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Most likely you are being hit by some nasty spyware/malware. Annoying and plagues everyone who uses the internet, just some are extremely more annoying than others. My best suggestion is to use the free versions of adaware and spyboy search and destroy. They specifically target these programs and hopefully can clear out most of the garbage bogging down your machine.
http://www.lavasoft.com/ -- Adaware
Both are free, though they ask to donate or buy another version, but have won numerous awards and have been proven to both be excellent at finding this stuff that weasels its way onto your machine just to annoy you to wits end.
Try them out and let me know how it goes, make sure to check for updates if you install them.
Glad you are pinpointing where the problems are. I have nothing against Norton, though some people do. To each their own. But you have to go into this remembering there is NOTHING out there that can get everything. That is why I gave you a couple of options to use. I will get different results from different programs just because there is so much garbage out there that can latch itself onto your computer.
One program to rule them all? Never.
One thing I have noticed is Norton was primarily a Anti-Virus. Most of the companies that have been doing Anti-virus software for awhile have started putting together a Suite of programs to help your computer that include Firewalls, Spyware removal etc. Yes, these companies are good with Anti-virus but I find them lacking in the Spyware department (which spybot focuses on). I would rather like a couple of programs that specifically go out and remove spyware and that is all they focus on doing.
Glad to help.
Yea I really shouldn't be so tough on Norton. But Really Peter has not done anything since the 80s and the use of Peter Nortons name really doesn't make it better. I have used various versions of Anti-spyware software. Yes not everthing finds everything but these three find most. It may in the long run be better to back up the files you want to save and then reload the OS if you can't be sure everything is clean.
I run Spybot Search and Destroy with the resident portion protecting me from anything that may want to change things in the system without me knowing about it. This process that runs is called teatimer and sits in your system tray.
Ad-Aware from Lavasoft http://www.lavasoft.com/
Spybot Search and Destroy. http://www.safer-networking.org/en/home/index.html
Good luck and I hope your get it all clean.