My problem began harmlessly enough. Several months ago I noticed my laptop's hard drive LED flickering more and more frequently. At first it wasn't enough to concern me because programs ran at their normal speed and regular checks for malware turned up nothing. In time, though, the computer started to run more and more slowly even while the hard drive seemed to be getting busier and busier. As of the last few weeks things have worsened to the point where the computer is basically unusable. Waiting for an application or my browser to load can sometimes take ten or fifteen minutes, and shutting the computer down at the end of a session is like waiting in line at the airport -- it's endless. Meantime, the hard drive's LED flickers constantly. It is maddening.
Here is what I have done so far, to no avail:
1. Cleaned temp/junk files off the disk using Norton SystemWorks.
2. Run XP's Defragmentation and Error-checking utilities.
3. Checked for malware. I have the standard assortment: Spybot S&D, Ad-Aware, Spysweeper, and NIS.
4. Removed unused programs to the point where the hard disk is 50% free.
I have also used Task Manager to check active processes. Those I weren't sure of I looked into, and so far everything seems legit. But still my computer just crawls along, getting slower by the day.
There is one small but perhaps significant point: Right before I began noticing the slowdown, I switched from using a cable modem to using DSL because I moved and cable is not available where I now live. Could the change from cable to DSL be the cause? I find that hard to believe, but at this point I am at a complete loss as to how to solve this problem. Please help!