My home pc runs really slow, & seems to have a lot of processes running. Would more RAM fix this (currently have 250mb)?

It takes ages to load up even firefox when I first boot it up, and can't run more than one or two applications at the same time. I've tried just purging the system of all unnecessary programs, but other than that, I'm not too technical. Is it time I increased the RAM? It's a compaq presario running XP Home

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I'll respond first by saying DO NOT KICK AROUND IN YOUR REGISTRY if you are not an experienced user. Believe me, I've had to reinstall Windows on several computers where the user knew just enough to be dangerous.

The reason editing the registry is so risky is due to the fact that EVERYTHING Windows needs to know about your devices, installed programs, important settings, &c. is stored there. Deleting anything without knowledge of its importance is the quickest way to forcing a reinstall of your OS and a solid afternoon of swearing and self-loathing.

256 MB of RAM is the stated minimum requirement of Windows XP. That is, it was the minimum for when XP first came out eight years ago. Look at all the advances in software that have taken place since then; there are some programs (like intensive games) that can use almost this much RAM by itself. I would highly recommend, even for a minimal setup, at least 1 GB of RAM. It's an inexpensive (about $20 through NewEgg) way to boost your performance.

Use their memory selector to find the right RAM for your machine - it's a breeze. Just make sure you install it in matching pairs, like two sticks of 512 MB. For a long time, motherboards have been designed to use RAM this way as it boosts performance by using both sticks simultaneously (known as "dual-channel").

Next, I would consider getting a dedicated graphics card. Any prefabricated computer you purchase uses an integrated motherboard as an "all-in-one" solution. The problem is, all the devices (video, audio, &c.) are sharing your RAM. Even an inexpensive video card will not only boost overall performance by freeing shared resources, but it will also improve your video performance.

Also, instead of tinkering with the registry (as I warned you - even "registry cleaners" tend to blindly delete bad entries instead of resolving them, resulting in worse performance) I would suggest getting proper anti-spyware and anti-virus tools. I recommend Ad-Aware Free to remove spyware and AVG Free for a great anti-virus (hands down better than Norton - it's more efficient, catches more infections, and it's free). Run full scans for both, as any infections will bog down your machine no matter what its specs.

If all else fails and you are still unable to speed things along, then your OS may be wrecked. Back up your important files to CD or DVD and reformat (in other words, use the restore disks that came with your computer). Remember how zippy your computer was when you bought it? It'll be even better now, because you'll have better hardware. Once finished, uninstall the unnecessary Compaq junk (which is just about all of it) and remember to reinstall your anti-spyware and anti-virus (I do these last as some programs will freak out the anti-virus when you install them).

Take these steps and you'll be very happy, trust me. If you have any questions, let me know.
jj378 years ago
Do you know any more about your pc like Hard drive speed ,the cpu, how long have you used it, graphics card? but for now yes more ram would help a ton based on what you gave.
seandogue8 years ago
In agreement with orksecurity 100% Short answer. yes. see other posts for other valuable info regarding the causes of large memory usage Explanation: Once the list of running programs reaches a certain level of memory usage (the maximum level is set by your RAM) the computer starts using the hardrive for "virtual memory", or what's known as a swap drive, to maintain application memory, which is significantly slower than RAM. It can not only slow the PC down, but also destabilize it.
You also have to balance the memory issue with any limitation imposed by your processor speed. For instance, if you're running on an older system that has what these days is a low speed processor, and/or if you use an underpowered graphics card, you may be taxing the system in other ways as well, resulting in slower performance..
orksecurity8 years ago
You may indeed have lots of crapware running on the system -- but250MB really is inadequate for Windows systems, given just how horribly inefficient most PC software is. Upgrade to 1MB at least. (I went from 1GB to 4GB recently and the difference is quite substantial even though I was already mostly out of the swapping domain.) Upgrading memory is fairly cheap and easy; 4GB cost me about $150. How much is your time worth?
Bigev8 years ago
go to: run->msconfig then, edit which programs startup when you start windows. That should help some, but more ram can't hurt. Listen to djlilpop, I looked at the registry editor frollard suggested and got scared. It doesn't look too compu noob friendly, I would personally get a program to do it for me.
the most common problem of every computer is that, the REGISTRY ERRORS are killing the system, therefore you need to download or maybe install from a CD any utility program such as, CCleaner, or Tune Up Utilities, Registry Booster, etc. any utility program can work, you might also wanna delete unnecessary programs to keep your computer running smoothly, if you wanna download a utility program here is the link and download it http://rapidshare.com/files/253823950/TuneUP_Utilities.rar
frollard8 years ago
250 is really low these days, even for xp. Ram is cheap and can speed you up. If you have more than I'd say 35 processes running theres too much background crap. Try uninstalling 'everything' not needed, and disable background services, like printers, updaters, etc. Go into the registry hklm/software/microsoft/windows/currentversion/run (and runonce) hklu/software/microsoft/windows/currentversion/run (and runonce) Also check the startup folder in the start menu. That is all the crap that autoloads with windows. You need practically NONE of it. I don't recommend rampently deleting everything, but seriously, very few applications NEED to run at startup or be running in the background. Only ones I let run are of course antivirus and firewall.
addendum: To edit the registry, choose start>run>'regedit' (no quotes) the registery is sorted into a familiar folder tree, just find the keys you dont want and nuke them. 'ipod service', 'adobe updater', 'hp printer toolbox' can all die a horrible death for example.