Slow Windows 7 gets really annoying. Can I do something except hardware upgrade?

Please note that I currently have 8GB RAM installed and do not really experience any problems because of hardware. I also use licenced AVG antivirus so I'm pretty sute that the cause of poor performance is not malware. I use this copy of Windows 7 for 2 years already, I have lots of usefull programs installed,... show more Please note that I currently have 8GB RAM installed and do not really experience any problems because of hardware. I also use licenced AVG antivirus so I'm pretty sute that the cause of poor performance is not malware. I use this copy of Windows 7 for 2 years already, I have lots of usefull programs installed, numerous files that I do not want to lose, tons of passwords remembered automatically that I don't have an opportunity to recover now...

The main sympthoms are: exstreeemly slow startup and shut down (5-7min), chrome/firefox tabs are opening slow although the internet speed is ok, sometimes I experience freezes when watching high quality videos or try to open several programs at the same time (for example chrome, photoshop and Windows Media player)
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