Help!!!

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Your Mac's Specs
17" Macbook Pro Unibody OS X SL
((MOVED THREAD TO SOFTWARE DISCUSSION))

Running:
Macbook Pro 15" Intel Core2 Duo 2.2GHz
4 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Leopard OS X 10.5.4

I don't know what in the world is going on, but starting about a week ago, my Mac started exhibiting very bad problems:

-Programs would freeze for minutes at a time, most of the time ending up crashing completely
-Firefox loads web pages at about 3 kb/s download speed, most of the time just timing out
-Almost all programs load abysmally slow
-Using Dashboard or Spaces makes the OS crash, requiring a restart
-The whole OS seems unstable

Needless to say, the alarm bells stated going off when I found myself saying "If only Leopard would be as stable as Vista" as I used bootcamp to switch to Vista.

I've used PC's with Windows for years so I know what it looks like when a computer is infected with a virus, and Leopard doing this makes me very concerned that there may be some sort of virus dwelling in the system. Yes, I said it, horrible as that may sound, that's how it seems. I hope to god that I am wrong and just have something trivial going on.

If that is the case, Someone please tell me how to fix this! I'm desperate for a solution!


(Programs that crashed while trying to post this message)
-Firefox (4 times just trying to get into this forum)
-Safari (3 times, tried using as an alternative to Firefox to get to the forums)
-MSN messenger (2 times)
-iTunes (2 times)
-System Preferences (Didn't know it could crash, but it is still sitting there bouncing up and down like it is trying to load)
-Mail (2 times)

HELP!!!! *begs*
 
OP
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Quick addition to the info, I have repaired permissions and repaired the startup volume. Did not fix any of the problems. I am now posting off of Vista because Leopard is so unstable.
 
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A drastic change in performance can sometimes be attributed to a recent change made to the system. Did you install any new software or download recent system updates?

If not:

Have you run a hardware check? It sounds like it could be a memory (RAM) problem, or perhaps a HDD going south.
 

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