Do I need a new laptop? Advice please.

Started by Papyrus, December 04, 2023, 04:47:34 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Papyrus

Hello all, I'm after some advice.

I use an Acer Aspire laptop which I bought during lockdown 1.0 in April 2020. It has served me well until recently when it began to slow down noticeably. In the last week it has got really bad. The other evening when I shut it down it was 'Preparing Windows Updates. Do not switch off your computer' for over an hour. Today, when I switched it on, it spent 48 minutes in a sort of digital bathroom, 'updating your device', and 'configuring Windows updates', combing its hair and brushing its teeth, before it pronounced itself in a fit state to allow me to do something with it. Even on a good day, it takes 10 minutes or more. Is there anything I can do, or should I ask Santa for money towards a new one?

It has a 1Tb hard drive which is barely half full. The processor is an AMD A9-9420e Radeon R5, 1.80 GHz, if that is of any relevance. I regularly run scans and defragment it and I have (I hope) a secure firewall and anti-virus. I back it up frequently. Trouble is, it is less than 4 years old and I still regard it as my 'new' laptop. Previous machines I have owned have lasted a lot longer than that. Does anyone have any suggestions that might improve things a bit?

As always, I'm grateful for any and all advice.

Cheers,

Chris

keithfre

I would simply disable Windows updates. With a good firewall and antivirus you should be pretty safe ;-}

If your hard drive is an SSD defragmentation is not recommended, by the way.

Brian-1c

How much RAM do you have fitted ? Many retail places sell them with only 4GB, which is nowhere near enough for normal use. You need at least 8GB for Windows 10. 16GB is much better and worthwhile.

Also consider getting an SSD to replace the existing Hard Disk.
Brian

ntpntpntp

I have a Lenovo Yoga laptop which is a little older, but yes that's become slower and slower to the point when sometimes I can leave it for 20 mins while it boots up after a full restart. There are probably things I could do to try and sort it out, but as one of the hinges is starting to fail anyway I've put it to one side and bought a shiny new one (well actually it's more of a mottled concrete flavour as it's one of the recent Acer Eco laptops :D )   

I still fire up the old laptop sometimes just to make sure it's there as a backup if necessary and to use it for playing along to songs in my music room, but eventually it'll go the way of our other old computers and off to the scrap heap. As it is we've got about 10 laptop or desktop devices around the house, and I've just bought one of those Android tablet thingies during Black Friday, specifically to play with controlling some stage lighting gear :) Much as I don't like touch screens I am getting used to this one (and I've bought it a bluetooth keyboard and a USB hub for more serious use).

I wouldn't recommend disabling Windows updates, it's always worth keeping your machine up to date.  It could be the recent long process was a large Window refresh/update. 
Nick.   2021 celebrating the 25th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!
https://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=50050.0

devonjames

Since Windows 10 anything without a SSD struggles.  More memory may help but to be honest 4Gb should be fine with a SSD. I wonder if you are running a pre-installed anti virus software package, something like Norton or McAffee which often come bundled with new laptops. The best advice ia never to activate these - Windows Defender or the built Windows 11 version is perfectly adequate for most people.  If you are running one of these packages then you need to uninstall it which you'll find will improve performance dramatically.  However, that's not straightforward so google how to uninstall completely whatever you have.  You may have to download an uninstall tool do do that fully. Alternatively seek help from a professional who can probably save your files, reformat your hard disk and reinstall a clean version of Windows 10.

JanW

Exactly what Devonjames said.
And keep updates switched on to keep your system safe and up to date.

Firstone18

I had an old laptop which was running XP - yes that old! I got it changed to Linux Mint, and it runs as quick as my new Win10 laptop and there's no update problems like with windows.
It runs Libre Office which is compatible with Windows file formats, all the JMRI stuff like Decoder Pro, and is regularly used to run my layout. The battery is u/s but it runs fine off its mains supply. HTH.
Finally, after waiting over 55 years I am building a permanent layout in a purpose built shed!

Papyrus

Thanks for all the helpful replies, gents.

Quote from: Brian-1c on December 04, 2023, 06:02:30 PMHow much RAM do you have fitted ? Many retail places sell them with only 4GB, which is nowhere near enough for normal use. You need at least 8GB for Windows 10. 16GB is much better and worthwhile.

Also consider getting an SSD to replace the existing Hard Disk.

It says it has 4Gb RAM, so I take your point. I didn't know you could have the hard drive replaced with an SSD. That may be an economical option.

Quote from: devonjames on December 04, 2023, 06:23:45 PMI wonder if you are running a pre-installed anti virus software package, something like Norton or McAffee which often come bundled with new laptops. The best advice ia never to activate these ```

Short answer... no, I'm not.

Quote from: devonjames on December 04, 2023, 06:23:45 PMAlternatively seek help from a professional who can probably save your files, reformat your hard disk and reinstall a clean version of Windows 10.

My files are all saved and backed up. Would restoring factory settings do the job?

Sorry, @Firstone18 , your reply was way over my head!!

Thanks again, chaps.

Cheers,

Chris

keithfre

When I said 'disable updates' I was assuming, from what you wrote, that you're using a separate firewall and antivirus. If you're using the Windows Defender + firewall I agree it would not be a good idea to disable updates.

GrahamB

Go into settings and check all the updates are actually updating. This being typed on a five year old laptop that can't run windows 11.

It was my daughters. Without talking to me she bought a new one because this one was slow. One day of updates later it's still fine two years on.
Tonbridge MRC Member.
My Southwark Bridge thread can be found at https://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=38683.0
My Southwark Bridge website can be found at https://southwarkbridge.wixsite.com/ngauge

Railwaygun

#10
What is the Acer Model number? ( look on label on bottom ( of laptop! ))

This will help In Offering specific advice ( do YouTube search on model number + upgrade)

But generally:

A good SSD ( 1TB Kingston / Samsung / Crucial MX500 ) is aBout £85

A usb to SATA cable to connect SSD to laptop is £4

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/364016034118?

Macrium disk cloning s/w is free

https://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/macrium_reflect_free_edition.html


Attach SSD to laptop
Run Macrium
Select clone disk
Copy old disk to SSD
Open large hatch on bottom of laptop
Remove screws holding disk in place and lift out disk
Fit new SSD
Switch on ( optional to,cross fingers)
New SSD will fire up in 20 secs to windows logon!!

Put old disk in caddy ( £5) , format it, and use as backup disk!

I can refurbish a laptop in 15 mins ( + disk cloning - go and make tea! )

Is there a local tech hub or Restart group - they can often do it for you!

If you live near W London, drop,me a note...... I can help



Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
Ecclesiastes 2:11

This has been a public service announcement
It may contain alternative facts

Caveat lector

The largest Railwaygun, Armoured Train & Military Rail group in the world!

https://groups.io/g/railwaygun/topics

NGF Military threads

https://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?board=146.0

My Military Rail Pinterest area
https://uk.pinterest.com/NDRobotnik/

10mm / N armour Threads
https://www.10mm-wargaming.com/

Motto: Semper ubi, sub ubi

Papyrus

Thanks for the offer of help, @Railwaygun . As I live in Sussex, I'm too far away to take you up on it.

Quote from: Railwaygun on December 06, 2023, 07:03:41 AMWhat is the Acer Model number? ( look on label on bottom ( of laptop! ))

/url]

There is a laptop repair shop in town which I have used before. I will take it there and see what they would charge to do the job.

Quote from: GrahamB on December 05, 2023, 07:52:24 PMGo into settings and check all the updates are actually updating.

Just checked it, and they are all up to date.

AS an aside, is it worth upgrading to Windows 11?

Cheers,

Chris

davidinyork

#12
Quote from: keithfre on December 05, 2023, 06:16:59 PMWhen I said 'disable updates' I was assuming, from what you wrote, that you're using a separate firewall and antivirus. If you're using the Windows Defender + firewall I agree it would not be a good idea to disable updates.

Trying to disable updates on any computer used on the internet is a really dumb idea - and fortunately it's quite difficult to do in recent versions of Windows. Third party antivirus and firewall software cannot be relied on to prevent exploits involving unpatched flaws in the operating system.

Yes, I do have firm views on this as I manage a computer network and it's irritating to see people actively advocating this sort of silliness. Open target computers which are missing updates serve to make it easier for malware to spread which is a risk to everyone.

As regards the original question, as others have said more RAM and an SSD if it doesn't already have one are likely to make a big difference. I'd suggest trying to find a small local computer shop and asking them to have a look. They maybe able to clone the hard drive onto a new SSD so all files and settings remain.

One of that age can probably also run Windows 11 - if so it will probably be showing as an option in the updates section of the settings app.

Railwaygun

https://uk.crucial.com/compatible-upgrade-for/acer/aspire-a315-22

The laptop can take 12gb RAM - you have 4gb. An extra 4gb would be useful, but you are limited by your processor, not RAM.

The local shop should be able to give you a quote ( get a quality SSD as I suggested earlier)


Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
Ecclesiastes 2:11

This has been a public service announcement
It may contain alternative facts

Caveat lector

The largest Railwaygun, Armoured Train & Military Rail group in the world!

https://groups.io/g/railwaygun/topics

NGF Military threads

https://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?board=146.0

My Military Rail Pinterest area
https://uk.pinterest.com/NDRobotnik/

10mm / N armour Threads
https://www.10mm-wargaming.com/

Motto: Semper ubi, sub ubi

RBTKraisee

#14
Stay far away from upgrading this laptop to Windoze 11. Updating any version of Windoze to the next one is tricky at the best of times, and is an absolute living nightmare if it ever goes wrong - and upgrades go wrong so, so often. My rule for laptops has always been: Whatever the laptop comes with originally, is the best version of the operating system for that set of hardware, and you'd be very wise to leave it that way.

Your CPU has been fine for the last three years, so I do not believe that is your problem.

More memory always helps. The original 4Gb (soldered to the motherboard) is very, very limiting on Windoze 10. When PC's run out of RAM memory they try to use "virtual memory", which is a block of space located on the Hard Disc Drive. Unfortunately, HDD's operate about 1000 times slower than memory does, so things really slow down when virtual memory gets used. You can use CTRL-ALT-DEL > Task Manager to see exactly how much memory your computer is using at any given time.

The 8Gb Crucial memory upgrade that Railwaygun mentioned should work perfectly in this laptop. https://uk.crucial.com/memory/ddr4/ct8g4sfra32a/ct18620093

Here is a video that shows you how to get inside your laptop. You don't need to mess with the HDD or the battery, so ignore those bits. But the memory slot you will need, is located in the top right area and is shown clearly, later in the vid.

Warning: Always take full precautions to prevent Electro-Static Discharge when opening up any computer!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-SDo1CgO_o


Next, I would download the free version of CCleaner (do not bother to pay for the full version, it isn't worthwhile): https://www.ccleaner.com/ccleaner/download

Run it to clean up your old files, which may be slowing the system down. Don't get distracted by the other features in the program, they're really just trying to up-sell you a pay-for product that you don't really need unless you're a "power user".


Then, you should take a look through your list of installed applications (Start > Settings > Apps. I would get rid of any programs that haven't been run in over a year. BE CAREFUL not to uninstall something critical - so make sure you get advice from someone who knows PC's when you do this. If in doubt, leave it alone.


Next up, you should figure out what applications are starting when Windoze starts. Most of them aren't needed and they're just slowing the machine down. Again take advice from someone who understands this. I use the old version 1.6.2 of SpyBot (https://www.safer-networking.org/mirrors162/) which can show a nice simple list once you enable the Advanced Mode. For a comprehensive list of programs starting in the background Autoruns (https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/downloads/autoruns) will find everything, but it is a complex and powerful program that you really need an expert to use it safely.


Finally, once your machine has sufficient memory, replacing your Hard Disc Drive (HDD) with a Solid State Drive (SSD) would certainly speed up the loading of all your programs - including booting up. But it comes with the headache of having to transfer the operating system and all your files over to the new drive. That may be more of a bother - and more expensive - than it is really worth. Do the memory upgrade and the software suggestions above and see how things are running. Only then go check with your local shop for the costs involved in getting a new drive and transferring everything over before committing to this. I suspect the labour costs involved may be close to that of just getting a newer, more powerful machine. Macrium works pretty well if you want to try it for yourself - but be aware that if the program fails for any reason, it could be a nightmare to fix.


If you don't have a trust-worthy under-20 in the family or in the local neighbourhood who can easily assist, I can probably give you some remote assistance on the trickier bits.

Ross.
"The meek shall inherit the Earth. The rest of us are going to the stars" -Robert Heinlein
An Ex-Pat Brit:  Two decades living in Florida and still an unhealthy shade of "British Tourist White"

Steam Locomotive Wheel Dimensions: https://www.shorturl.at/xAEKW

All my available products are listed in the first post in my workbench thread.

Please Support Us!
February Goal: £100.00
Due Date: Feb 29
Total Receipts: £103.45
Above Goal: £3.45
Site Currency: GBP
103% 
February Donations