September 5, 2008 5:28 pm

Poor, Sad Computer

I technically have two computers – I have my faithful old desktop, a Dell Dimension 8300 that was purchased in 2003 and includes a floppy disk drive AND a ZIP disk drive (woo! Old-school!), and I have my work laptop which is a Sony VAIO thingybob that seems nice. It even has the fancy fingerprint scanner that you can use instead of a password.

Problem is, my desktop has been getting progressively slower and sadder as the years pass. Just recently, it has had some kind of awful spyware-malware-bad thing happen and my Google search results started being redirected and I haven’t been able to access DasBecca which makes me sad (it redirects to an XAMPP splash page for no discernable reason – my hosts file looks normal), and it’s been paralyzingly slow. I ran some spyware controls which got rid of some stuff but it’s still super slow and just… ugh. Nevermind the fact that Firefox 3 never manages to successfully close – I keep trying to open it and it’ll pop up and say “Firefox is already running. Please close down that process or blah blah blah” and I have to open the task manager and shut down the process so I can start it up again. BLEH.

It’s old enough that I’m seriously thinking about replacing it with something shinier and fancier just so I don’t have to deal with it, but I can’t quite convince myself to do it because it would be a pretty hefty investment. I could afford a new computer, I am just not sure if I want to give up on this one yet.

I haven’t reformatted in a while, so as long as I made sure to back up my programs and files I could probably wipe my windows partition, reinstall, and be okay, but is it worth it to try to resurrect a 5 year old computer? Should I give in and get something nicer (like a refurbished Macbook Pro)?

Edited to add: Whoops – by “Dell Inspiron” I actually meant “Dell Dimension” (fixed now) and it turns out that DasBecca is fine in Safari (for PC), so it is just Firefox that is tweaking out on it. Also, my site is back to looking crap on my computer because of some spyware thing – it spaces my comments out by about 600px vertically for no good reason. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Also – I have been instructed to reformat and reinstall Windows. This is probably fine; I have done it a few times in the past. However, I have also been told that I should put the Service Pack updates on CD so when I reinstall Windows I can update it first thing off a CD, not the Internet, because my computer will go down in a fiery mess of malware if I wait for the computer to do its automatic update thing. I find it difficult to believe that my computer would be compromised if the very first thing I did was do all the automatic updates and installed an antivirus program, but please correct me if I’m wrong. Do I need to back up SP2 onto disc? If so, um, how do I do that?

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  • Cristina says:

    Dude, if I were you I’d treat yourself to a shiny new computer. I applaud you for hanging on for so long, because I’d honestly get fed up with a slow pc. Then again, I love shopping for geeky pc things, haha.

    Final opinion: spend money, LOL!

  • Lew says:

    I’m one of those annoying people who do their best to keep technology going until it just won’t power on anymore.

    I say invest in a memory upgrade and a new HDD. Your current drive has probably taken quite a performance hit after five years of IO. Oh an unplug the floppy drive and zip drive (if you don’t use them), give your system less to worry about.

  • Elliot says:

    GG, I think that I can honestly say that I have no idea what that’s like. I don’t think that I’ve used any single set of hardware for that long, nor have I let an OS install last for very long either. I would say, go on the New Egg, buy all new hardware, slap it together, then install OSX x86 on it.

  • Riitta says:

    Random reader here agrees with Lew: it’ll be much cheaper if you upgrade your old computer – that’s the fun with PCs, you can replace any components you want.

    A memory upgrade at least, and a complete reformat of your hard disk should do just fine. If you’re continuing with your old HDD, I recommend not just doing the Windows reformat, because that doesn’t remove everything. There is something called “Darik’s Boot and Nuke”, which allows you to e.g. overwrite the disk with 1s and 0s so none of the malware etc. junk stays behind. Then a clean install of Windows. :) And if with a new disk, then just install Windows.

    I really don’t think you need to backup the SP or anything on a disk (that could also bring along some of the problems you’re having) – just make sure the first thing you do after the reinstall is set up a good antivirus software, and then you can either wait for the automatic updates or go to the Windows Update website and get the stuff there.

    That’s the way I’ve successfully salvaged insanely slow and dying computers a billion times. :)