About two weeks ago, I started having problems. The computer would intermittently take a long time to connect to Google, less time but still a noticeable delay in connecting to Yahoo. Using either email service often but not always means lengthy waits. On several occasions, trying to send email with attachments resulted in absolutely nothing happening. As I'm looking for work and send resumes as pdfs, this is a major problem.
I later figured out that I was encountering delays when trying to connect to websites with any type of security functions. Coasterbuzz.com, a roller coaster website, connects no problem. My bank's website, sometimes very slow. And as noted, email occasionally comes to a dead stop.
Perhaps related, perhaps not, most of the time when trying to use Internet Explorer, it shuts down within seconds of opening a browser window.
I have downloaded various programs recently from the Internet -- but all those, since this problem started. Several weeks ago I did get an email, from a recognized email address that I opened and deleted, and that email was followed shortly thereafter by an email, from a recognized address, saying don't open that first email as it might contain a virus (unfortunately it arrived too late for me).
When I do download programs etc I stick with recognized companies or recommendations from people/companies I trust.
Over the past few days, I have downloaded various adware/spyware programs suggested by Google's Help pages, which haven't seemed to help much.
The computer is a Compaq Presario... um, does SR1650NX mean anything (yes, yes, yes.. I'm an idiot with a computer... )? Windows XP Home Edition. Mozilla Firefox as default browser.