|The data on the second partition has absolutely nothing to do with your problem.|
All brand name computers have at least one partition other than the main larger one on the original hard drive when the brand name original software installation is still intact.
There are two main types of Recovery situations.
- with the older type, the one XPUser4Real mentioned ....
"It was probably a hidden partition for your OS installation, removing that you have no recourse but to do a complete re-install of your operating system when things start malfunctioning."
....you have only one Recovery disk, and it allows you to load a large amount of data already on the hard drive on it's second partition to re-load the contents of the much larger first partition - what you see as the C drive in Windows. That is NOT common for recent computers (ones less than 5 years old or so) . In that case, if there's something wrong with the data on the second partition on the hard drive, the Recovery disk will probably not be able to load the original software installation on C.
Or - if the data is not there, you cannot re-load anything that was on that partition.
- with the newer type, for computers that came with XP on them, you probably have at least two Recovery disks that came with the computer, usually the first one installs the operating system, the other one or ones are used to load the drivers for your system that are not found automatically by the operating system, and applications (programs) that came with the original software installation.
(For some brands such as emachines, they don't come with recovery disks but you can order them. For others, they don't come with Recovery disks , but there is a brand name supplied program that you use to make yourself a single Recovery CD, or a Recovery CD set which will load a blank hard drive).
In that case, the data on the second partition is used for something else and it has much less data on it than the older type - a true Recovery partition.
E.g. on a friend's HP notebook, it's used to play music.
If you're not using the feature that uses that relatively small second partition, you can delete the partition, but you would need to use a third party program to add the drive space freed up to the other partition - you can't do that in XP itself without deleting all partitions on the drive.
Programs that are NOT running cannot slow down your computer.
The amount of data on your Windows partition, which is usually C, has NO effect on the performance of Windows, unless there is not enough free space on the partition, with the exception of the more data there is, the longer it takes programs that need to scan all the files of many of the files to run. .
XP doesn't have the drivers built in for most things that first came out after XP was first released, circa 2001, and it doesn't have some of the drivers built in for things made before that.
Whenever you load Windows from a regular Windows CD (or DVD) from scratch, after Setup is finished you must load the drivers for the mboard, particularly the main chipset drivers, in order for Windows to have the proper drivers for and information about your mboard hardware, including it's AGP or PCI-E, ACPI, USB 2.0 if it has it, and hard drive controller support. If you have a generic system and have the CD that came with the mboard, all the necessary drivers are on it. If you load drivers from the web, brand name system builders and mboard makers often DO NOT have the main chipset drivers listed in the downloads for your model - in that case you must go to the maker of the main chipset's web site, get the drivers, and load them.
If the main chipset drivers have NOT been loaded, your hard and optical drives will probably NOT run as fast as they can on your mboard !
"also 512 MB ram is the minimum for XP to run,"
XP just barely runs as it's supposed to with 256mb of ram - 512mb is a better minimum - you will probably benefit from having more than 512mb.
If this is a laptop, it's likely you presently have two 256mb ram modules, two ram slots.
See response 5 in this for some info about ram compatibilty, and some places where you can find out what will work in your mboard for sure:
Correction to that: