|There are at least three Dell 8100 models|
Dimension 8100 desktop
Inspiron 8100 notebook
XPS 8100 desktop
"Windows XP, 1.4 -128"
1.4 gb cpu, 128mb of ram ?
I'm assuming you have the Dimension 8100.
It has the Intel 850 main chipset and it came with 128mb of RIMM ram, probably a pair of matched 64mb modules
"there is a great deal audible drive activity for 10 minutes after booting even without apps being opened."
XP requires at least 256mb of ram for it to just barely run as it should.
For most people's systems, it runs much better with 512mb of ram, and very well with 1gb of ram.
You should install more ram.
You should be able to find used RIMM ram on the web for much less than it costs new, if you can even buy it new anymore
You must install RIMM ram in matched pairs of the same size, in certain slots If your mboard has 4 ram slots, if you install only two modules, there must be "dummy" RIMM modules (no ram on them) in the other two slots.
If you have a lot less than 256mb of ram, you'll hear a lot of thrashing from the hard drive while loading Windows - it has to use the page (swap) file on the hard drive a lot more when you don't have enough ram, and it takes a lot longer for Windows to load.
Other things that could be wrong.
How long has it been since you last loaded XP,or your original Dell software installation, from scratch ?
If it's been a long time, you may have way too many things loading when Windows first loads.
What is the size of your C partition ?
How much free space does it have on it ?
If you have less than about 10% free space on it, Windows will run a lot slower than it is capable of.
The Intel 850 main chipset requires that you install the IAA - Intel Application Accelerator.
If that IS installed, it is listed in youir All Programs list.
If that is NOT installed, your hard drive(s) and optical drive(s) will run a lot slower than they are capable of.
You must install the Intel Chipset Software Installion Utility (the main chipset "drivers"). If you're not sure whether they have been installed, it does no harm to install them again if they were already installed.
Both are available here:
If you use 40 wire IDE cables with a hard drive capable of UDMA 66 or greater burst speeds, the hard drive will run slower than it is capable of.