Firstly what do you use for malware scanning? We find that the older Spybot Search & Destroy, and Lavasoft's AdAware no longer fit well with today's anti-virus scanner, and in particular Spybot's Tea-Timer and Lavasoft's AdWatch can cause conflicts as they are always running in the background interrupting the anti-virus real-time scanning.
So, if you have either or both I would recommend you uninstall those and move onto either Malwarebytes' Anti-malware or SUPERAntiSpyware.
Next, what does CNET remind you about? Your Avast anti-virus should update it's virus definitions automatically and should also advise you about any program updates for itself.
The options I would try;
1] Does your Start menu have a Run option shortcut? If not, open Start and in the Search box type in Run. Run should appear at the top of the list, so click that and the Run command dialog should open.
2] In the Run dialog, type in msconfig and click OK. (For clarity, that is MSCONFIG). In the new window, for the System Configuration Editor, goto the Startup tab. Check down the list and remove any ticks for any software that is not necessary at startup, eg Instant Messengers, Quicktime, Real Player, anything that has a shortcut on your Desktop or in the Start menu. Any entry you are not sure about, use Google to find more.
3] Make sure there are no corrupted files on your Desktop, eg videos or photos, even if they are only shortcuts. Explorer, (which is your Desktop), attempts to render icons for such files and if the files are corrupt, Explorer can fail or freeze.
4] When you can open your Task Manager, open the Processes tab and work down the list looking for entries that are using CPU. You can click the CPU column header either once or twice to list the entries in CPU Usage order. You may have to click the option at the bottom of the Task Manager window to 'Show processes for all users". Again, use Google to check any processes you are not sure about.
5] Open IE, (Internet Explorer), even if you don't use it, and check it's Add-ons, (Tools > Manage Add-ons), for any that may be causing Explorer to fail. IE is integrated into Windows and any bad or corrupted add-ons could cause other problems. If you don't use IE at all, goto Tools > Internet Options, then the Advanced tab and click the Reset button. This removes all Add-ons and 3rd party toolbars and plugins.
6] Open Firefox and review the add-ons there. Try an elimination test to see if any add-on is causing problems.
7] Review your Services. Open Run, (again), and type in services.msc and in the new window check what services are running. Double clicking any entry opens a Properties window and the service can be disabled, stopped, or set to manual there. Black Viper has a list of all the normal services for Vista Service Pack 2 here;
That should help you identify the usual ones.
I hope that helps.
My Dell Inspiron 1525 is about 2 and a half years old. I'm using Windows Vista. Around a year ago I had a new mother board fitted and had the hard drive reformatted as I had a lot of problems. If I'd known the final cost ahead of time I would have bought a new laptop.
Lately I often find that everything freezes up after I've booted up and before I've managed to open a browser, and often when I try to open the browser first time round (I'm using Firefox) everything freezes again and Firefox becomes unresponsive. On a bad morning it can take me up to half an hour to get fully online, and this includes shutting down manually once or twice as I can't even get into the Task Manager and am unable to shut down using the start option. My antivirus is up to date (CNET reminds me) and I have a regular weekly scheduled scan (I use Avast). I scan for malware and adaware weekly and carried out a disc cleanup and defrag recently. Sometimes I come back to the laptop to get a message that Windows has closed down - this happened during the last defrag. I also find that Windows Explorer often crashes on me and then restarts.
I don't want to abandon Firefox, although I know it uses up a lot of CPU, as I like its functionality and I use a lot of add ons.
Any help would be appreciated.