The problem is that a couple of vital drivers tried to slap an SP2 Hotfix on the Windows Installer. I figured out how to get around one of them without activating the hotfix, and for the second one I uninstalled the hotfix before it could get established by rebooting. But there seems to be a fragment of SP2 still in there somewhere, because the computer is slowed to a crawl.
I am desperate not to have to reformat the hard drive yet AGAIN. I can't use the Windows repair option from the Windows CD, because I use Norton GoBack, which is a great rescue program but "masks" the drives from the repair program.
There is plenty of free memory, and the CPU load seems OK. The problem is that something is constantly accessing the hard drive (I can hear it grinding away), and everything else is desperately slow. The best way to describe it is that the computer seems preoccupied. It seems to get worse the longer the computer stays on. Norton WinDoctor is not showing anything wrong with the registry.
I've contemplated looking for newer Intel chipset drivers, or trying a more powerful file and registry cleanup tool. Haven't tried either of these yet because, frankly, I'm afraid of blowing the system again. I am perfectly happy to make manual adjustments to the registry or any other files, as long as I'm sure what to do.
Any suggestions will be gratefully received!