XP Home SP3
Pentium D 2.8 Ghz
SATA2 multiple drives
Dual 19" LCD monitors.
I have been using XP since it was released. This symptom began only recently and it affects mostly when I have to go and look for images and files on other large drives (not the OS drive which I basically only use for programs, etc. -- I even moved "My Documents" to a different partition on OS hard drive).
I've tried with and without the Indexing Service, i.e. Disabled or Automatic -- it seems to make little difference:
--- When I try to open or even just CTR-C/copy a file to my desktop, Explorer either is really, really slow at executing or just freezes Explorer ("not responding"). Opening a file in a program is the same -- really slow. If I wait quite a while after boot up to search for and open a file, it doesn't take as long, but it's still not like it use to be -- instant.
General boot-up seems a bit slower than it used to be too, but it's not that critical. I've deactivated as many Services as is safe to do as well as trimmed out any fat in terms of applications on bootup/Startup.
My HijackThis file shows no problems in terms of malware, trojans, etc. I ran SpyBot and it also found nothing -- though I had to nix SpyBot for it fixed something that ended up causing me to do a lot of System Restores, etc.
I have not used any anti-virus for years, and I've disabled Windows Defender (tried MS Security Essentials but it puts a drag on my system). As far as I can tell, my system seems clean. I've been on the Net since 1997 so I'm pretty careful about where I go and what I do.
Which doesn't mean my system isn't infected.
So it's not impossible, it just seems unlikely.
One suggestion that someone gave me is to only open and set all Folders to "Details" -- but that's not practical for me because the files I need are overwhelmingly images or video files -- I need the shells that let me view the icons, etc.
By the way, I also don't use Internet Explorer much at all (I use Firefox) so a potential IE<==>Explorer infestation/corruption due to is highly unlikely.