General Question

Steven0512's avatar

What to put on an HP laptop to keep it running nicely?

Asked by Steven0512 (529points) July 29th, 2009

I am formatting my gf’s HP laptop, getting rid of Vista and installing an older version on Windows as well as MS Office. I’m a Mac person myself so what else should I put on it to keep it running smoothly? I see Firefox instead of IE on here often, what else should I know?

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12 Answers

rafiss's avatar

Do you know exactly what her needs are? If you could be more specific about what types of things she uses her laptop for that would be great. Generally speaking though, I guess you could look into using VLC for watching video and trying out Pidgin or Digsby for instant messaging (Warning: if you’re using Digsby make sure not to install the many adware programs they try to force on you during the setup). If you want to try something besides Microsoft Office, I suggest trying OpenOffice which is free and replaces all of the Microsoft products. Many people criticize iTunes for being bloatware, so if you feel this way maybe you could look into MediaMonkey or Songbird. Songbird is unique in that it supports extensions, but at the same time these can cause it to run slow. MediaMonkey is pretty slim, and is great for tagging music collections. Both can support iPods with a little setup, but iPhones/iTouches are a little more annoying to use with them.

Anyway, if you’re looking for more things, maybe you could give a few more details.

erniefernandez's avatar

Google the following:

WinPatrol” & ”TaskCatcher” by Bill Studios. These will give you total control of your hidden tasks, background processes, autostartup registry, etc….

I like Firefox as a browser.

Avira Antivirus has a free virus suite that’s very low-profile and effective.

se_ven's avatar

Definitely a good anti-virus like AVG
File Compression/Extraction 7-Zip
Browsers: Firefox is good, as well as Google Chrome or Opera

You might look into the upcoming windows7. There are a lot of good reviews about it including features of Vista (and more) but being less resource intensive (which is one of the biggest issues with Vista).

Steven0512's avatar

She’s a teacher and really only uses Internet, work email, and most of the office software.

erniefernandez's avatar

Also, there’s this version of Windows XP called Windows XP Black Edition, which can be found on the kind of legally questionable file sharing sites that a pirate would use to keep the authorities at bay.

XP Black Edition is ultra slimmed and super stable and is probably the most functional version of XP I have ever seen EVER. Of course, I would not recommend download ing it for its ease of use or easy installation and stability since it is hacked.

Just saying

Saturated_Brain's avatar

@erniefernandez , @rafiss & @se_ven, I just had to comment on the high quality of your answers. GA to all of ya! Keep it up guys! You’re doing great! Carry on doing this and you’ll fit just right in.

Evan's avatar

I’ve done a lot of reformatting of older computers, in order to keep em running as new, and one of the things i’ve found helps the most, is keeping the number of installed programs as low as possible. That, and not overfilling the hard drive in general (w/ music, videos, etc.), will by far be the best way to keep it running smoothly.

I would definitely put either XP, or maybe even Win2K on there if you have a copy of that. If you can get your hands on a stripped down version of XP (such as the Black Edition mentioned above, or something from a friend, maybe), i’ve found that to be a good help.

As for programs you should install..

* Firefox is good, but Chrome uses a lot less resources, if she’s into trying it out

* Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware are essential. And as much as there are a bazillion free ones out there, I’m a personal fan of Norton (Symantec). I mean, you use your computer EVERY day of the year, quite possibly, which means that even if a subscription is around $60/year.. that’s only SIXTEEN CENTS per day to keep your computer safe and sound.

* Show her how to Defrag her hard drive every month or two (accessories, system tools, usually)

* Open Office is fine, but if you have a version of MS Office, you may as well not make her learn new programs.

Beyond that, if as you said, she doesn’t use much else.. then you should really just go into the Add/Remove Programs utility, and uninstall just about ANYthing that’s not a program you just installed (Internet, and MS Office, and your Anti-Virus), or that’s clearly a Windows program or Windows Update. Everything else should be uninstalled.

If you want, you could even go so far as to delete all of the “sample” items that often come included with Windows.

Good luck! and post another response if you have any problems come up.

chronohart's avatar

Keeping it running smoothly is more about the maintenance than the programs you install. Regularly running Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter (both located in Start->Accessories->System Tools) do wonders.

As for programs, the most important thing is to install a good Anti-virus and Anti-spyware program. I use AVG for all of my anti -virus/-spyware needs. I haven’t had a problem in the 3 years I’ve been using the free version.

I would also recommend replacing some of the more resource intensive programs (especially Microsoft products) with good quality freeware equivalents.
As @rafiss mentioned, OpenOffice is a great replacement for all of Microsoft Office.
I’ve been using Firefox for web browsing for years now and love it.
Pidgin is a great replacement for nearly all other IM clients.
I personally use Songbird in place of Windows Media Player.
I’ve also found Foxit Reader to be a great replacement for Adobe Reader.

And, of course, try to keep Windows up to date.

erniefernandez's avatar

All these things would run beautifully on the ultra-fast, unimaginably stable, and extremely slim and light Windows XP Black that I was mentioning.

willpower's avatar

If you’re learning a new OS anyway, you may as well go with Ubuntu for her needs. It comes with OpenOffice, Firefox, and most anything else she’ll need right from the start. And, she won’t have to worry about running antivirus, defragmenting, or any of the usual Windows maintenance.

AskBlam's avatar

Antivirus: Avast!
AVG is crap, ever since the v8 release!

Spybot S&D
Spyware Terminator




Download HijackThis from here:

Then post the completed log here, and I will analyse it for any viruses and/or unneeded programs.

Oh-and one more thing. Avoid Norton and McAfee at all costs!


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