My computer has been acting strange upon start up. It takes a little longer than usuall to show my accounts and once I click them it also takes a bit longer. When the home screen finally comes on its a gray screen. This screen lasts for almost 30 seconds. Is this something I need to be concerned about? How do I fix this?
Testing your hardware is recommended. If your programs run/well after the start-up sequence your problem is most likely software.
The cheater's test is to download a LiveCD distribution of Linux and check to see that it runs, If you feel experimental Fedora or If you want something closer to whar you are use to try Linux Mint. Burn the ISO to Disk and boot to it, your hard drive should be unaffected. (The Torrent Downloads will most likely be faster, these distributions are completely free to the public and LEGAL)
ASSUMING THE PROBLEM IS SOFTWARE:
To the best of my experience this is not normal, but we need to get an idea of the extent of the issue. Start with the Basics, then report on what you find.
Run an anti-virus program, do a full scan. Microsoft Security Essentials is great and free
Run an anti-spyware program, SpyBot Search and Destroy is my choice and free
Lastly, run TrenMicro's HiJack This, and post the log
If you cannot install/run these programs your computer has a problem, Pressing F8 while booting will give you the boot options menu, choose safe mode (with networking is recommended)
If safe mode fails or continues to register the problem, backing up your data and re-loading are most likely in your near future.