I'd kind of gotten to the point that I thought this problem was unfixable - but since i've had help today from Keith on this forum for my other box (the one i'm currently using to tell you about this) - I have a glimmer of hope once more.
OK - first issue is the biggest. Whether from a cold start or a reboot - system takes 50-60 mins to boot. The system is certified clean of malware by spywarewarrior. Spent 3 weeks with the guys there going through very very comprehensive scans with everything but the kitchen sink! - was then advised to download the disk management software for the brand of HD that I have (Maxtor) and ran basic tests that came back as passes - then ran burn in test. again, no issue found.
Came to the conclusion at the time that noone could help (didn't know about you guys)
Once started the system is mostly fine. It will however freeze up at the most basic of tasks - .i.e opening my computer, opening task manager.
Would be tempted to try the same fixes that Keith suggested for the other box (Tune up 2006 trialware) but the fact that it needs so many reboots would make it almost unuseable on that box.
A big problem for that machine is that nothing shows during boot (I do remember that this wasn't always the case - it used to show a black screen with white text showing current starting processes etc - similar to mac verbose mode) and so I don't know at what point it's struggling.
At the moment I cannot access the other box as it is running chckdsk - as it has been for nearly 30hrs - it's currently on stage 4 at 59%
This was done as a troubleshooting exercise as drivers for an external device were installed and recognised in device manager but the system still wouldn't recognise the device when connected.
I don't want to drone on and probably am. I suppose at this stage what i'm looking for is any information that I can provide in a future post that will help to troubleshoot the box to aid in a fix.
Thanks for your time. It really is appreciated.