Poor Performance, startup, and slow everything...

I have been noticing lately that my MBP is really under performing. Here are my specs:
-2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
-2 GB Ram
-44 GB of HD space
I recently got a new iMac at work it is really great. Speedy and everything so now it makes me see how poorly my computer is performing. I know that it is capable of being really fast but I just don't know what I can do to make it faster. I have repaired disk permissions but that does basically nothing.
Thanks for any help!

Kappy's Personal Suggestions for OS X Maintenance
For disk repairs use Disk Utility. For situations DU cannot handle the best third-party utilities are: Disk Warrior; DW only fixes problems with the disk directory, but most disk problems are caused by directory corruption; Disk Warrior 4.x is now Intel Mac compatible. TechTool Pro provides additional repair options including file repair and recovery, system diagnostics, and disk defragmentation. TechTool Pro 4.5.1 or higher are Intel Mac compatible; Drive Genius is similar to TechTool Pro in terms of the various repair services provided. Versions 1.5.1 or later are Intel Mac compatible.
OS X performs certain maintenance functions that are scheduled to occur on a daily, weekly, or monthly period. The maintenance scripts run in the early AM only if the computer is turned on 24/7 (no sleep.) If this isn't the case, then an excellent solution is to download and install a shareware utility such as Macaroni, JAW PseudoAnacron, or Anacron that will automate the maintenance activity regardless of whether the computer is turned off or asleep. Dependence upon third-party utilities to run the periodic maintenance scripts had been significantly reduced in Tiger and Leopard.
OS X automatically defrags files less than 20 MBs in size, so unless you have a disk full of very large files there's little need for defragmenting the hard drive. As for virus protection there are few if any such animals affecting OS X. You can protect the computer easily using the freeware Open Source virus protection software ClamXAV. Personally I would avoid most commercial anti-virus software because of their potential for causing problems.
I would also recommend downloading the shareware utility TinkerTool System that you can use for periodic maintenance such as removing old logfiles and archives, clearing caches, etc.
For emergency repairs install the freeware utility Applejack. If you cannot start up in OS X, you may be able to start in single-user mode from which you can run Applejack to do a whole set of repair and maintenance routines from the commandline. Note that AppleJack 1.5 is required for Leopard.
When you install any new system software or updates be sure to repair the hard drive and permissions beforehand. I also recommend booting into safe mode before doing system software updates.
Get an external Firewire drive at least equal in size to the internal hard drive and make (and maintain) a bootable clone/backup. You can make a bootable clone using the Restore option of Disk Utility. You can also make and maintain clones with good backup software. My personal recommendations are (order is not significant):
1. Retrospect Desktop (Commercial - not yet universal binary)
2. Synchronize! Pro X (Commercial)
3. Synk (Backup, Standard, or Pro)
4. Deja Vu (Shareware)
5. Carbon Copy Cloner (Donationware)
6. SuperDuper! (Commercial)
7. Intego Personal Backup (Commercial)
8. Data Backup (Commercial)
The following utilities can also be used for backup, but cannot create bootable clones:
1. Backup (requires a .Mac account with Apple both to get the software and to use it.)
2. Toast
3. Impression
4. arRSync
Apple's Backup is a full backup tool capable of also backing up across multiple media such as CD/DVD. However, it cannot create bootable backups. It is primarily an "archiving" utility as are the other two.
Impression and Toast are disk image based backups, only. Particularly useful if you need to backup to CD/DVD across multiple media.
Visit The XLab FAQs and read the FAQs on maintenance, optimization, virus protection, and backup and restore.
Additional suggestions will be found in Mac Maintenance Quick Assist.
Referenced software can be found at www.versiontracker.com and www.macupdate.com.
Add more RAM. Be careful about comparing to other non-similar hardware. The iMac may be newer, have faster processor, more RAM, etc. Also, "seems faster" is no substitute for benchmarks.

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    Apple called last fall and said my particular Mac had a hard disk problem and they replaced it at the Apple store in late January 2013.  I backed up the information on an external harddrive and used Time Machine before to transfer all the information to the new drive. Everything worked well and I finally put on Mountain Lion at 10.8.4.  I also have Carbonite as a backup and it apparently was not enabled when I transferred the files until early May.  In early May I had not used my iMac for about a month and when I started it I found about 40 named file folders on the Desktop that were empty.  Some of those had named items in them but when I clicked on them they would dissappear.  The actual files did exist and were not effected when I dumped the apparent alias folders. Safari started and would be ok at first but if I went away for an hour it would slow down.  I took it in to the Genius Bar at Apple and they ran some tests and got rid of MacKeeper which they felt was causing the problem.  I got my Mac back home and it still started slow but worked well at first and then started going slow.  If I opened Word it would also start working at a slower speed.  I needed to force quit Safari and the Word progran in order to quit or restart the Mac.  I got an appointment for the next day and they ran all sorts of tests and the hard drive was working normally. They tried tweeking different areas and sent me home again.  When I started working again it did the same thing, I would start out fine and eventually slow down and needed to be force quit to get out of it. A message came up indicating my MasOSX startup disk had no more space available for applications memory.  I took it in a third time and the Genius went to the Activity Monitor and the Safari PID was 221 and %CPU 107, Threads 21 Real Mem 2.73 GB, Virtual Mem 22.00 Kind, Intel (64).  I had no idea what that meant. I went home again and it still ran slow and couldn't run the programs for any length of time before it ran slow and affected the other programs so they would only quit if I used Force quit.  I took it in for the forth time an they decided to keep it overnight. They ran ASD first to rule out memory.  They noticed during the appointment the computer was slow to perform normal tasks such as showing boot options, booting into user, bootingto external user.  If the ASD passed then they would perform erase and install and only restore users and application files from backup drive.  They did this on Wed and Thur. night and I took it home Friday night, June 14 and it still has the same problem. Typing this message right now means typing and waiting for the words to appear.

    Please read this whole message before doing anything.
    This procedure is a diagnostic test. It won’t solve your problem. Don’t be disappointed when you find that nothing has changed after you complete it.
    Third-party system modifications are a common cause of usability problems. By a “system modification,” I mean software that affects the operation of other software — potentially for the worse. The following procedure will help identify which such modifications you've installed. Don’t be alarmed by the complexity of these instructions — they’re easy to carry out and won’t change anything on your Mac. 
    These steps are to be taken while booted in “normal” mode, not in safe mode. If you’re now running in safe mode, reboot as usual before continuing. 
    Below are instructions to enter some UNIX shell commands. The commands are harmless, but they must be entered exactly as given in order to work. If you have doubts about the safety of the procedure suggested here, search this site for other discussions in which it’s been followed without any report of ill effects. 
    Some of the commands will line-wrap or scroll in your browser, but each one is really just a single line, all of which must be selected. You can accomplish this easily by triple-clicking anywhere in the line. The whole line will highlight, and you can then copy it. The headings “Step 1” and so on are not part of the commands. 
    Note: If you have more than one user account, Step 2 must be taken as an administrator. Ordinarily that would be the user created automatically when you booted the system for the first time. The other steps should be taken as the user who has the problem, if different. Most personal Macs have only one user, and in that case this paragraph doesn’t apply. 
    Launch the Terminal application in any of the following ways: 
    ☞ Enter the first few letters of its name into a Spotlight search. Select it in the results (it should be at the top.) 
    ☞ In the Finder, select Go ▹ Utilities from the menu bar, or press the key combination shift-command-U. The application is in the folder that opens. 
    ☞ Open LaunchPad. Click Utilities, then Terminal in the icon grid. 
    When you launch Terminal, a text window will open with a line already in it, ending either in a dollar sign (“$”) or a percent sign (“%”). If you get the percent sign, enter “sh” and press return. You should then get a new line ending in a dollar sign. 
    Step 1 
    Triple-click the line of text below to select it:
    kextstat -kl | awk '!/com\.apple/{printf "%s %s\n", $6, $7}' | open -f -a TextEdit 
    Copy the selected text to the Clipboard by pressing the key combination command-C. Then click anywhere in the Terminal window and paste (command-V). A TextEdit window will open. Post the contents of that window, if any — the text, please, not a screenshot. You can then close the TextEdit window. The title of the window doesn't matter, and you don't need to post that. No typing is involved in this step.
    Step 2 
    Repeat with this line:
    { sudo launchctl list | sed 1d | awk '!/0x|com\.(apple|openssh|vix)|org\.(amav|apac|cups|isc|ntp|postf|x)/{print $3}'; sudo defaults read com.apple.loginwindow LoginHook; } | open -f -a TextEdit 
    This time you'll be prompted for your login password, which you do have to type. Nothing will be displayed when you type it. Type it carefully and then press return. You may get a one-time warning to be careful. Heed that warning, but don't post it. If you see a message that your username "is not in the sudoers file," then you're not logged in as an administrator. 
    Note: If you don’t have a login password, you’ll need to set one before taking this step. If that’s not possible, skip to the next step. 
    Step 3
    launchctl list | sed 1d | awk '!/0x|com\.apple|org\.(x|openbsd)/{print $3}' | open -f -a TextEdit 
    Step 4
    ls -1A /e*/mach* {,/}L*/{Ad,Compon,Ex,Fram,In,Keyb,La,Mail/Bu,P*P,Priv,Qu,Scripti,Servi,Spo,Sta}* L*/Fonts 2> /dev/null | open -f -a TextEdit  
    Important: If you formerly synchronized with a MobileMe account, your me.com email address may appear in the output of the above command. If so, anonymize it before posting. 
    Step 5
    osascript -e 'tell application "System Events" to get name of every login item' | open -f -a TextEdit 
    Remember, steps 1-5 are all copy-and-paste — no typing, except your password. Also remember to post the output. 
    You can then quit Terminal.

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