Wow. What a lot of misinformation.
I don't have the disk for windows as it didn't come with the laptop. Can you get a disk from microsoft to re install the OS,
You will almost certainly have a recovery partition on there, which you can access by some form of keypress on boot. Different vendors do different things, so you'll have to either google it (eg, "dell factory reset" or suchlike) or give us some information on what you have beyond "a laptop".
Failing that, you may have some sort of manufacturer preinstalled utility to allow you to burn your own disc. If any major manufacturer in the last five years didn't do one or the other (or both) of these, I've yet to come across it.
how much RAM can you stick in an old machine?
Check out how much free space the hard drive has. A mature Vista installation will have filled it with system restore points.
Vista uses 15% of the disk for System Restore by default. So it'll be using, at most, 33Gb.
At the end of the day Vista is the problem, it's pants!
Cut the smoke and mirrors about memory, please, the OP seems to have a 32 bit OEM system.
How do you know?
It will only recognise 3gb, max.
Cobblers. It'll recognise 4Gb, max. However, you will only be able to access somewhere between 3Gb and maybe 3.75Gb depending on your system, due to technical limitations of the architecture.
And yes, keeping piles of files on your HD will slow it right up.
Why, are 1's heavier than 0's?
Someone else alluded to this too, and to a large extent it's an old wives' tale. You need enough free space for the OS to 'breathe' yes, and anything that will require an amount of space for temp files will start to run into problems. I'd hazard that on this machine, attempting to run defrag would fail for this reason. Beyond this though, whether your disk is 20% full or 70% full won't make a fig of difference to performance in and of itself.
You could always use Treesize to see what's taking up all the space. But really, here's what I'd do.
- Back up all your data. Music, photos, emails, anything you need to keep. Consider Easy Transfer.
- Google how to factory reset your laptop. Do that.
- If Flash is installed, update it to the latest version.
- If Java is installed, update it to the latest version.
- Uninstall whatever trialware crap antivirus is installed.
- Install Microsoft Security Essentials from MS's website.
- Run and re-run Windows Update until it stops offering you updates.
- Re-evaluate the situation. How's it performing now?