slow startup of os and programs

I'm not sure what the problem is with my computer. I am not a techie.....just a consumer. I have two 40gig hard drives.(Dell computer)(C drive is 4 years old)F drive is one year old. They both have about 25% left free space. In the last few weeks, every strike of a key is delayed as if the brain is not engaged. Eventually things open.
45 seconds from power button to sign in. The same goes for opening outexp6,looking at emails, Microsoft Outlook calendar, Msft Word, Money Things seem to be freezing and eventually open or respond. Even if I do control, alt, delete, it takes about 25 seconds for anything to happen. I have ez armmor antivirus.(Computer Assoc) full scan of both drives takes 12 to 14 hours. (400,000 files). No viruses according to them. I did a defrag for about 6 hours. Helped very little.
Yes, I have installed SP2 from msft disk. That was at least 4-5 months ago.

Any suggestions? I need to buy a new computer with at least 250 gig. My photos alone are about 12 gig. Any suggestions? After reading some of the technical sites, I realize I don't have the background as many of those who are on this site, however, I would really appreciate any help. I do not do gaming. I have a cable modem. excellent road runner.

I also bought a few years ago a tape travan seagate backup. never used. Unfortunately the store wouldn't take it back. I could not use it. I now realize I must have an external hard drive for backup. Any suggestions?

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More about slow startup programs
  1. <A HREF="" target="_new"> RegScrubXP v.3.25 </A>


    <A HREF="" target="_new"> RegSeeker </A>

    are some good utilities for cleaning registry.

    Also, might want to do an extensive checkdisk on drive to find out if you have any bad sectors on drive, which could slow down performance.

    Might also want to run some spyware programs like Lavasoft and MS Antispyware program.

    <pre><font color=red>°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°`°¤o \\// o¤°`°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°
    And the sign says "You got to have a membership card to get inside" Huh
    So I got me a pen and paper And I made up my own little sign</pre><p></font color=red>
  2. Go to Start - Run - type "Msconfig" click Ok, go to the Start Up tab (this is basically all the stuff you have starting up when your computer starts) and select the Disable All option, restart your computer.
    It hopefully will run a lot faster, you should at least some improvement.
    Try downloading Spybot, update it, immunize, search and delete (Immunize closes spyware/adware/malware holes that are known):
    It's a small download, shouldn't be bad.

    Run that twice.. the first round will get most, might leave a couple things, run it again to get whatever is left.

    Go into Control Panel - Add/Remove Programs. Uninstall any toolbars, Shopping Assistance, GAIN, Internet Searchers, etc. Any program that claims to increase internet speed or help you (toolbar, shopping assistant, etc) just remove it.
    Once you get through all that, restart your computer again.
    When it comes back up, go to Start - Run - Type MSCONFIG, click Ok, go to the Start Up tab, Enable All. Restart.

    At this point, you should see a lot of improvements. I'm sure you'll have some stuff remaining, but it should be a big improvement.

    Analyze for a defrag to see if that's needed, clean up any temp. files.

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