I write articles on desktop computers related to maintaining, upgrading, and repairing a desktop computer. I also writ articles on tablets.
Pick the Best Operating System Software for older slow computers
See which operating system is best for the slowest old computers which still work.
An Operating System like Linux and Windows are software which is used by your computer to display text, videos, pictures, and other objects on your computer. It is also used to playback music, audio, and alerts, and for going on the internet. Operating systems are designed to talk to your computer hardware to display video on your monitor, and play sound on your speakers by using programs, and drivers.
I'll teach you how to pick the best operating system for your older computer or laptop since most new operating systems these days run slowly on older computer, or not at all. However, there are still a few operating system like Puppy Linux, Ubuntu, and Microsoft Windows XP which run great on older computer which have slower computer parts.
The main advantage of using an operating system designed for older computers is it is usually cheaper, or free if you choose to use Linux, or you found someone selling Windows XP for under 100 dollars. Plus, you can use your older computer to use software, or play games which do not work on newer operating systems and computers which run Windows Vista, or 7. This means you can save money by not needing to buy a newer computer to play old games, do homework, browse the web, and do office work. You also might save some electricity cost since older computers use less electricity in some cases compared to the faster power hungry computers of today. This means you'll be helping the environment by not throwing out your old computer while saving electricity which is also good, and money with lower electricity costs to run an old computer.
Running Windows XP operating systems or Linux operating Systems on computer which only have 1GB of RAM, and a 1GHZ CPU instead of running Windows Vista or 7 can make your underpowered computer feel super fast in some cases then running Vista, on 7 on a computer which can barely run Vista or 7, so running an older operating system on newer computers can make sense when your new computer is not powerful, or have only 1GB of RAM and a slow 1 GHz CPU.
You also might be safe for viruses designed for Windows 7, but not for XP like how Windows XP and 7 viruses can't install on Windows 98. Linux is generally immune to most viruses, and it is very hard to get infected by viruses by just surfing the web, or opening e-mails.
I'll also talk about very old computers built in the 1980s and early 90s which use command lines like MS-DOS, UNIX, and other old operating systems at the bottom of this tutorial.
List of Operating Systems for Older computers - Buy Operating Systems for older computers at Amazon.
Windows XP Pro, Windows XP Home, Ubuntu Linux, and Puppy Linux are great operating system for an older computer.
Windows XP, or Linux operating systems for Slower computers
Which operating system is best for your needs for running on a slower computer.
Windows XP would be a better choice if you use Microsoft Office, Dreamweaver, and other software which is not available for Linux. It is also easier to install software in Windows then Linux. Windows XP also supports more hardware, so you do not have to deal with your Internet modem, printer, video card, or sound card not working. It is also easier to install.
Linux based operating systems like Ubuntu, Puppy Linux, and Linux Mint sometimes run faster on older computers, and they are free to download, and use. However, they are slightly harder to use, and install software on. In some cases some hardware like soundcards, and network cards don't work in Linux. Most Linux distros come with more software which means you do not have to buy additional software for your computer since Ubuntu comes with an E-mail client, web browser, office suite, media players, etc. Linux is also more secure since there are not as many viruses for Linux compared to Windows.
I recommend you find a computer which has 512MB of RAM, and a 1GHz CPU, and a 20GB ( Over time, the more programs you install on your computer, and files you make or download will eat up a lot of free space on your hard drive, so you should at least get a 20GB drive or use a USB drive to store your files.) or larger hard drive if you choose to run Windows XP or Ubuntu since they both can use a lot of RAM, and CPU cycles during regular use. If your computer is slower, Windows 2000, NT, and 98 are a better choice, but 2000. NT, 98 are no longer supported by Microsoft anymore, so they do not get any new Windows Updates and features like Windows XP is still supported by Microsoft until 2014.
You can run Windows XP on a slower computer with a 300 MHz CPU, 1GB of RAM, and a 5GB hard drive, but it won't be very enjoyable.
Ubuntu can run on a computer with 1GHz CPU, and 384MB of RAM, a 10 GB hard drive but if you want it to run smoothly, I recommend 1GB or more of RAM, and a CPU faster then 1 GHZ. It is best to use Ubuntu 10.04, 10.10, or 11.04 since older versions of Ubuntu which are older then Ubuntu 10.04 are no longer supported by Ubuntu, so you no longer can get Updates for old versions of Ubuntu.
Puppy Linux, Lubuntu, and Tiny Core Linux are the best operating system for your old computer if you want to run Linux on a "very" old computer which was made in the early 90s to early 2000s.
Watch a video on how to install Windows XP on your computer. - Step by Step instructional video on how to install Windows XP on your computer.
Back up all your data first before you do a clean install of Windows. Doing a clean install of Linux is recommended since it is less likely to give you problems in the future compared to doing an upgrade install in Windows Explorer. Plus, it removes all the junk like viruses, spyware, adware, and outdated software which is slowing down your computer.
Recommended software for older Windows computers operating system to run securely and quickly - What Software do I recommend to keep Windows running decently on
It is important to keep all versions of Windows Operating System like XP, Vista, and 7 secure, but a lot of antivirus run slowly on slower computers with slower CPUs, and less then 2GB of RAM. However, Vipre Antivirus promises to keep Windows XP safe from viruses, and spyware while not slowing down your overall computer speed. Vipre has an Antivirus and Antispyware program, so you do not have to run another third party antispyware program along with your antivirus for keeping your PC secure.
TuneUp Utilities 2011 has a lot of great features like program deactivation, turbo mode, startup manager, disk defrag, disk clean up, and system tweaks which will tweak Windows XP to use less of your system resources, so it is faster, more reliable, and more enjoyable to use.
Videos on How to install Ubuntu Linux on your computer - Watch videos on how to install Ubuntu Linux on your home PC or Laptop.
You should first backup all your important files and folders before you begin the Ubuntu Linux install. If you want to install Windows along side Ubuntu, you should first install Windows then Install Ubuntu along side Windows on a separate hard drive, partition on a hard drive, or tell Ubuntu to install Ubuntu along side Windows, and how much space you want Ubuntu to use when it comes time to install the Ubuntu partition. You just need to move the slider on the disk partitioning screen during the Ubuntu Install.
Lubuntu and Xubuntu would be better versions of Ubuntu if your computer is very old, and does not have a fast CPU, and not a lot of RAM because both Xubuntu and Lubuntu come with desktop programes, and themes which are optimized to run quickly on a slower computer.
PuppyLinux the best operating system for most of the slowest computer - Puppy Linux is a CD based websites which let you run on your computer on most slow compu
Puppy Linux can run decently on a Pentium 2, 3, and 4 computer with 128MB or more of RAM. PuppyLinux comes with a web browser, a few games, programs, etc for letting you use your computer to do many tasks. PuppyLinux is easy to use, fast, and attractive.
PuppyLinux is a great way to get started and learn more about Linux for newbies since you do not need to install PuppyLinux, and it runs decently from a CD or flash drive with PuppyLinux on older computers, and run super fast on newer computers with faster computer hardware. You can even save your settings, third party software, the PuppyLinux system files to a hard drive, or even your USB Flash drive with PupyLinux installed on it, so you can load PuppyLinux faster on the next startup, or take your computer files, 3rd party programs, and settings with you to use on any computer if you choose to load PuppyLinux on a USB flash drive, or extenal hard drive.
PuppyLinux also can be a good operating system for thin clients which run programs and files off a more powerful server rather then the desktop computer.
Tiny core, and DSL Linux are also fast operating for older computers, but they are not easy to use as Puppy Linux.
Lubuntu - Best Ubuntu based operating system for older computers which previously run Windows XP
Lubuntu has been one of the best Ubuntu operating system for older computers.
I have been using Lubuntu which is a free operating system based on Ubuntu, but uses the LXDE desktop environment on a old Dual-Core CPU computer with only 1GB of RAM, and Lubuntu has been one of the fastest Ubuntu Linux based operating systems which I ever installed on my older computer. Lubuntu barely uses any CPU resources, and only uses about 140MB of RAM after start-up. The low system resource usage of Lubuntu will make Lubuntu a great operating system for older Windows XP based computers with less RAM, and a slower single or dual core CPU. It can also be installed on 10GB or larger hard drives, so you do not need a lot of space to install Lubuntu onto your hard drive. You can also run Lubuntu from the Live CD without installing it after you start your computer from the Lubuntu Live Install CD by leaving the install CD in your computer's cd drive as your computer is starting up when you turn on the power. Installing Lubuntu is pretty simple. I just need to follow the install instructions during the install of Lubuntu.
Lubuntu is compatible with all the same software like Firefox, Libreoffice, and Gimp which I can use in Ubuntu.
I like how fast Lubuntu starts up, and shutdown. It almost never slows down when I use it, and t rarely crashes like more heavy operating systems like Windows. Lubuntu is faster than Ubuntu because it uses the LXDE desktop environment which is a lot faster than the Unity desktop which is slower in my experience. The LXDE desktop environment also use less electricity/power than other Desktop Environment which means it will extend the life of your battery for laptops, and lower your power bill for desktops compared to using other desktop environment in Ubuntu like KDE, or Unity.
Lubuntu comes pre-installed with Firefox, Abiword, and other software which most users typically use, but I can easily install more software from the Lubuntu software center which is the program store for downloading and installing programs in Lubuntu. Plus, most programs are free like Lubuntu.
Windows 8 on a older PC with 512MB-1GB of RAM and slower single-core CPU - Windows 8 can run on slower computers with only 512MB of RAM or less.
Windows 8 which is Microsoft latest operating system can run on slower computers, so Windows 8 is a better choice then Windows Vista or 7 which need at least 2GB of RAM to run smoothly on a computer.
There are also videos on YouTube of Windows 8 being able to run on a computer with 128MB of RAM, and a slower CPU like 1GHz single core CPU.
I think Windows 8 would be the beginning of a new trend in Windows of making more lightweight operating systems which can run on slower computers like Netbooks, Nettops, Tablets, eReaders, and other slower computers.
Maybe in the future, your cable box, Game console, and other set top boxes will run Windows 8, or Windows 8 RT to allow cheap Windows computing for the living room to watch video, listen to music, play games, and view slide show videos from the comfort of your living room.
My Experience with Windows 8 on a computer from 2007
I personally have been using Windows 8 on an older Dual Core 1.8 GHz with 1GB of RAM, and integrated onboard graphics by Intel, and Windows 8 ran a lot smoother then Vista, and 7 which I previously installed on the same computer. Now I can watch HD 720P-1080P video on YouTube without slowdown like Vista and 7 with the same computer. All my programs also seem more stable, and open faster after I upgraded to Windows 8. My internet browsing experience also seems faster with Windows 8 because my web browser uses less RAM in 8.
If you have a slower Windows XP, Vista, or 7 computer or laptop with a 1GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of hard drive space, and a DirectX9 video card, I recommend you upgrade to Windows 8 32bit or Windows 8 Pro 32bit since it uses less RAM, and CPU resources then 7 and Vista.
If you want Windows 8 to be faster, and your computer have a slower CPU and less RAM like 1GB or less, disabling Windows Defender by searching for Windows Defender in Windows 8 Search on the right corner, and disable Windows Defender in Windows Defender settings under Real-time protection and Administrator, and uncheck real-time protection, and Turn on Windows Defender.
Lastly, install a more light weight Antivirus like Panda Cloud Antivirus. Using Panda Cloud Antivirus is a very light antivirus because it relies on the internet to detect and remove infected files. Learn more about Panda Cloud at http://download.cloudantivirus.com/
Immunet, Vipre, and eSet NOD32 are also very light antiviruses which use less RAM then other antivirus programs in Windows.
Windows Web browser sometimes use a lot of RAM and CPU cycles , so I recommend using web browsers which uses less RAM and CPU resources. Opera 12.10, Avant Browser and Green Browser for your web browser since they feel faster then Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and other web browsers on an older computer which has less RAM.
Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro 32 bit are good OS for older netbooks, laptops, and desktops - Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro 32 Bit uses less RAM then 7, and
System requirements for Windows 8.1 32bit
CPU Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2 (more info)
RAM/Memory: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit)
Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit)
Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
I personally been using Windows 8.1 Pro 32bit on a slower HP a1720n desktop with no upgrades since I got the desktop pc. My desktop has a 1.86GHz dual core CPU, 1GB of RAM, Intel integrated onboard graphics, 320GB hard dribe, and onboard sound.
My desktop can now watch HD quality YouTube videos without slowdown problems unlike Windows Vista and 7 which tends to slowdown more when I watch videos in 720P-1080P fullscreen resolution on YouTube.com
My computer startup times, and opening programs in Windows 8 is also faster then 7 and Vista.
Windows 8.1 is the latest update to Windows 8, and it brings back the startmenu, and make 8 easier to use on the desktop for running desktop programs.
Google Android inexpensive computers - Google Android is a very light operating system which can run on older hardware which is slower.
I recommend Google Android as an operating system for a older computer since it loads very fast, and can run well on slower computers.
You can also buy a new Google Android computer or laptop for $200 or less.
It also has more well known apps and programs then Chrome OS which you can install in Android.
Favourite Computer Operating System whch runs well on older computers? - Vote for your favourite operating system which can run quickly on older computer hardwa
Best Free Everyday Software for Older Windows and Linux Operating Systems
Most of the time it is the software which make Windows or Linux slower, and not the operating system.
Most of the time, it is the software on your computer which is slowing down your computer. By picking better, and faster software, your computer will perform a lot faster then using slower software. Most of the software which come with Linux like Libreoffice, and Firefox seem pretty fast, but software which comes with Windows sometimes seem a lot slower like Internet Explorer which sometimes is very slow.
I recommend Green Web Browser which is one of the fastest and non-resource intensive web browsers for Windows based operating system like XP, Vista, and 7. Download it at http://www.morequick.com/indexen.htm
For Linux, Firefox, Chromium, Opera, Konqueror, Midori, and Epiphany all seem like pretty fast web browsers. Usually the default web browser which came with your Linux Web browser like Firefox, and Chromium web browser are very fast when used in Linux.
http://pidgin.im/ is one of the lightest and easiest to use instant messaging programs which work for Windows, and Linux. It can be used to talk to multiple friends on Aim. MSN, IRC, and Yim at the same time.
http://www.seamonkey-project.org/ is a web browser with a advanced e-mail client, newsgroup and feed client, IRC chat, and HTML editing in one internet suite.
VLC VideoLan Media player which can play most video and sound files in Windows and Linux is a very lightweight, and fast feature rich media player. Learn more about it at http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
Foobar2000 is a great lightweight music player for Windows learn more about it at http://www.foobar2000.org/
In my experience LibreOffice is one of the best free office suites which can be installed on Windows and Linux computers. LibreOffice comes with a Word Processor, Spreadsheet, Slideshow presentation, drawing, and database software. Download Libreoffice at http://www.libreoffice.org/
FoxIT PDF Reader is one of the best PDF readers for Windows. http://www.foxitsoftware.com/downloads/
Gimp Image editor is a free image editor for Windows and Linux which seem to be a very stable, feature rich and fast free image editor. Download it at http://www.gimp.org/
Paint.net is a fast, easy to use, and feature rich paint software which runs well in Windows. Download it at http://www.getpaint.net/
Audacity is a fast, and easy to use sound recorder software for recording sound from a microphone and other sources like sound card and line-in from your PC. Download Audacity at http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
Windows Movie Maker which comes with Windows XP seems to be the fastest free video editor for Windows.
Firstly, Linux operating system do not need anti-virus programs since it is very rare fow Linux to get a virus. For Windows, Panda Cloud Antivirus seems to be the fastest antivirus program because it uses the internet to scan your programs and files for viruses. Learn more about Panda Cloud at http://www.cloudantivirus.com/en/#!/free-antivirus-download
http://www.clamwin.com/ is a good lightweight antivirus which is great for very old computers, but it does not come with an active shield, so you need to install Clam Sentinel at http://clamsentinel.sourceforge.net/ to give it an Active shield to protect your computer from viruses in real-time.
Disk Cleanup programs
CCleaner is a good disk cleanup program for Windows since it only runs when you open it, and does not run in the background like some disk cleanup programs which can slow down your computer. Download CCleaner at http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner
In most cases, Linux does not need a disk cleanup program in my experience since there is not as much junk files in Linux, and manually emptying your history in web browser installed in Linux is good enough, but I recommend BleachBit if you absolutely feel you need a disk cleanup program for Linux. BleachBit is also available for Windows. Download Bleachbit at http://bleachbit.sourceforge.net/download .
Everything is a fast file and folder search which is a lot faster then the default Windows search. You can download it at http://www.voidtools.com/download.php
Disk Management and Explorer tools
I recommend Teracopy for copying files since it seems faster, and more reliable then Windows Explorer. It also checks the file to see if it is fine.
Teracopy is available at http://codesector.com/teracopy/
Xplorer2Lite at http://zabkat.com/x2lite.htm is one of the best free Windows File Explorers for Windows, and is a lot faster, and more stable then Windows Explorer in my experience.
Disk Defrag software
Auslogic Disk Defrag is one of the best free disk defrag software for Windows. Download it at http://www.auslogics.com/en/software/disk-defrag/
Filezilla FTP client is one of the fastest and most stable FTP clients which I use for uploading files to a web server. Download FileZilla at http://filezilla-project.org/
How to make your older computer faster?
Ways to make your older computer faster.
Picking a faster operating system like Puppy Linux, Linux Mint 12 LXDE, Tiny Core Linux, DSL Linux, Lubuntu, and Xubuntu would be the best way to make your computer faster without upgrading any computer parts.
Disabling startup programs can make your computer faster because less software is loaded to your RAM, and picking faster software can also make your computer faster.
Adding more RAM, upgrading the CPU, video card, motherboard, and switching to a solid state drive or faster hard drive for your Windows or Linux operating system drive will make your computer faster.
Sometimes cleaning dust out of your computer desktop or laptop will make it faster because it is not running as hot.
Regularly, scanning your computer for viruses, and spyware can remove virus and spyware programs which make Windows slow. Doing disk cleanups, scan disks, and disk defrags on a monthly or weekly basis can also speed up Windows.
Playing computer games at lower quality settings and monitor resolutions can also make games run more smoothly.
Overclocking your RAM, CPU, and video card will make your computer faster, but I do not recommend overclocking for beginner computer users since if you overclock your computer too much it can break it.
Operating System for very ancient computers
What operating system works for the oldest computers which still exist.
I recommend MS-DOS, Windows 3.1, UNIX, or floppy based linux firewall operating systems. MS-DOS, and Windows 3.1 is difficult to find these days, so you may need to look around.
Some Linux distro has a text mode which does not require fast computer hardware, but is difficult to use for the newbie computer user who never used Linux command lines, or command lines in general.
You may want to buy a book on MS-DOS Command Lines, Unix Command Lines, and using the command prompt in Windows since learning how to use Windows or Unix command prompts without a book, or other resource can be very hard since you can't use internet browser to access the internet to search for command line help tutorials using the internet since command line based operating systems do not have web browser to access the internet.
Learning command lines are a good idea because when your computer can't boot into the User interface, you can still use command lines to fix your computer, back up files to another drive, or computer, troubleshoot your computer, and delete viruses, and programs which are causing your operating system to not boot into Windows or Linux.
Command lines can also be used to troubleshoot and fix problems with your internet, and home network.
Command lines are also very fast, and can load command line programs like ipconfig in seconds rather then minutes because command line operating systems don't require a graphical user interface. Text is fastest to display on a computer.
Visit for a list of Floppy based operating systems.
Buy CD, Floppies, and USB Flash drives to use to burn, or copy Linux, or other operating system to install on old computers. - Storage disk you need to use to u
Most people use CDs and USB Flash drives to install Linux onto their older computers. But, if your computer is extremely old you would use a floppy which is 3.5". You may also need to buy a Floppy drive to make the bootable floppy if you do not have a floppy drive.
© 2011 Johnson Yip
Leave comments on the best Operating Systems for slower old computers
Johnson Yip (author) from Canada on March 04, 2016:
Windows XP is still a decent operating system for users who need to use older Windows programs like an older version of Adobe Photoshop or MS Office 2003, and PC games like Starcraft 2, Warcraft, Age of Empires which is not available natively on Linux without the use of Windows Runtime software like WineHQ which can be complicated to install and use.
XP can run at a decent speed on a older PC with a single-core 1GHz CPUs with 512MB of RAM, 40GB hard drive, and AGP video card.
But, XP is no longer supported by Microsoft, so XP is not a good operating system for browsing the web, or connecting to a network with internet access or with PC which you don't control because XP is no longer being supported by Microsoft.
defunct on March 04, 2016:
NecktieCrossHanger on June 28, 2014:
there are still a few operating system like Puppy Linux, Ubuntu, and Microsoft Windows XP which run great on older computer which have slower computer parts.
visit2goa on March 03, 2014:
Androids4Seniors on November 13, 2013:
You've put some time and effort into this lens - good work.
I have tried several Linux distros for older laptops especially including Zorin but now use and recommend Linux Mint exclusively for older gear that friends can't bear to part with but just can't run Windows 7.
Skelly1983 LM on August 18, 2012:
Really good lens.
Ive run Windows 7 on a lot of computers which only have 1Ghz Processor and 1 GB of RAM, this ran fine on all computers for general computer usage like surfing the internet and making basic documents using Notepad or Wordpad.
Although once other more intense software was installed like MS Office this slowed down a fair bit and stretched the resources, to software like this i would recommend using Windows XP.
In regards to viruses Linux is in nowhere near immune to them in fact with linux being a true open source environment it is easier to create viruses for all Unix based operating systems.
Even though this is the case you are very unlikely to get a virus due to the vary low user base, which makes it less beneficial to virus coders.
All in all really good lens, a lot of information to users who may be looking to bring life back to there old computer, thanks a lot keep up the good work.
TedSue on July 03, 2012:
I learned a lot from this lens and I find it very useful. This is very educational and it is really helpful since I was planning to change OS for my old computer and it also helped me to build a new one and I also got some nice cables from Quality Cables
dmpugar on March 22, 2012:
Nice lens! SliTaz also works great on old hardware.
anonymous on October 28, 2011:
Nice lens! Personally I always suggest XP Home to owners of older computers.
Keep up the great work!
wolfie10 on September 13, 2011:
very nice lens and i enjoyed it very much. very informative thanks