spent some time getting my computer in shape. Was OK when I first got home, but my antivirus wouldn't update, then the browser wouldn't show web pages; email worked OK, so I knew my internet connection was OK. Made sure I had everything backed up (docs, music, photos, bookmarks, etc.) and then I did a complete restore back to the beginning.
I had downloaded the latest versions of AVG 7.5, AVG antispyware, Spybot Search and Destroy, etc. and loaded these before connecting to the internet. Then I did Windows update, downloaded various other software (firefox, google stuff, winamp, OpenOffice.org, Eudora, etc.) and installed everything, updated everything, customized stuff, and it's almost like I've got a brand new computer. I was careful over the years to avoid viruses, spyware and whatnot, but I needed a fresh start, too many programs installed, updated, uninstalled, etc.
This bad boy is now running faster than it has in a long time, and I imagine I won't have to upgrade this laptop for at least another year or so.