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Gateway Laptop Freeze Up


I have a Gateway model MA3 running Windows XP. Recently it has been freezing up more frequently. The most complex application I run on the machine is Quickbooks for a small startup company I operate. I would appreciate any suggestions on how to improve both the performance and hopefully stop (or atleast reduce) the freezes. I'd like to avoid having to format and reinstall if possible so I'd like to try as many other tactics as possible.

Thank you!
Please tell us your laptop specs. That'll fully help us understand what could be wrong with your PC.
In my experience, a reinstall is often much easier then many of the other tactics, especially if you have an actual windows disk and not a OEM or "recovery" disk, as this allows you to perform an in-place upgrade or install, preserving all your files, settings, drivers and applications.

However, my first step of advice would be to boot into safe mode by pressing F8 repeatedly at boot. Boot into "safe mode with networking" and try and perform as many tasks as you would in normal mode and see if the performance is much better. If your problem persists in this mode, then your issue is an actual hardware problem most likely, and as such you would then need to see if the HDD (Hard drive disk) is dying (run S.M.A.R.T. tests in the BIOS) or perhaps a RAM stick has gone bad. At this point there are a great number of possibilities.

If working in safe mode does resolve your issues, you can then assume that the problem is software related. At this point launch "msconfig" through the Run dialogue (start-->run) and uncheck the "startup items" option to see if this improves your performance and stability. If so its an actual program, otherwise we may assume virus and you should run a virus scan under safe mode (I recommend AVG free edition)
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