Re: slow laptop
Keep Windows and programs on their own drive so that the computer can access them more efficiently. Data files on another. This way, you are optimizing the disk access.
Another thing you can do to speed up performance in terms of hard disk access is to keep the paging partition small. By default the initial size of your paging file is 1.5 × RAM and its maximum size is 3 × RAM. So if your computer has 1 GB of RAM, which is pretty good for a desktop PC, then setting your Paging partition to 4 GB gives you more than enough room for your paging file without wasting disk space that could be used for other purposes like storing data. Another good way to improve performance in Windows is to move the paging file (pagefile.sys) from its usual location on drive C to its own separate partition on a separate physical drive.
Format it using the FAT32 file system. Although the version of NTFS in Windows XP has features that make it perform better than earlier versions of NTFS, you can still squeeze out some performance gains for small volumes by formatting them as FAT32 instead of NTFS. You don't have to be overly concerned about the lack of security from not having pagefile.sys protected by NTFS permissions since it's an unreadable binary file. If someone hacked into my system, they wouldn't need to bother with the paging file anyway.
If your laptop (and a lot do) has a slower hard drive, replace the old 5400 rpm drives with newer 7200 rpm drives. If you have the money, you can speed performance of disk activity by installing one of these faster drives later.
*Fact: Microsoft Window's Blue Screen of Death vs Computerforums.org's White Screen of Death. Which is worse?