Upgrade RAM or downgrade operating system

  Ian in Northampton 18:05 01 Nov 2011

I bought my daughter an Acer Aspire One D257 - despite the fact that it came with Windows 7, but only 1GB of RAM. I really wanted an XP machine, but it seems they no longer do them. I know that W7 Starter was supposed to be much more able to run in 1GB than full-up W7 - but I was still nervous.

Well, inevitably, the netbook hangs periodically - just becomes unresponsive for a few seconds. Given that it's pretty new, the only cause seems to me to be W7 thrashing around in too little memory.

So, what to do? I could upgrade the RAM to 2GB. It'll support that, and I've found a video of a guy doing it on YouTube. It doesn't look too painful - but I'm very nervous about pulling small PCs apart and putting them back together.

Alternatively, I could downgrade the netbook to XP. I'm well versed in installing XP - but the problem that occurs to me is the driver problem: if XP isn't supported on the machine, will I be able to identify and downlolad all the XP drivers I'll need? I've found a couple of very helpful sites, and I think it's do-able - although the sites refer to the slightly earlier model in the Acer Aspire range.

But before I take the plunge, I thought I'd ask the wizards of the forum what they'd do - or, in fact, if any of them has come across this problem before, and how they fixed it?


PS: a third option I'm thinking about is to dual boot the machine, which is easier to do when W7 is already installed than when XP is already installed. That way, unless I inadvertently turn the thing into a brick, even if the XP installation doesn't work, she'll still have the W7 installation to fall back on.

  chub_tor 18:21 01 Nov 2011

I have a HP Mini 210 that came with 1Gb RAM and Win 7 Starter. It was slow. I upgraded to 2Gb RAM and Win 7 Home Premium with the result that it is a delight to use. It will never be a speed machine but it is perfectly useable. Personally I would upgrade the RAM first, try again and if you are still unhappy then revert to XP. I would be interested to read what others have done.

  robin_x 18:32 01 Nov 2011

For future proofing, upgrade the RAM.

See Crucial System Scanner

Nothing to stop you dual booting as well.

There are plenty of people here who will advise if you get stuck. But it should not really be difficult if you use common sense and take things slowly.

  robin_x 18:34 01 Nov 2011

Oh and shop around when you know the part number of the memory (if you decide to buy)

At least check amazon.

  Ian in Northampton 18:35 01 Nov 2011

Many thanks guys. Interesting stuff.

The YouTuve video I was talking about is this one:


chub_tor: I assume you found upgrading the memory pretty painless?

  Ian in Northampton 18:37 01 Nov 2011

Thanks Robin/gengiscant. Yeah, the video shows detaching the keyboard, which makes me shudder slightly - and the guy has his body between the camera and what he's doing at the crucial :-) stage, which isn't helpful.

I'm sensing a definite consensus here...

  chub_tor 19:18 01 Nov 2011

The HP Mini is interesting to take apart to change the RAM and I was a bit daunted at first. I expected to undo a screw holding a flap to get access or undo some scres to remove the back. It took a bit of Googling and a youtube video to show me how to get at the clips holding the back on (they are under the battery) but having watched it a couple of times I found it easy to do.

  Ian in Northampton 20:40 01 Nov 2011

I found another video on YouTube which seems to confirm the approach of the first video - so I've ordered the memory upgrade. I went for Crucial: at £11.99, it seemed pointless to shop for a lower price, given the Crucial reputation. I'll try to remember to update the thread once I've attempted the upgrade.

I may still do the dual boot thing - but only when I have a day to spare...

  robin_x 22:45 01 Nov 2011

Oh, that is very reasonable. Last lot I bought was 2 x £20.

When you get time, this dual boot guide seems pretty good.

Have fun.

  Ian in Northampton 12:09 05 Nov 2011

Well, I just spent a totally nerve-wracking hour or so doing the memory upgrade. Once I'd got round the idea that I could use more force than I felt comfortable with removing the keyboard, we made progress - but it took a fair while for to get up the courage to be a little rough with it. Unscrewing the screws to release the back cover was fine - and again, it took more force than I felt comfortable with prising off the back cover. Replacing the memory module itself was by far the easiest part of the operation. One little disaster was that I'd been trying to ensure that the keyboard stayed connected, as it's supposed to be a somewhat flimsy connection - and it came away. However, I got it back in place, and reassembled everything. Then I found I couldn't get the battery in because I hadn't properly located the lugs for the back cover... So, I had to get the keyboard off again, unscrew all the screws again, prise off the back cover again, refit the keyboard again etc. etc. But the system booted fine, it recognised it had 2GB of RAM - and, best of all, the keyboard still works. It's too early to say whether the RAM upgrade has fixed the slowness/freezing problem - but I'm hopeful. If it doesn't, I still have Plan A (XP downgrade) and Plan C (dual boot W7 and XP) to fall back on.

Summary: it's an eminently do-able upgrade, but probably not for the faint hearted.

Thanks to all of you who contributed to the thread.

  robin_x 12:17 05 Nov 2011

Hurrah and Huzzah for you. I have lost count of the number of times I have disassembled and reassembled something, only to have to do it again.

It's all part of the 'fun'

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