I get this problem late at night - and it's usually because some of the scans have started to take up CPU time.
Look in Task Manager for processes running (in the Processes tab) when this occurs (make a screen shot or two for your reference). Then, when it's back up and working normally - check the screen shots against what's in the Task Manager and you should be able to find the culprit. For me, it was my Anti-virus and anti-spyware scans that were slowing it down.
Extra RAM is not a cureall. All it does is to shift the bottleneck in your system to somewhere else. In my case, it shifted it to the processor as evidenced by the scans running when it slowed down. Resources are not just RAM, but are also, CPU, bus speed, hard disk, etc - anything that the computer uses to process your work. RAM is the most common culprit - but not the only one by a long shot!
I would suggest placing a higher priority on the free disk space. It may also be impacting your performance adversly. Additionally, you're at a higher risk for data loss or drive failure when a disk is overcrowded (because it has to thrash about more in order to do the same amount of work).
Finally, here's the 2 free programs that I use for startups:
Basic: StartupCPL by Mike Lin - http://www.mlin.net/StartupCPL.shtml
Advanced: Autoruns by SysInternals - http://www.sysinternals.com/Utilities/Autoruns.html
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able. - John
(my website: http://www.carrona.org/
)**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack
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