I want to upgrade my parents' computer, but I have a few questions.

By Envergure ยท 15 replies
Aug 1, 2007
  1. Hey guys.

    My parents have Windows 2000 running on a 700-someodd MHz AMD Athelon, and it takes nearly 20 minutes from pressing "power" to the point where you can actually do anything. I think I could upgrade it for them, but I have a few concerns.

    First of all, I've been lead to believe that all I'd have to do would be to get a new motherboard and CPU and move all the other components to the new mobo, but I have a hard time believing it's that simple. I speculate I'd also have to get a new PSU, at the very least, and that several other old components would be incompatible with the new mobo.

    Secondly, I don't know what effect the upgrade might have on the OS (Windows 2000). If I had to reinstall it I'd have to do some research, but it can't be that hard, right?

    I don't have much (okay, any) experience with building or upgrading computers, so I'd love some help with this. The closest I've ever come was when their computer was running really hot and I had to take out the PSU and the heatsink to dust it out. I have a pretty good idea of what everything is and what it does when I look at the inside of a computer, and I'm pretty confident I could do this without destroying something.

    Nevertheless, I could use any advice or tips you have. This would be my first job, so to speak (if they'll let me do it).

    And if I screw it up, I have a (much better) computer of my own they could use :D.
  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    It is important that you not joke about this stuff when getting advice from strangers. 20 minutes? Really?
    You need to tell us the brand and model, or the motherboard. You can get the motherboard with Everest, Belarc, or by sending the numbers in the approximate center of the board to a Google search.
    Windows 2000 Professional is a superb Operating System, and works about as well as WXP Home, but not as automated, and without some of the security downloads. However, you may not have all the downloads. Can you determine which Service Pack you have? The latest is a revised version SP-4, which you need for all sorts of stuff.
    You can download a free program called Everest, which you can find with a Google Search that will tell you all about the hardware... and Belarc Advisor will tell you about the hardware as well as most software.
    You want to know if you need more memory, etc.
    You will also need to download all the current drivers, BIOS, Chipset and so one before you start...
    It is not hard to download all the drivers, but is difficult to install them on some computers for the first time. You will also want to have handy the install discs for whatever internet connection to which you want to return, as well as security softeware for antivirus, antispyware, etc.
    Once you have all the drivers, and all the install discs, you are ready...
    But you better be certain you have saved all the important data your parents want to keep.
    So what I am saying is that a great deal of reinstalling everything, is to develop a plan. Write it out so you know you have thought through all the steps.
    Might as well clean it up first, as well. Get a can of difluoroethane gas (canned air, such as Dust Off, or what is sold at Wal-Mart, best buy, and computer stores... $5.00 to $8.00 a can.) Q-Tips, denatured alcohol, etc. DO NOT use a vacuum cleaner hose... ever.

    Good luck.
    Let us know how it goes.
  3. Envergure

    Envergure TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 134

    Okay, 15 minutes. The point is it takes a very long time - far longer than it should, actually. I'm starting to wonder if some virus or software is causing it to take so long (I suspect Norton antivirus). No one ever just sits and waits for it, either - You have to go do something else while it boots up or it gets very frustrating.

    I had a hunch just replacing the parts was too easy. I wouldn't have thought it was so complicated, though.

    Before I get into doing this I'll wait for their Norton subscription to expire (they're going back to AVG) and see if that helps much.
  4. halo71

    halo71 TS Rookie Posts: 1,090

    If it were me, I would try and clean that old computer up before putting any money into upgrades. When I say clean up, I mean get rid of junk, old stuff on the HDD. I would run CCleaner, AVG, Adaware and the like first. You may find that this will clean up the computer thus increasing the boot up times etc. And this alone may be enough to make your parents happy for the time being. If nothing else, as far as upgrades are concerned. Maybe add RAM or a larger HDD. Just a thought though.....
  5. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    It should not take more than 2 minutes, 45 seconds AT MOST on Windows 2000 Professional. You either have a bad hard drive, extremely limited memory, corrupted data or program, or a serious infestation of spyware. Norton could be part of the problem.
    You can go to the Norton Tool bar, then click on About or Help, to discover the expiration date.
    AVG is free, so no great loss.
    You can download Adaware 2007 and Spybot 14 free. Then update them. They will not interfere with Norton, and may give you an indicator of how much, if any, of an infestation you have.
    Tell us the brand and model of the computer, or the motherboard part number found printed somewhere in the center of the board, for a better analysis of what is going on. Run Belarc to discover your memory slots and install. go to www.crucial.com and type in your brand and model, or motherboard, to determine memory maximums.
    If you have not done so already, defragment the drive. Go to Start->Settings->Control Panel->Administrative Tools->Computer Management->Defragment then click on defragment to clean up the file and data structure. It will not hurt anything, but will take a long time.
    Do you still have the original Windows 2000 Professional install disc ? If so, you might be able to run a repair routine using the disc.
    You can run the free Memtest86 from download. Run the test for 4 hours or 7 passes to test that.
    You can also look at your hard drive to determine the brand, then go to the manufacturer's website and download their version of a drive fitness test to test the drive. All manufacturers except Tri-Gem and Toshiba have such a quick test available.
    Belarc will also report the condition of drives that are SMART enabled.
    When you go to Control Panel, then click on System, you should get an icon that shows you the computer setup of memory, hard drive, etc. This will also tell you which Service Pack is intalled. You need Service Pack 4. If you have an older install of Windows 2000 Professional, you will first need to install Service Pack 1, or 1b, before you can install Service Pack 2, then Service Pack 4... all available for free from download.
    None of the tests I have recommended are destructive.
  6. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    I do not recommend running CCleaner on a parents computer until you are already good at it. It can be a dangerous program when you do not know all the data requirements of someone else. I second the other Ideas of Halo 71. However, no file clean-up by itself will fix a computer that takes 15 minutes or more to boot.
  7. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    I disagree. The defaults on crap cleaner are safe.

    Run the registry repair tool in crap cleaner also.
  8. resu

    resu TS Rookie Posts: 172

    for the upgrade ... youll need a new mobo, cpu, ram and gfx car (if they want it for games and stuff ..... if not get a mobo with intergrated gfx)

    i did an upgrade for my dad a while back and his was an old 700mhz athlon 512ram ... i understand it was quite the beast back in the day :p

    anyway .. start like the other say buy cleaning up your hdd
    defrag 1st as it prolly takes the longest and makes the most difference on speeds of scans etc
    then scan it for virus' and spyware etc

    but as always .. at the end of the day what it comes down to is money .. how much can you spend
    it may just work out easier and quicker to build a new pc with a new hdd and then mount the old hdd as a slave etc
  9. halo71

    halo71 TS Rookie Posts: 1,090

    I have to say that I agree with Tedster on CCleaner. I just didn't want to start a debate after I first recommended using it. I think its one of the top freebies out there for fixing issues with your computer!
  10. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Sorry, but I do not agree. It is not to be used by a newbie who is fixing his parents computer... at least until he knows about the data that needs to be saved. It is not for first-timers.
    I have seen way too many problems with CCleaner when used by the uninitiated, and it is not yet needed for what he wants to do.
  11. frus

    frus TS Rookie Posts: 47

    i got to tell you
    i used to have an old 700 duron with 128 mb of pc133 RAM 20 gb 5400 rpm hdd and a 8 mb nvidia tnt video card, with windows millenium runing fine ...
    now i got an athlon thunderbird runing at 1400mhz (200fsb) 768mb pc133 RAM,a 7200 rpm 80 gb HDD and windows xp with only 1,5 mins of booting time(0,5 mins less than my 3ghz p4), (im about to get a really nice video card :p) so my advice is, get a new and faster hdd, never use norton again , and try to get a good thunderbird (1,2 to 1,4)ghz if not an athlon xp from ebay and u will have a very nice machine.
    Old thunderbirds rocks
  12. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    I'd recommend junk all those programs mentioned, save any documents you've got (and want to keep) to CD, and replace the HDD to a brand new 7200rpm drive.

    That should solve most of your problems, and it'll be done much faster.

    And you still have the old drive just in case there's actually something in there you wanted to keep. To access the stuff in this drive, just get a USB HDD case, and put it in there. You can then access this HDD from any computer with USB ports. Bear in mind the old AMD may not have USB ports.

    If you were to defrag a drive that hasn't been defragged ever, and really takes 15 mins to load windows, you're looking at a really long defrag time, on top of that virus/adware cleaning.
  13. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Posts: 1,277

    Just Get Your Parents a Refurbished PC!

    I disagree with you all!! Toss that Windows 2000 relic in the garbage and invest in a "refurbished" PC!! I encounter this a lot with customers since I started up my own biz. It's purely economics. For cost of upgrading a PC that old, you can buy a 2 year old refurbished one and are farther ahead!

    A "refurbished" computer is one of two types. In most cases it's a PC that was leased out for 2 years to a business or government agency and then returned for a new one. The leasing company then sells it to a refurbisher. If there's anything wrong with it, the refurbisher simply replaces the defective part. The other type is a PC that was sold on a "money back guarantee". The customer decided during the trial period that he/she doesn't like it or has a problem with it and returns it. In most cases, nothing's wrong with it, the person was just fickle and didn't like it. Or if was due to something defective, that part, is replaced. In the first case, you can get a decent computer at a fairly cheap price or the latter a current computer at steep discount.

    I recommend refurb computers to customers in two situations. The perfect case is an elderly couple who are mostly computer illiterate and only need it for e-mail and, at most, looking at pictures of their grandchildren or vacations. The other is someone on a tight budget that is NOT dependent on it for work or school. It's for personal use only and they can't afford a current computer. There are two local store chains where I live (Ottawa, Canada) that sell only refurb comps and there are some real deals to be had. The most common are the 2 year old PCs and the typically between $300 to $400 as is. You can get a one year warranty for $30 which I recommend. Then I advise on upgrading the RAM to at least current standards (1 GB) or higher which extends the lifetime of the system. So, about $500 (canadian dollars! Taxes included too!) you have an almost current system.

    Now this does not apply for those who are DEPENDENT on their systems for work or school or someone who is a comp hobbyist. In the former, you need something that is reliable and fast. In the latter, hey, you'd never allow your comp to get that far out of date in the first place!

    Anyhow, there have been many times I get a call from a potential customer and just advise them not to bother fixing and upgrading it because for the amount it would cost, they could get a refurb comp. Or, I have fixed up their comp enough but advise them NOT to put anymore money into it and start saving for a refurb comp.

    Unless your parents depend on the PC, just look into getting a refurb comp for them.
  14. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    "You're all wrong, and I'm right" seems to be the topic of your posts today....

    But either way, what you're proposing is even more radical than mine... and I like it. But like you pointed out, these comps may have problems, and I'll add, made out of cheap parts, some of which would be very prone to failing. HDDs have a life expectancy of 5 years (I know they can work much longer), PSUs not much longer, motherboard caps and so on also have a relatively short life expectancy. Buying a really old computer isn't really the smartest choice, since you'll just have to start figuring out whats going wrong with it 2-3 years down the road. Might as well add a few dollars and get a brand new, budget computer and have it last much longer.

    But whatever it is, I'd say you should retire the whole computer, and if any part is reused, be prepared to replace it in the near future. HDD should definitely be replaced, as failures would be very catastrophic (in terms of data loss). PSU failures can be very dramatic, or entertaining, depending on how you like your fireworks.

    But just like how you can use a car made in the 70's, it all depends on how well you take care of it. You gotta expect to replace parts once in awhile, and if you don't, and just keep using it, expect the car brakes to fail just as you need to stop.
  15. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Posts: 1,277

    In this case, I said "I disagree with all of you" is that my OPINION is different. My other post was about what is actually wrong with someone's comp which is FACT (as opposed to opinion.)

    Anyhow, at least you agreed with my opinion in this thread!
  16. resu

    resu TS Rookie Posts: 172

    what does Envergure want?
    budget etc?
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