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pc running slow

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Hi... my computer is running slower and is very annoying... we have a ton of pictures on it but i don't know if that is what is wrong or if we are running out of space. i have windows xp and norton 360, and norton doesn't show any malware, spyware, or viruses. in task manager there seems to be a lot of processes but i don't know what does what and if i should get rid of any of them. The fan on the hard drive runs a lot (or whatever it is to make it sound like the computer is doing something). when we click on an icon to enter a program it seems to take a long time to open. i did see awhile ago that the process "system idle process" was running a lot when i looked in task manager and i took some steps to try to fix that. some time ago the computer said our virtual memory was low, but i don't know what that means. i don't want to try to mess with anything like the registry cuz i fear i'll damage something, but as i said norton 360 hasn't reported any problems...
If it's not too much of a hassle i would appreciate anything you could do for me. thank you
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