|"a friend of mine installed a mini version of windows xp I believe"|
Probably a good idea (likely it's an "nLited" version), given it's an older machine with only half a gig of RAM. I'd almost recommend a reformat/reinstall if you're having all the problems you mentioned.
"Questions: Lets say the crashing problem gets resolved, I would like to know what as far as for pc protection and anti virus / spyware programs would be best to use, preferably ones that won't use to much vertual memory and I can download for free. I have zonealarm, AVG, Ccleaner, Spybot S&D, Malewarebytes anti maleware, task manager 17, hijack this, peerguardian. So which one of these are good to keep and which ones do I get rid of? I do like to download stuff and seems like it would be smart to keep peerguardian, but not if it interrupts other programs?"
FWIW-Here's what I run on a similar system (Dell GX110 - 866MHz, 512MB RAM, nLited XP SP2):
Avast! Home 4.x (free version--likely update to 5.x when 4.x updates are no longer posted)
Avast! is the only one running in the background (consuming resources) until I bring up one of the others (as needed).
I gave up on ZoneAlarm long ago. Just became "too" intrusive. Windows XP firewall seems to work fine. You didn't state why you use PeerGuardian -- never used it.
Most other programs (Firefox, OpenOffice, CoolPlayer, VLC Player, etc.) are of the "Portable" variety (though they're installed on the HDD instead of a flash drive):