5 Ways To Prolong The Life Of Your Old Notebook

If you had bought your notebook 2 to 4 years ago – like I did – chances are it is now feeling slow and boring to you. What used to be leading edge is now egging on you constantly for a new breath of life. So what are some of the things you can do to revitalize it?
My 3-year old notebook

The 5 Ways

Note that since there are so many different configurations for notebooks, what’s mentioned here in this article are suggestions which may or may not apply to you. You will need to google for more information and also read your notebook’s user manual as I can only give you hints. You will have to do more research. 🙂

1 Upgrade your memory to the MAXIMUM as indicated in your notebook’s manual

Upgrading your RAM from 512MB to 1GB, for example, can give you a much noticeable speed improvement.

-The maximum memory limit can be anywhere from 512MB to 4GB depending on when you bought the notebook. And for Windows XP, regardless of how much physical RAM you have, there is a 3GB max for 32-bit WinXP and 4GB for 64-bit WinXP. If you need to use past this limit, upgrade to Windows 7!

-If you cannot even upgrade to 1GB (really old notebook), consider getting a new one as it’s not worth it. Win7 needs more than 1GB for acceptable performance. You will be better off saving your hard earned money for your next laptop.
-If your RAM is above 1.5 GB, you can also think about disabling your Page File (not recommended) or setting it to a low value (better solution) so that less hard disk swapping is required.

2. Use Microsoft ReadyBoost if you’re running Windows Vista or Windows 7

ReadyBoost works by using flash memory in an USB drive or memory card as a disk cache. It is not additional RAM. Think of it as a middle man arbitrating between the RAM and the Paging File.

-This is highly recommended for older machines with 512MB or 1GB RAM (at max). It is also cheaper than a RAM upgrade but it won’t give you as much of a boost as in a RAM upgrade.
-For Win Vista, there is 4 GB max limit for the flash device but there is reputedly none for Win 7.
-For XP users, you’re unloved so try using a RAM drive which is another software solution but this is only possible if you have lots of RAM – anything above 2GB is good.

3. If your laptop has a hard disk running at 5400 rpm – upgrade it to 7200 rpm

…. for faster disk access times and better Windows performance.

As an added bonus, you will also get a higher capacity drive. Depending on your laptop, be sure to upgrade the older PATA technology drive with another PATA drive, and the newer SATA with SATA.
OR upgrade you hard disk to a SSD (Solid State Disk). This is more expensive and it is supposed to be much faster than a hard disk. Unfortunately, it has its own caveat as you get faster read speed but much slower write speed compared to a hard disk drive so this might not be worth it for the asking price at the moment.
A Nvidia Geforce graphics chip on a MXM card

4. Upgrade the graphics adapter in your notebook

Traditionally, notebooks are well known for their graphics non-upgradeability as their space is severely limited. They also have embedded instead of discrete graphics. Even if you have discrete graphics, there was no industry standard for a common socket/slot as in desktops. It is only recently that Nvidia came out with the MXM (Mobile PCI eXpress Module) that allows a common standard for the notebook’s graphics adapter. And that is more for cost cutting rather than for upgradeability. Chances are your laptop does not have MXM as it is still uncommon.
Your chance of having an upgrade path here is very slim, and unless if you have “graphics upgrade” mentioned anywhere in your notebook’s manual, it is most likely that the graphics adapter cannot be upgraded.
5. Retire your notebook as your main surfing machine and extend it’s life
….by using it as a file server/media player/p2p downloader for other computers.
No need to buy expensive Home Servers. There are a lot of free open source Linux distros that allow you to configure such a server. Like I said earlier, you will have to do the leg work yourself. 😉
Also, if you have headphones out, output the sound to your home stereo for a better sonic experience as a media player.
Finally, consider buying a netbook. It’s small, it’s cute, it’s adorable and it’s drawing all the admiring glances. Netbooks are also in line with the current focus on saving energy for a greener style of life. Notebooks are so boring and so last millenium. It’s like those Compaq luggables of old 80s. They were the portable computers of their time. Now, the baton has been passed to the netbooks. 🙂