In my previous posting I gave you my initial feedback regarding the Acer 751h Netbook that I recently purchased from Costco. So far, I like what I see with regards to the hardware. I also understand that this is a low-powered Netbook machine, designed for portability and long battery life, so I’m not expecting a super fast laptop with the highest performance. Heck, this Netbook only cost me $290 US so I can only expect so much.
So here’s what I did to get the Acer Netbook setup for my evaluation:
1) Remove all the junkware from the system
I hate the McAfee antivirus software because it’s such a resource hog and slows down computer systems significantly. So the first thing I did was remove it from the system. I also removed the Carbonite Lite, Microsoft Office Student, Google Desktop, eSobi, and most of the installed games.
2) Ran the CCleaner freeware software
To remove all the dead entries in the system’s registry file, I ran the program called CCleaner (which I routinely use on my main desktop PC). It quickly identified and deleted all the dead entries pertaining to the software I just removed in step (1).
3) Setup WiFi connection to my home router
Since I need to be connected to the Internet to proceed, I configured the Acer Netbook to connect to my Belkin wireless router. I just used the standard procedure for making the WiFi connection.
4) Updated Windows XP OS
Next, I ran the Windows Updates program to find and download all updates from the Internet. This actually took a lot of time, as the updater found 40 required updates to be installed. So after about 30 minutes the Acer rebooted and I was up-to-date with the OS.
5) Download and install my favorite apps
I now proceeded to download my favorite apps that I plan to use on this system, which included the following: Avast Antivirus (freeware), Notepad++, XAMPP (Apache Server), Firefox web browser, Palm WebOS SDK, Eclipse IDE, Java 6.0, Paint.net, and Sun Virtualbox. Not a lot of software, but some important apps for what I plan to use and test on this system.
After all of the software removal and installation, the 160 GB hard drive was filled up to 10 GB, so that gave me plenty of room for my work and additional applications.
6) Updated the system hardware drivers
I visited the Acer.com support page and found that the Video Driver and Audio Driver were slightly out of date on my new Netbook, so I proceeded to download and install the latest drivers for both those components. I also noticed that the BIOS version on my Netbook was a few revisions behind the latest version (3210), but I decided to leave the BIOS alone for now unless I see any system problems during my testing.
7) Deactivate Power-Saver Mode for WiFi adapter
As I was using the Acer Netbook for web browsing and remote desktop connection to my main desktop PC, I noticed at times the Internet and/or network connection would be dropped for several seconds at a time. Since having a constant and reliable was crucial for how I plan to use this Netbook, this was troublesome. I discovered that the properties for the WiFi adapter was set to activate the “Power Saving Mode”, which apparently suspends the WiFi transmitter if it isn’t being used. That’s a big no-no for what I need to do, so I changed the setting to “OFF” so that the WiFi transmitter would always be on. Hopefully that will fix this problem, otherwise I’ll have to explore whether the WiFi adapter is defective or if the system is unusable.
8) System tweaking for improved performance
With so many Acer owners complaining about slowness and performance issues in the various user forums, I decided to optimize this Acer Netbook with proven system tweaks (see my Dell Mini 9 tweaks page).
The first thing I did was turn off the “Indexing Service” for the main hard drive. I absolutely hate the indexing function since it causes the OS to constantly spend time indexing files. The reason why the system does the indexing, is so that file searching will be faster. The bad thing, is that this totally slows down the system and causes the hard drive to grind constantly. Since I don’t do a lot of file searching, I deactivated this feature. I also turned off the Indexing Service using the “msconfig” utility for the same reasons.
Luckily, disk compression was already turned off for the main disk drive, otherwise I would turn it off as well. I also turned off the file paging feature and did a few more tweaks as explained in the previously mentioned Dell Mini 9 tweaks page.
9) RAM Memory Upgrade
Since I have a spare 2 GB Notebook memory module available (which I initially purchased for the Dell Mini 9), I decided to install it to see if it was compatible with the Acer Netbook. This netbook can take up to 2 GB of RAM (one slot), so I thought I’d install the 2 GB RAM module for maximum performance.
So at this point, the Acer Netbook system should be reasonably optimized for my weekend testing event.