

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    Before you do anything ensure that you have the appropriate drivers for all of your kit both external and internal (sound card, graphics card, printer etc) as some are very hard to find now especially if your kit is getting on a bit. :RollEyes:

    Personally if you aren't sure what to do it might be wise to go through all your files/folders and delete all the stuff you have on it that you don't need now (documents, photos, music etc) then run a defrag programme through it - most people only tend to do it once but we know from experience that doing it a few times can give better results. Similarly 'Crap Cleaner' and a registry cleaner can help too.

    If that doesn't work then look at doing a complete fresh install of everything but if the above works you might not need to.

    If it had been a PC rather than a laptop it would have been possible to install a second hard drive (called a 'slave') but as far as I'm aware this isn't an option in a laptop (although you can of course attach an external hard drive for your documents etc).
     
  6. ukbill

    ukbill Funster

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    you can format the drive so long as you have all the drivers and a operating system to reinstall but as for the speed some machines no matter what you do with them sometimes u cant speed them up like us its called old age
     
  7. TheBig1

    TheBig1 Funster Life Member

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    when you bought the laptop it will either of come with a recovery dvd or have a recovery partition on the hard disk. usually a recovery partition will be labelled D drive.
    if you dont have the Dell recovery dvd, there are a couple of sellers on ebay that sell them for about £5. you basically format the C drive then boot the laptop from the dvd and it installs the operating system and drivers in a fresh copy as it was new. you may need the windows product key, which is on a sticker on the base of your laptop. if the sticker is rubbed away you need to download a windows key finder that will give you the key currently installed, but do this before formatting

    thats worst case though, and it would be safer and quicker to clean up your hard disk first. remove as many user files and old downloads as possible. then click start, then my computer. right click on C drive and choose properties. a window opens with several tabs, choose general and click on disk cleanup. wait for the program to calculate how much disk space can be saved, this will take quite a while. then tick all the boxes and click clean up system files wait for it to calculate then click OK. choose delete files

    you just did a basic clean up of your hard disk and performance should improve. to improve on this cut down on programs loading into memory when windows starts. if you dont know how, just ask

    hardware wise, the best way to boost performance on a laptop is to add memory. go to crucial.com and use their tool to find what memory your laptop uses and how much is in there and its maximum. it will offer you advice on which memory to add, but best add as much as you can afford to the maximum if possible
     
  8. Mattyjwr

    Mattyjwr Funster Life Member

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    Before you spend any money, how old is the computer and what are the specs? In particular, how much RAM does it have, what processor does it have and what is the size of the current hard disk?

    What would you like to be able to do with your pc once it works faster?

    You may find that you would be better off buying a new machine.

    If you don't want a new machine, I would suggest using a programme like this to see what can be improved quickly. You'll get a 15 day trial for free and it will identify and fix errors on your machine to improve performance and help you clean it. http://www.tuneup-software.co.uk/

    This is far easier and faster than reinstalling the operating system - you may find that you open up such a can of worms by trying to find drivers etc for a machine that I guess is running XP and is around 7 years old.
     
  9. ojibway

    ojibway Funster

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    Hi all and thanks for the the advice.

    I haven't used the laptop for some time for obvious reasons.
    Yesterday I had a go at removing stuff and it went well at first then started going slower and slower. I was removing software I was sure I would not use or had not used in a long time.
    I also remembered that the internet connection goes on/off, on/off so no chance of connecting.
    Tried the Media thing which was great - turns on independently of the main machine but it wouldn't respond to anything I put in the CD/DVD drive.
    I only really want it for offline work with Photoshop, Visio and Rosetta Stone but if it can connect to the internet so much the better.

    The laptop was bought in 2005 or 6

    I have found all the discs that came with it which are:
    • Operating System reinstallation CD with MS Windows XP Home edition
    • Cyberlink Power DVD Software
    • Reintalling Sonic RecordNow software
    • 2 discs for reinstalling Dell Dimension Eurotools System Software
    • Dell Dimension Resource CD
    • Reinstalling V.9x (capable)/56k Data/Fax Modem Software for MS Windows.

    Could one of the problems be overheating (dust)which slows it almost to a stop after it's been on a while? The fan is a bit noisy.

    Mike:Sad:
     
  10. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    BINGO !

    2005, not that old.

    The XT disc is your savouir. XT here, it just WORKS. Boot from the CD or put it in and let it run. Full new install.

    Use the other discs if needed, you don't need the modem one, obsolete now.

    Yes the fan could be a problem, some puffs with an air duster ( buy a can ) and see what crap it shifts. Not too long a puff, you don't want the fan going supersonic.
     
  11. Mattyjwr

    Mattyjwr Funster Life Member

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    If you can afford to spend approx £350 - £500, I recommend buying a new machine; your current one would appear to require a lot of work to return it to something like its original speed and you may find that it will be obsolete pretty soon. Unless you are IT literate, it will not be easy to keep it running for much longer; you may find it difficult to get drivers for new devices (such as printers, scanners) and support for Windows XP with Service Pack 3 ends April 8, 2014 so security upgrades will only be provided for another 7 months.

    In the meantime, try the tuneup software I linked to previously, clean up what you can and back up your files onto an external hard disk so that you have your documents / photos etc. available just in case the machine dies etc. You may find that you can also put some of your rarely used files onto the external disk and this will help speed up your computer.

    Also, have a look at the programmes running in the background - you may find that you have lots of programmes that you are not using taking up processing power and slowing the system down.

    A new machine will also be more reliable and so much faster than your current one.
     
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