Slow boot time / can't use system restore

For the past 2 months, my Windows XP has had ridiculously slow boot times. It quickly gets to the Windows logo screen, but then I have to watch the three blue squares run across the screen for 3 minutes before I see the "Welcome" page. Startup and normal functioning of the computer are slightly slower than normal, but nothing extraordinary.

After a week of this, I tried to do a System Restore - which suddenly wouldn't work ("No changes have been made to your computer"). Within the past few days, I have tried again and successfully restored the system to any checkpoint after July 14. I thought this may be due to the "System Distribution System 3.0" restore points that I saw, but these are present before and after July 14.

Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Below is some information.

System: Windows XP home
SP 3

-Avast antivirus - Thorough scan shows no infections
-Spyware Blaster
-ZoneAlarm (recently uninstalled with no relief of problem)
-Windows Defender (recently uninstalled with no relief of problem)

-Installed iTunes and 90-day trial of MS publisher 3-4 wks ago; uninstalled with no relief of problem
-I have disabled all non-MS startup items with no relief of problem
-I am on a network with three other computers (1 XP Home, 2 Vista); none have had similar problems
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More about slow boot time system restore
  1. The 1Gb of RAM isn't helping anything, but that's not likely the cause of this either. Just thought I'd mention, I like having at least 2Gb when running XP.

    What is your PSU and how old is it? You can try running a chkdsk on your HD to see if there are some errors.
  2. perhaps download the Ultimate Boot CD and run the diagnostics on it, and get a memory tester and see if the memory took a dump
  3. Here are some of the things I do to speed up things.
    Create a Maintenance folder on your desktop and install shortcut to AdAware AE, Malwarebytes, Spybot S&D,Glary Utilities, Super AntiSpyware, A-Squared. Find these programs at Update and run these scanning programs at least monthly. (some of these programs only work on Windows 2K and higher) Download, install, and run CrapCleaner and CCleaner. Also Defraggler which works much better than your built in Microsoft defragger program. May have to defrag in the safe mode if you have never done so before, and be patient.
    During your computer start up after your antivirus progrom loads you might right click on a blank spot of your taskbar and click on Task Manager. Click on processes tab then twice on the top of the CPU column. You will then see what is taking so long to load. If you click on the performance tab you can graphically see how much processing time is used.
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