Whenever XP reads a file, it stamps the file with the date and time of the access. You can turn this feature off in order to improve the performance of your XP.
The timestamp feature has its place, but is not required for normal use unless you rely on the date of last access for backup purposes, which is a rare requirement for most backups. Putting a timestamp on a file that has just been read means that a write access has to be made to the disk, so every time a read is executed, a corresponding write is also executed.
At the command prompt, enter the following, and then reboot:
FSUTIL behavior set disablelastaccess 1
To turn the timestamps back on, repeat the command, but replace the 1 with 0.