Normally after a clean install Windows XP should run just as fast as when you first bought the system, but it can go sluggish again due to a few problems, here are a few I have found to cause XP to run slow -
1. When re-installing XP pro how did you re-install it? There are a few options here and some coud pose problems -
a. Via an original XP CD using the licence code printed under the machine - If you've gone down this route then there shouldn't be any problems with the re-installation, it doesn't matter whether the original XP CD actually came with the machine or not, as long as the version of XP matches the licence on the machine (i.e. Pro/Home 32/64 bit etc), if it doesn't you wouldn't be able to install 'cos you'd get an error message.
b. Via an original XP CD using a licence code found on the net or given to you by a friend - If you tried the above and found out that XP wouldn't take the licence code printed on your machine (or if your machine doesn't have a licence code!) you may have been tempted to find one from the net that works, or if you've got a friend that's into IT he might have one lying around, also if you asked an IT technician to re-install for you some cowboys may only have one flavour of XP (normally Pro as that's the easiest one to work round) and so will re-install and use their dodgy code rather than trying to track down a valid install disc for your particular flavour. Re-installing this way firstly is illegal, and secondly will cause you all sorts of problems, firstly you might get the "Windows Genuine Notification" up which warns you your using an illegal copy of XP, most people into IT can work round this one, if you do work round the genuine notification (or if you had it installed by some cowboy technician) you will find XP will run slowly and have all sorts of bugs in it, one explanation for this is that XP wont allow updates to be installed (thus leaving your system open to attack), however I have a strong suspicion that when working round the Genuine Notification program, you set Windows into a "Pirated" mode, many manufacturers do this to make you think you've got away with it, when really you haven't - it's mainly in computer games, but also some commercial software has it in as well.
c. via a downloaded xp cd, with licence codes from the internet or licence codes already installed - Using this method will result in the same problem as B. above, or worse you could have downloaded a CD containing a virus.
d. via recovery CD's created on the PC - If you used recovery CD's from your machine (if it's something like a HP/Fujitsu/Sony/etc, they don't normally give you XP CD's and just let you create your own). This is fine as long as you create your recovery CD's the minute you buy your computer and don't leave it until you get a problem such as a virus and then create them. The biggest problem with recovery CD's (and recovery partitions as well) is that if you don't create the CD's until you get a problem such as a virus (as is the normal case for most people) you run a huge risk. If the virus infects your computer, chances are it will also infect the recovery partition, and the data used to create the recovery CD's, thus if you then go and create your recovery CD's you burn the virus onto the recovery CD, re-install Windows and hey presto! re-install the virus - oops! This is why when you first buy a computer the first thing it does is keep popping up to tell you to create recovery discs (plus also the first thing in the instruction manual is to create the CD's), some manufacturers used to include the discs with the machine, like Dell, but I don't know why now they insist you create your own, surely a couple of pennies on a CD isn't going to break the bank to keep the customer safe and happy? Best solution with this one is to contact the manufacturer and explain to them what has happened and see if they can supply you with a new recovery CD, or failing that try and find a friend with a copy of Windows XP Professional that matches your licence and lend their disc (as long as they've not fallen into the same trap as well!)
e. via recovery partition - See d. above for reasons why there could be a problem.
Ok so you've checked through all those and your sure that's not the problem - there can be a few more software checks to do before moving on to hardware problems.
Firstly and most importantly after re-installing XP did you then go and update the machine fully or did you just start using it without running Windows Update. This includes updating/installing things like Flash player, Shockwave, Acrobat Reader, installing anti-virus software, installing firewall software, etc.
If you did the updates and installed some things like flash/shockwave/acrobat and then found the problem this could be the culprit. One big problem I've found with things like Flash/Shockwave/Acrobat and some Google products as well is that when you re-install these on your system there is normally a tick box that is ticked and a lot of people overlook this or just keep it ticked 'cos it relates to security. I'm talking about the tick box that offers you a "Free" version of McAfee or Norton. This is alright if you don't already have an anti-virus program installed already, but if you do then this can cause all sorts of problems. This includes if you've used a recovery CD, the recovery CD probably threw in the "free trial anti-virus" that came with you PC originally (normally either Norton or McAfee). The biggest problem with the freebies that Adobe and Google tend to offer you is that they don't bother to check whether there is an anti-virus there already. I've fixed a few computers where the main problem has been that they've had Norton on a free trial, they've installed Flash and Acrobat and Google and been given McAfee as part of the pack, and some have even then gone on and put the anti-virus on top of that that the ISP give them (and even ignored the message from that anti-virus warning them they've already got an anti-virus). So just have a check to see how many anti-virus programs you are running and if your running more than one your running too many and you could see major issues - names to look for are F-Secure, ESET, Norton, McAfee, AVG, Avast, Trend, Kaspersky, etc
After running out of options with software your next thing to check is your hardware. Firstly make sure that your PC is being kept cool enough, have you got enough fans in your system to keep it cool, at minimum you should have one for air in, and one for air out, air in is normally on the side, and air out at the back, also make sure the fans are turned the right way so the air in fan is sucking and the air out fan is blowing (the fins are angled and if they are the wrong way just unscrew the fan, flip it over and screw it back in). Also very important make sure the fan on your CPU is spinning as this is very important if this isn't spinning properly then you might need to replace it. The main thing you will notice with this though is that the computer will just randomly reset when it hits a certain temperature, it will start to go slow as the heat increases, and possibly even see white specks on the screen (referred to as "snow", it's the GPU overheating that causes that). It will also get worse depending on how your using your PC, just general web browsing should be fine but play a 3D game on it or do some 3D rendering and it will really start to push the heat up.
If you've exhausted all your options above and still not found a problem, then it's most likely going to be down to some hardware fault. At this stage your only option is to try and remove bits of hardware and see if it makes a difference, start with the memory as that'll be the easiest. I presume as you have 2Gb of memory you have 2x1Gb sticks? I also presume either they were supplied with the system or they are speed matched - very important with memory there are numerous speeds out there and to get the best performance you need to match the speed of the memory otherwise you can cause various issues. To test the memory, take one of the sticks out, boot it up and see if the speed increases, if not, turn off the pc and try swapping the sticks, try again, still no improvement - well you can assume the memory is fine.
Next thing to check is the motherboard, the main thing that goes on the motherboard is the capacitors. The capacitors are big circular components that stick up, normally have some kind of voltage printed down the side, look like little water towers - but believe me these ain't no water towers - especially if you touch the wrong end of these things!). A capacitor works in a very similar method to a battery, but stores power for a lot shorter time scale than a battery and can store a lot more as well, many PC's ones don't store much, but some of the old CRT TV capacitors can store enough amps to kill. Look at the tops of the capacitors, if they all look fine then they probably are fine, but if you have any that have either a bulge on top (they should be flat on top), or in some cases appear to be rusty these capacitors have blown. Only solution then is to buy a new motherboard, or get some good electrician to unsolder them and replace them, my dad's a TV engineer and he's done it a few times for me as it only costs pennies for capacitors, but it's just knowing someone who is good with a soldering iron that can do it!
After that you then need to start looking at all the other components which can then start to get really tricky as you need to swap each component, and you need components to swap it with.