You can do a few things to optimize your performance on that laptop.
The good thing is that most of these steps can apply to a desktop, this will make it easier for you to keep these small yet simple steps in mind whenever you might need them.
The first thing you can do is defragment your drive. Contrary to popular belief, an NTFS drive can get very fragmented and thus lower your performance. Windows XP has a utility called Defrag locaged in Start>Programs>Accessories>System Tools.
It will take a few minutes so try it overnight.
Another one is the disk cleanup (located in the same area as Defrag)
These two simple steps can drastically improve your performance when it comes to the hard drive.
And look at that... you got multiple responses on the same day.. look like there are people around..