Time to Replace That Windows 98 PC

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Earlier today Claude Sanford wrote to me with the following questions:

I have a computer running windows 98 that has been giving me a lot of trouble…freezing up, taking forever to crankup, etc. I am on Road runner and I feel like its all the spy programs and firewall stuff that they have. I know I need more memory as the system indicates I am about 60% usage without a program running. When I attempt to copy a CD into the computer for my music machine, It will stop about half way through, it will freeze….

  • Would it be better to add more memory and change to Windows XP?
  • Can I load XP over the 98 or will I have to reformat?
  • Should I just look for another machine, mine is Pentium3, 750 mhz?

Windows 98 is an awful operating system that isn’t supported by anyone anymore. You are right to think about changing operating systems. The question is “How?”

Claude, take a look at what $620 buys at Amazon.com. The HP Pavilion a1220n Desktop PC includes a 2.93-GigaHertz Pentium 4, 512 Megabytes of RAM, a 200 Gigabyte hard disk, a dual-layer DVD/CD burner– all running on Windows Media Center 2005.

In my opinion, if you have both an old operating system and a memory issue with your PC at this point, you’re probably best off shopping for a new PC. I estimate that you’ll spend at least $200 to upgrade when you add the cost of a legitimate copy of Windows XP to the cost of half a gig or a gig of memory. When you’re done with the upgrade, your CPU will be running at less than one-third the speed of a new machine.

Getting the new machine is going to solve a lot of problems that the upgrade won’t address. You’ll have a DVD burner and a very fast CPU, along with a properly-installed copy of a multimedia friendly OS. You might still want to upgrade to a gig of RAM or more, but at least you’ll be doing it to a brand new PC.

I’d also recommend throwing in something like AlohaBob PC Relocator Ultra Control 2005, which gives you a hand migrating your files and application settings from one machine to another. YMMV on this software– I haven’t used it myself yet.

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