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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Alternative Operating Systems > Tweaking XP performance on a netbook?

Tweaking XP performance on a netbook?
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Jun 24, 2009, 10:53 PM
 
I recently picked up an Acer Aspire One netbook with Windows XP on an 8 GB SSD (with an included 8 GB SDHC for extra storage). So far I've been loving it, except for issues with XP's performance. I know XP isn't optimized for SSDs, but I figured it would perform better than this. I keep it clean with regular scans by Avast and Ad-Aware, and I try to keep on top of system updates (which is, frankly, an annoyance I won't bring up here), but especially lately it seems to be performing less than average. With Firefox, it seems like I deal with it "Not Responding" a few dozen times per day, and when I plug in my Sandisk 2 GB Cruzer Micro, it seems like it lags considerably in getting everything set with recognizing it and such (which I get the feeling is due to that U3 software). It doesn't seem to have as hard of a time when I'm using any of my memory cards in the built in card reader.

So, really, I'm mainly wondering what I can do to tweak the performance on the system before I contemplate just switching over to a USB-installable Linux distro like Ubuntu.

"Listen, I don't do warning shots: From start to end, it's completely a climax. Say your prayers."
     
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Jun 24, 2009, 11:11 PM
 
How much RAM do you have? Have you installed anything else besides the OS on that 8 GB drive?
     
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Jun 24, 2009, 11:35 PM
 
It has the factory standard 1 GB of RAM.

I've tried to keep anything non-important off of the SSD. When I first brought it home a few weeks ago, I removed the MS Office Trial and MS Works and replaced that with OpenOffice, then removed the McAfee software it came with and replaced it with Avast and Ad-Aware, and removed some strange added software (I'm at a loss to explain why a netbook would come with preinstalled DVD playback software), but for the most part I keep files and such on the 8 GB SDHC or my Cruzer Micro.

"Listen, I don't do warning shots: From start to end, it's completely a climax. Say your prayers."
     
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Jun 25, 2009, 10:48 AM
 
RAM is the issue here. XP will run OK on 1GB, but it runs much better with 2. If possible, up your RAM. You should also look into the various workarounds for adjusting XP to use up less RAM, such as disabling animations and tooltips. Search for something like "XP RAM decrease use" and poke into the hits you get.

And remember, XP likes virtual RAM, which means paging out to your "mass storage device." Sure, an SSD will be fast, but 8GB is TINY. So in addition to having a relatively small amount of physical RAM, you're limiting yourself with that SSD. With XP, bigger is almost always better, both in RAM (up to about 3GB) and hard drive (the sky's -almost- the limit).

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Jun 25, 2009, 12:59 PM
 
There's a good chance that your SSD is just butt-slow. I got an eeePC 900 with a 4GB SSD as a gift for someone, and it was terribly slow. Performance increased noticeably when I replaced it with a higher-performance SSD card (it uses Mini-PCIe).

It looks like the AAO uses a ZIF-type SSD card. RunCore makes particularly well-performing SSDs, and it looks like there's a 32GB one on eBay for about $120. That's quite a bit. You can find ZIF to CF adapters on sites like DealExtreme and eBay, which would allow you to replace the internal SSD with something higher-performance. There's even instructions online on replacing the SSD with a 1.8" PATA HDD.

Netbooks typically use very low-end SSD cards from companies like Phison, because they cost less than faster options. It keeps prices down, but it means performance takes a hit.

I have an Acer Aspire One with a 160GB 2.5" SATA HDD. It weighs more than the SSD model, but performance is spankin'.

Also: if you want to upgrade the RAM, get a 1GB stick. The AAO has 512MB soldered onto the motherboard, so it maxes out at 1.5GB (one of the only things I dislike about this particular netbook). Don't bother getting a 2GB stick. I'd also disable the paging file entirely - right-click on My Computer, and go to Properties. In the System Properties window that opens up, click the "Advanced" tab, and then the "Advanced" tab in the window that opens. You'll see a "Change" button near the bottom inside a box labeled "Virtual memory". Click this button, and click the radio button next to "No paging file" Click Set, then OK, and then click OK back out through the properties windows. You should be prompted to restart your computer. This will make a big difference in the available space on your SSD, and should make a small difference in performance.

In the end, though, you're going to want to swap out the SSD for a better one (I really recommend RunCore, although I put an STEC-branded 8GB SSD pulled from a Dell Mini 9 in the eeePC 900, and it made a big difference in performance).
( Last edited by shifuimam; Jun 25, 2009 at 01:06 PM. )
     
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Jun 26, 2009, 01:13 AM
 
     
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Jun 26, 2009, 08:34 AM
 
That's kind of surprising, although I suspect that most of the people interviewed were technophobe-types. The only thing my AAO and HP Mini 1000 haven't been able to handle particularly well is 3D gaming. Hell, even my 900MHz eeePC 701 handles Flash perfectly.
     
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Jul 3, 2009, 02:36 PM
 
Well, I went to disable page filing, and I discovered that it already is disabled. And a new SSD isn't really an option for me, as right now I'm unemployed and all my saved money is going towards dorm supplies for my transfer college and my monthly cell phone bill.

And speaking on the subject of that article, aside from these performance hiccups, I do actually love this computer. But, I also knew not to expect high performance out of it while I was pricing them out, so I wasn't going in with a lot of the preconceived notions that a lot of consumers probably have.

"Listen, I don't do warning shots: From start to end, it's completely a climax. Say your prayers."
     
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Aug 17, 2009, 05:13 PM
 
There are some simple steps to take in order to tweak Windows XP performance on a netbook. This post (Ten Ways to Optimize Your Netbook » TuneUp Blog about Windows) offers some helpful steps including using a lightweight MediaPlayer, disabling unnecessary backgrounds and upgrading your RAM. We would love to hear if your system’s performance has improved!
     
   
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