You haven't given any details about the rest of your system, but make sure you've got the WinME drivers for you mobo and IDE controller.
You've got Win ME, that's part of the problem right there. The extra bells and whistles it comes with can slow down your system. Try running scandisk and disk defrag.
We need more info to help you further.
Can't find your answer ? Ask !
Check device manager for conficts and problems.
Allocate the amount of virtual memory to double that of your physical memory. Remove all unnessary stuff from your system then run a good defrag or with Norton Speed Disk if you have it.
Another thing to try would be to get rid of stuff running in the background like that autobackup routine I've heard so much about.