My puter had started to run very slowly, even the kids noticed. All programs opened very lethargically & closed down the same. Tried spy searches & virus checkers etc. Decided I needed more RAM or an upgrade. This continued for 2 or 3 weeks. This week it is back to normal & quite sprightly in all aspects. The only difference I have visually spotted is when I shut down, the red turn off icon did not inform that there was an upgrade in process - it was a simple turn off icon. My auto updates are set to auto, so I wonder if M/S have issued a rather large update. I put SP2 on the machine about March 2006. Just info for anyone with same symptoms.
Update - computer is now back as it was, & yes the update shield has returned to the "Turn Off" icon, so I am now running at the speed of a 386!!!! Answer for wee eddie - using Spyware Blaster;AVG;A2;Ad-aware;Spybot S&D; all updated nearly daily. Recycle bin is emptied at least once a week. Temp files in IE - I set to clear when I exit the prog. (Not checked this works though for absolute ages). Only using Windows Firewall, used to have Zone Alarm but it seemed to cause more probs than I could be bothered with.
Updated Update!! - went on M$ update site & followed their recommendations. The shield on the turn off icon has gone, puter seems faster. I now have a small yellow shield in the task bar / status bar with an exclamation mark & when I hover the mouse it says "Downloading updates 47%". I hope these are M$ updates. The HD is grinding away & sounds like a purring cat.
Final update - I am convinced that the prob. is with Auto update. I had to wait for the puter to turn off (while it installed 53 update, yes 53!!!). Eventually I turned off Auto updates & the puter is now back to its old sprightly self.(Apart from a red shield saying Auto update is turned off & the world will end if i don't turn it back on).
Postscript - having changed auto updates to inform but not intall, I found this morning I have 59 updates waiting to install. I checked thru the list & ticked accordingly, then clicked install. The puter is now updated & runs as it should (ie fast), so I obviously have had a long term prob. with Auto updates trying to update itself. I think I am safe to call this topic well & truly resolved.