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Windows 7: Lightest possible apps and performance tweaks for old machine?

19 Jun 2011   #1
4lex

Various sevens, couple of xbuntus
 
 
Lightest possible apps and performance tweaks for old machine?

I've got a ten year old netbook, powered by a mobile p3/800 and a paltry 256mb of ram, some of which it has to share with the GPU. The XP it was running finally gave up so I just rebuilt it with 7 (which wasn't trivial due to the un-startable HDD, non-booting USB ports and lack of optical drive), but finally it's running again.

Obviously the machine isn't ideal, however I have pretty menial tasks in mind for it, mostly as a web browser for the telly.

I have mostly used zonealarm free edition as a software firewall in the past, but wondered if this is the most resource efficient now?

As for a browser I was thinking of Opera as pretty lightweight, but any other suggestions?

Skype would be nice too, but just looking at the machine I'm on right now I see it's got 100+mb of memory already and I haven't even used it yet today - is there any alternative clients compatible with skype video calling?

Do I really need an AV product if I'm not adding any files to this machine?

Last but not least, what services can we realistically do without? I've got rid of drive indexing, but I'm not particularly comfortable messing around in services.msc - the comments on each seem to imply the world will come to an end if I disable them - is there a handy guide anyone can point me to on which of these services are really required??

Cheers,
Alex


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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19 Jun 2011   #2
Maguscreed

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 x64
 
 

Pretty much all the browsers are basically equal so long as you keep the extra plugins and add-ons to a minimum. I'm guessing you already know HD video playback through that device is basically impossible.

Skype shouldn't be a problem, simply remove it from auto start up and only use it when you need it.
I would remove Zone alarm personally. Just stick with commonsense and the windows firewall on a machine like that. The addition of a ad blocker add-on for your browser usually manages most the more common viruses you may come across, and malwarebytes antimalware free edition can be called on about once week as a on demand scanner.

On a machine like that I would keep loading processes to an absolute minimum though.
Part of that means going into msconfig and basically unchecking all the startup items. 256megs of ram is barely passable for anything now. So I don't really suggest any multitasking. So long as you are just running the browser, or just running skype I don't think you'll have any problems. It's just going to be when you start trying to use multiple apps at a time that it's going to really choke on it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jun 2011   #3
pparks1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by 4lex View Post
I've got a ten year old netbook, powered by a mobile p3/800 and a paltry 256mb of ram, some of which it has to share with the GPU. The XP it was running finally gave up so I just rebuilt it with 7 (which wasn't trivial due to the un-startable HDD, non-booting USB ports and lack of optical drive), but finally it's running again.
The machine you describe is ideal for Linux. And for web browsing, you can easily do that on a linux machine and it should just work right out of the box.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by 4lex View Post
Do I really need an AV product if I'm not adding any files to this machine?
Certainly wouldn't need one on a Linux machine.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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19 Jun 2011   #4
4lex

Various sevens, couple of xbuntus
 
 

Thanks both. The TV (LG) plays HD content natively fron an EOP lan connection, so I don't need that. In fact it does a passable job of being a relatively complete media centre in that respect - but the web functionality is somewhat crippled. It does include a working youtube app which is nice. I have a dual tuner STB which handles recording and timeshifting duties, so I'm just looking for the odd bit of browsing and some skype for keeping in touch with the folks.

I hadn't even considered using windows firewall as it was so clunky last time I looked at it, admittedly years ago, so thanks for that tip.

Linux doesn't pass the wife acceptance test for this application, though I completely agree it would be more appropriate. I've struggled enough to get her to use firefox instead of IE. That aside I have tried it a couple of times over the years on this machine and have never been able to get the SD reader working under linux, and am about done spending time on it.

Cheers,
Alex
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jun 2011   #5
4lex

Various sevens, couple of xbuntus
 
 

Oh, one other thing. Do we think there's any value in creating a seperate partition in a specific physical part of the disk to run the swapfile?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jun 2011   #6
OldMX

Microsoft Windows 10 Professional / Windows 7 Professional
 
 

Stop chasing your tail like a dog, that laptop wont run windows 7 ok, even if you perform the rain dance around it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jun 2011   #7
Maguscreed

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 x64
 
 

I never got the impression he was suggesting installing win 7 on it...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jun 2011   #8
Devux

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Guides | Black Viper's Website | www.blackviper.com
Great website for tinkering with services on XP, Vista and 7. Provides good explanations of what each service actually does and if it can or can't be safely modified. Gotta say though, if you're really going to just use it for web browsing and skype, I'd go for a small Linux install. They have a few distros that look really close to Windows XP, and it would run great on an old laptop. Brought a Windows 95 box back to life using Puppy Linux.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jun 2011   #9
PwnFrnzy

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by 4lex View Post
I've got a ten year old netbook, powered by a mobile p3/800 and a paltry 256mb of ram, some of which it has to share with the GPU. The XP it was running finally gave up so I just rebuilt it with 7 (which wasn't trivial due to the un-startable HDD, non-booting USB ports and lack of optical drive), but finally it's running again.
Can I ask you HOW you got Windows 7 to work on it, let alone install?
With my experiments Windows 7 will not install unless there is 512MB of ram present.
You would be better off putting XP back on it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jun 2011   #10
carwiz

Windows 7 Pro-x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by PwnFrnzy View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by 4lex View Post
I've got a ten year old netbook, powered by a mobile p3/800 and a paltry 256mb of ram, some of which it has to share with the GPU. The XP it was running finally gave up so I just rebuilt it with 7 (which wasn't trivial due to the un-startable HDD, non-booting USB ports and lack of optical drive), but finally it's running again.
Can I ask you HOW you got Windows 7 to work on it, let alone install?
With my experiments Windows 7 will not install unless there is 512MB of ram present.
You would be better off putting XP back on it.
I'd like to know too. I couldn't get Windows 7 to load on my 2005 Sony Vaio Desktop with 2Gb. It kept coming back and saying the video wasn't compatable.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Lightest possible apps and performance tweaks for old machine?




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