Yeah...I've had similar problems - but related to the network. It seems to use ALL of my upload. Like - 450kb/s for uploading. And I cannot figure out why....or how to throttle it.
I actually never checked my D / U consumption... Doesn't really matter really if I'm not downloading other stuff at the same time. But the problem is not that anyway, my D / U speed is always the same, yet downloading the last few thousand blocks took three times more time and three times more disk space than the hundred thousand that came before them. Some kind of exponential inneficiency programmed into the code as far as I can see...
Btw, if you need to limit your upload to stop it from suffocateing your download (because although in theory upload and download bands are separate frequency bands in DSL, in practice a fully used upload will decrease download speed) use NetLimiter (very usefull with P2P sharing or torrent applications, if you use that kind of stuff).
As far as why your download was taking a long time, make sure to use the newly released version of the Bitcoin client, v0.3.23. If has improvements specifically to help with the problem you are describing:
If I reinstall the program, will the old databases still work (provided I relocate them manually during reinstall and return them later) or will I have to download all the blocks again ?
Because I'm sure as hell not going through another 15 hours of listening to maddening hard-drive scraping, that almost made my brain boil ! The strange thing is, it seemed my ancient processor wasn't the bottleneck (it was only partially used), it was the HD (it worked insanely much), and seeing as HDs haven't increased in speed significantly (not like CPUs anyway) I'm wondering if everyone has a similar experience...
Btw someone should add an auto-update option to that program. Like on startup it checks for newer versions and if it finds any it offers you to click to download and install the newest version.
There's one thing I don't understand about wallets and trasnfers. Does a wallet have to be "online" (that is the client related to that wallet being connected to the bitcoin network) to receive money or is money available to the recipient wallet indefinitely after being sent thanks to the network ?
For example, if you send BTC from one wallet to another which is encrypted and safely stored somewhere, or you send BTC from a web-wallet account to your wallet on your HD, and let's say you let the payments accumulate for months, if you open your safely stored and encrypted wallet one day, will it all suddenly be there ?
Also, how is it possible that you can't spend upwards of 50mb of space? Worst case, just run it off of a USB.
The program ran for 15 hours before it finished updateing the blocks and finally took up 400 MB of space on my C: drive, which leaves me with a little more than 1 GB of space on my C: drive. Now I could increase the C: drive by taking free space from D: (which I've done twice before) but that would require a backup first (as the repartitiong process is risky) and I don't want to bother with all that now. Anyway I wish it gave some info on it's space requirements and allowed you to set the path for the database files.