How To Speed Up an Older Computer

Dear Computer Lady,

I have an older PC with windows XP. Intel(R), Pentium (R) CPU 1.90 GHZ, 512MB of RAM.

Is there any way to get more speed?

Can I safely change from XP to Vista Home? I already bought a new CP with windows 8 and I got rid of it because I did not like windows 8.

Please help me as I have seen you help so many people for a long time.

Love your site, Jim

Dear Jim,

The best way to speed up your computer is to increase the amount of RAM, but you can’t purchase just any RAM, you have to make sure it will work with your computer.

The easiest way to determine what kind of RAM your computer can use, and how much it is capable of using (every computer has a maximum amount of RAM that it can handle) is to use the Crucial Memory Advisor located in the right column, on my website at:

Simply choose your computer manufacturer from the drop down list, and click the “Go!” button.

The memory advisor will then help you choose your specific model number and tell you the type of memory your computer needs, what the maximum amount is, and how many physical slots are on your motherboard. You can even purchase their recommended upgrade right from that page.

Upgrading your operating system from XP to Vista is not a good idea. You don’t have enough RAM and processing power to run Vista or Windows 7, and if you could get it to run, it would be even slower than your XP is now.

A good alternative is to create a Puppy Linux CD from: and boot your computer from that. It is a great way to try out a new operating system without getting rid of what is already on your computer, and Puppy Linux will run much faster than Windows XP. There are directions on the Puppy Linux website.

In the long run, you will probably have to get used to Windows 8, or switch to a MAC or Linux operating system.



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Elizabeth Boston is a Web designer, Social Media Consultant and managing editor of, “Ask The Computer Lady”.
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    • Bex
    • April 7, 2013

    Aside from upgrading the ram, do you defragment your computer as well as cleaning up the drive? If your computer was ‘fast enough’ at one point, and is slowing down, often this is from old software clogging up the computer, as well as the way Windows files information (all over the place) hence the need for defragmenting and cleaning (both of which are found under Accessories/System tools, etc). Also, there may be loads of programs and processes running in the background that you don’t need (check out Process Explorer, a free program that will scan your computer and show you the myriad of things that are running ‘behind the scenes’). I still use XP on an old computer, as well as Linux, and ‘tuning up’ the computer as well as getting rid of unwanted files/programs has helped tremendously.

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