Dell Inspiron 1100 booting and running really slow

I have an older laptop Dell Inspiron 1100 with XP home SP2 installed on 2.0 GHz  Celeron and 256 MB RAM. I use it only for light web browsing and email when I am out of town.
It's been awhile since I've used it the last time and now when I tried it turned out to be unbelievably slow, much slower than before, although I haven't made any changes in the meantime.  It takes about 4 min to boot up, and when I click on any window (browser or other) it takes about 15 - 20 seconds to react.
I understand that I have only 256MB RAM in, but it use to run fine at least for very basic use, which is what I need it for. I would consider upgrading RAM to 1MB (which is the max), but I am not sure if this alone would solve the problem.
My first thought was that I somehow got a virus or spyware installed on the system the last time it was running.
I updated the anti-virus (AVG), SpyBot, AsAware... and scanned complete system. There was no viruses found, and some spyware was removed.
The system is up to date as far as Windows updates.
Yet, is is running very slow.
What should I do?
Erie_LakerAsked:
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johnb6767Commented:
Hit CTRL+ALT+ESC, and wait for the Task Manager to pop up. Hit the Processes Tab, and look to see if anything is using high CPU Usage. The CPU Usage value will be at the bottom of the TM, as a total.
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Erie_LakerAuthor Commented:
You meant CTRL ALT DEL, right?

And no, I don't see any excessive CPU usage.

The total CPU usage when system is idle is 1 - 2%.

While opening a web browser, for example, it jumps up almost to 95 but then is back to normal. The same with desktop applications.

Still there's a 15 - 20 sec delay in response.
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tgbekeleCommented:
What is your memory (RAM)?
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Sometimes Windows updates make it slow.
Try to update video drivers.
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Also, check if your RAM is not shared completely to video controller. That often happens.
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Erie_LakerAuthor Commented:
It had become slow before I even attempted to do Win updates.

and how do I check if RAM is shared completely to vid controller?
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Right click on My Computer - Properties. See the amount of RAM there.
Also, enter BIOS and check how much RAM is allowed to use by video.
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Erie_LakerAuthor Commented:
did you read the original question?

 256MB RAM
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johnb6767Commented:
"You meant CTRL ALT DEL, right?"

No, I meant CTRL+SHIFT+ESC..... Hotkey for the Task Manager.

Whats your SWAP file set to?

If it was shared video RAM, I would expect you to see 240mb RAM, or similar, not an even 256.
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xmachineCommented:
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Yes, I read the original question. I am considering that your memory is taken for video, swap or anything else.
Also, use Memtest to test the health of RAM, as the behavior you described is typical for PCs that lack the RAM amount.
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johnb6767Commented:
Which solution helped you out?
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