Troubleshooting Windows XP Shutdown

 Shutdown problems continue to be one of the primary issues haunting users. A number of solutions have been found for different scenarios, but one thing that is generally agreed on is the primary cause for most shutdown ills still relate to hardware and software compatibility and driver issues. If everyone was running the latest and greatest in hardware and software there would likely be very little discussion about shutdown problems. That isn’t the case now and likely won’t be in the near future, so I think it’s time to update and see what has been learned about shutdown issues. The Role of the F5 Key and Shutdown Problems When I first put this page together I meant to include this information. Unfortunately it totally slipped my mind. One of the hazards of being an Elder(ly) Geek, but better late than never. Thanks to reader Glen M. for jogging my memory. When XP is first installed it tries to determine what type of BIOS is available on the computer. Newer systems have what is known as Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) capability. Unfortunately, XP doesn’t always recognize a computer BIOS is ACPI capable and doesn’t install the support for ACPI. Even more unfortunate is the fact that if ACPI support isn’t determined at the initial install it’s virtually impossible to correct this at a later time short of reinstalling XP over the top of the previous XP installation. To do so requires changing the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL). The chances of successfully changing a HAL after XP has been installed is pretty close to zilch. Quite a few readers have written to say my “pretty close to zilch” comment above is incorrect; that the HAL can be successfully changed and manipulated. Perhaps this is true, if you’re a gambler. I’m not. Here are three links that may help you make an informed decision. HAL Options After Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 Setup How to Force a Hardware Abstraction Layer During an Upgrade or New Installation of Windows XP and one more with some salient points even if running XP How to Troubleshoot Windows 2000 Hardware Abstraction Layer Issues Once you drop the CD in the tray and fire up the computer to install XP, the first thing you’ll see at the bottom of the screen is the option to press F6 if you need to install a SCSI or RAID controller. Don’t press F6. Press F5 instead. This will take you to a separate menu of Hardware Abstraction Layer’s where you can choose an appropriate HAL that supports ACPI. The choices will be: ACPI Multiprocessor PC ACPI Uniprocessor PC Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) PC Compaq SystemPro Multiprocessor or 100% Compatible PC MPS Uniprocessor PC MPS Multiprocessor PC Standard PC Standard PC with C-Step i486 Other Many users have written to say the only visible options they have are the last two listed above. This is an interface glitch that defaults the list to the bottom. Just use the up and down arrows to scroll through all the options. In the majority of installations the ‘Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) PC’ HAL is the one you will want to use. A few cautions are also in order: Obtain and install the latest BIOS for your motherboard before you begin the XP installation. Equally as important as using the proper HAL on ACPI capable systems, is NOT using it on systems that are not ACPI compatible. The install may complete but the system will almost surely fail to start when it reboots. There are situations where it is definitely not desirable to use an ACPI HAL even if it is supported by the BIOS. This predominately applies to servers, but to ensure that an ACPI HAL will not be used or automatically detected and used, press F7 instead of F5 as discussed previously. Considering the number of problems that users have with systems not shutting down completely I wonder why this feature is not prominently mentioned and documented. It could save many headaches, but now you know. A good piece of knowledge to have tucked away for your next XP install. As a final note, to determine if your computer was detected as being ACPI enabled: Right click My Computer then click Properties > Hardware > Device Manager. Expand the entry called Computer. If the entry is ‘Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) PC’ you’re all set. If it says ‘Standard PC’ the computer BIOS was not detected as being ACPI capable. “It’s Now Safe To Turn Off Your Computer” If the message above is the shutdown issue, stop right here. You really don’t have a problem with shutdown. While it may not seem like it, shutdown has completed properly. The problem you have is with powering down or powering off the computer. Semantics, you say? Maybe, but almost without fail this can be solved as follows. If you haven’t checked for an updated BIOS, that’s the first step, then check the items listed below. Click [Start] [Control Panel] [Performance and Maintenance] [Power Options] The Power Options Properties Property Sheet will open. Click the APM tab and check the box to [Enable Advanced Power Management Support] Power Down Automatically After Shutdown I Select the APM tab and check/uncheck [Enable Advanced Power Management Support]. It should be noted that some users have solved the shutdown problems via enabling while others have achieved success via disabling. Experimentation with the APM and ACPI settings may provide a solution. Power Down Automatically After Shutdown II CAUTION 03/27/2003 – In the last two days I’ve received e-mail from two different readers stating that when this method has been used they have been unable to boot their system; not even in safe mode. The system starts to boot, displaying the first lines and then shuts down. I’m trying to pinpoint what is causing this behavior, but to this point it remains a mystery. In all fairness, these two reports have been the only problems I’ve heard about with this procedure in the twelve months it has been posted. Until this issue is resolved, use at your own risk. If the procedure above didn’t solve the problem, check the registry setting shown below. Start Regedit and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon Set the value of PowerDownAfterShutdown to 1. If the value isn’t present, add it by creating the string value PowerDownAfterShutdown and setting the value to 1. Note: The success of this registry edit is dependent on Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) support. Two Valuable Items for Dealing with Shutdown Issues Device Manager: Often times Device Manager will provide a clue to an item that may be interfering with a proper shutdown sequence. To open Device Manager: Right click [My Computer] click [Properties] and select [Hardware] tab. Click the [Device Manager] button in the [Device Manager] section. Device Manager use a number of different symbols to indicate potential problems with installed devices. As you might expect, Device Manager is closely tied into the drivers that are used to make individual devices functional. A problem with one of these devices or a driver supporting it are often the cause of shutdown problems. Don’t assume that just because you checked Device Manager once and all was well that matters will remain that way. Check it from time to time, especially if you notice a sudden change in device behavior. The Knowledge Base articles below will help you use Device Manager effectively. How To: Manage Devices in Windows XP Troubleshooting Device Conflicts with Device Manager Explanation of Error Codes Generated by Device Manager How to Troubleshoot Unknown Devices Listed in Device Manager Startup and Recovery Options: By default, XP is configured that when a system failure is encountered the system automatically restarts. This behavior may at times be desirable, especially if a system is unattended and and a reboot is necessary to restore a system to operation. Unfortunately, it also makes it very difficult if not impossible for a user to read the messages that are presented that may provide clues to a shutdown problem. To prevent the system from automatically restarting: Right click [My Computer] click [Properties] and select [Advanced] tab. Click the [Settings] button in the [Startup and Recovery] section. Remove the checkmark from [Automatically Restart] in [System Failure] section. Pay particular attention to these messages as they may provide valuable clues to shutdown issues. Issues relating to shutdown seem to fall into certain broad categories. It would be impossible to list every piece of hardware and software which have been identified as causing a problem, but a search through some of the major search engines, newsgroups, forums, and manufacturer sites will often provide a specific solution. Read through the items mentioned below and see if any of the situations apply to your system or configurations symptoms. Restart Instead of Shutdown and STOP Error Messages I touched on this briefly in the Startup and Recovery Options section above. As Microsoft mentions in the article referenced below, “When you shut down your Windows XP-based computer, your computer may restart instead of shutting down, and you may see a blue screen for just a moment before the computer restarts.” Windows XP Restarts When You Try to Shut Down Your Computer Their reference to the Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) and the STOP error messages that are displayed is why I suggested you disable the automatic restarts. As cryptic as these messages can be, they do provide a place to begin looking for issues impacting shutdown. To make it a bit easier, I’ve listed the STOP messages in the table below. A detailed description of each error message is here. Stop 0x0000000A or IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL Stop 0x0000001E or KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED Stop 0x00000024 or NTFS_FILE_SYSTEM Stop 0x0000002E or DATA_BUS_ERROR Stop 0x0000003F or NO_MORE_SYSTEM_PTES Stop 0x00000050 or PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA Stop 0x00000077 or KERNEL_STACK_INPAGE_ERROR Stop 0x00000079 or MISMATCHED_HAL Stop 0x0000007A or KERNEL_DATA_INPAGE_ERROR Stop 0x0000007B or INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE Stop 0x0000007F or UNEXPECTED_KERNEL_MODE_TRAP Stop 0x0000009F or DRIVER_POWER_STATE_FAILURE Stop 0xBE or ATTEMPTED_WRITE_TO_READONLY_MEMORY Stop 0xC2 or BAD_POOL_CALLER Stop 0x000000CE or DRIVER_UNLOADED_WITHOUT_CANCELLING_PENDING_OPERATIONS Stop 0x000000D1 or DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL Stop 0x000000D8 or DRIVER_USED_EXCESSIVE_PTES Stop 0x000000EA or THREAD_STUCK_IN_DEVICE_DRIVER Stop 0x000000ED or UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME Stop 0x000000F2 or HARDWARE_INTERRUPT_STORM Stop 0xC000021A or STATUS_SYSTEM_PROCESS_TERMINATED Stop 0xC0000221 or STATUS_IMAGE_CHECKSUM_MISMATCH The majority of Win XP shutdown problems reported thus far have been that it reboots when shutdown is attempted. This may be a global symptom emerging from several distinct causes, because, by default, XP executes an automatic restart in the event of a system failure. Therefore, more or less anything compromising the operating system during the shutdown process could force this reboot. Disabling the restart on system failure feature may permit the exact cause to be isolated: Right-click on My Computer, click Properties, click the Advanced tab. Under Startup & Recovery, click Settings. Under System Failure, uncheck the box in front of System reboot. Shutdown Does Not Complete or Hangs Everyone that has used Windows XP has spent some time looking at the screen that says “Saving Your Settings” – waiting for it to finally decide that it’s saved everything it can and move on to shutting down the system. I’m not sure if it’s by design or considered a ‘feature’ of XP, but the closer it is to quitting time the longer it takes this transition to occur. As an added benefit, when XP does ‘hang’ at this point in shutdown there is no response to the Ctrl+Alt+Del sequence so the user is effectively stuck. My guess is that a Microsoft employee eager to get out on a Friday afternoon finally decided to address this issue, but that’s just speculation. Whatever the reason, this is a known issue with XP Home and Professional and has been addressed by Microsoft. Windows XP Stops Responding (Hangs) During Windows Shutdown Q307274 How long does it take for shutdown to begin, or at least give some visible sign the system is shutting down? This varies, and often times seem to be in direct relation to software that is left running when shutdown is attempted. The safest thing you can do is to make sure all programs have been closed before shutting down. This alone may solve your problem. Don’t overlook programs running in the system tray. It’s easy to forget these are running as we become so accustomed to seeing their icons on a daily basis. As a general rule, if you don’t see some visible shutdown activity within 1-2 minutes of initiation, something is holding up the process. One readily identifiable sign that some application or process is not terminating properly is the appearance of the “Wait, End Task, or Cancel” dialog box. The program or process listed needs to be examined as to why it isn’t terminating properly. Often times a visit to a company website will provide an update to address the issue. Windows XP uses many processes that are built into the operating system that interact with outside vendor supplied programs. These interactions don’t always flow as smoothly or quickly as planned and can account for shutdown delays. Extending the amount of time a process is allowed to close before invoking the “Wait, End Task, or Cancel” dialog box can sometimes be of benefit. To get a better understanding of what this involves as well as why not to overdo the time extension, the following article may be of value. Increase Shutdown Time So That Processes Can Quit Properly in Windows XP: Q305788 These additional articles may lead to a solution: Computer Hangs During Shutdown or Displays a “Cannot Find Enough Free Resources” Error Message Your Computer May Stop Responding When You Shut Down and Use Only the 802.1x Protocol for User Authentication Hardware and Software Issues Truthfully, it’s very difficult to separate shutdown issues into tidy compartmentalized groups, even categories that are as broad as I’ve defined for this article. Some of the issues from the Hangs section above fit into this group just as easily. However, there is no doubt that Hardware and Software Issues can be a major factor. When talking about hardware, think for just a minute about all the bits and pieces that go into making up your system. At the heart of the system is the motherboard. The BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) might need to be updated to function properly with XP. A check with the computer or motherboard manufacturer for an updated BIOS is well worth the time. I will add though that my viewpoint toward BIOS updates is “If it ain’t broke, don’t update it.” That doesn’t hold true however for BIOS settings. Making sure the settings are optimized and appropriate for installed devices can eliminate problems. Just be sure to note the old settings before making changes. Video cards are another source of problems. When XP was first released it shipped with more device drivers than any previous Windows version. In spite of that, the offerings barely scratched the surface for supporting devices already in use by end users. Device drivers fall into two categories; signed and unsigned. With signed drivers, you stand a much better chance of eliminating shutdown problems. Unsigned drivers are far more likely to create problems, and if a device doesn’t have a signed driver available this long after XP’s release it’s likely it’s not going to have one issued by the device manufacturer. Mixing signed and unsigned drivers is just asking for trouble. Go for all or nothing and if that isn’t possible, consider replacing the device. This seems like a good place to talk about compatibility. Microsoft has made available two sites where you can check hardware and software compatibility. The hardware list is a good place to check existing hardware or future hardware purchases for compatibility. The Windows Catalog requires you to wade through some hype, but there is some useful info available regarding different software packages. Microsoft Windows Hardware Compatibility List Windows Catalog Sound cards are notorious for causing shutdown problems. Because these devices load so many drivers and stick them in a myriad of locations, trouble shooting them can be a nightmare. Using the uninstall routines and then checking to see if the shutdown problem disappears is the easiest method. Many of the motherboards now come with onboard sound and these seem to be relatively trouble free, but legacy soundcards continue to be a nightmare. Anytime you are dealing with new hardware or software, using System Restore can provide you with a way to turn the system back to a previous condition where the problem didn’t exist. More information on System Restore is available here. In short, any piece of hardware or software can be the cause of a shutdown problem. In dealing with these issues over the past few months, experience has taught me to check the drivers first. If XP didn’t come with a generic driver, perhaps the manufacturer has released a driver specifically for XP. As much trouble as it is, stripping the machine of all devices and reinstalling them one by one while checking for shutdown problems remains the best troubleshooting method. ——————————————————————————– Miscellaneous Problems/Solutions The items listed below are miscellaneous reports of issues that have caused shutdown problems. Perhaps one of them will be of value in troubleshooting your shutdown issue. Feel free to send along your experiences and I’ll post them here. ——————————————————————————– Windows XP Professional contains the Group Policy Editor which can be used to alter settings. One security option allows the page file to be cleared at system shutdown. When enabled, this same setting forces wiping of the hibernation file. Both of these processes can be lengthy, fooling the user into thinking shutdown has hung. To verify if this setting has been enabled (it has to be set manually), perform the steps listed. [Start] [Run] and type [gpedit.msc] then click [OK] Drill down to [Computer Configuration] [Windows Settings] [Security Settings] [Local Policies] [Security Options] Verify the proper setting in the right pane under [Shutdown: Clear Virtual Memory Pagefile] ——————————————————————————– One theory has linked the shutdown problems to the logon process. Some users have reported they solved the hanging problem at shutdown by eliminating the Welcome Screen that XP uses for logon. To eliminate the screen and revert to the legacy method of logon: [Control Panel] [User Accounts] [Change The Way Users Log On or Off] Remove the checkmark by [Use the Welcome Screen] All users will be required to type a username and password. ——————————————————————————– This was a problem I personally encountered using a Microsoft USB Office Keyboard. Once the box had booted and the logon screen loaded I could use the keyboard, but prior to that it was totally unavailable. It was impossible to make selections between operating systems in the boot menu, so if I wanted to load Windows 2000, I had to make the changes to the boot.ini file within XP and then shut down the entire system. Restart wasn’t possible either because the system would hang and never complete the restart. The solution was to get a USB adapter which allowed me to plug the keyboard into the standard mouse port (PS/2) rather than a USB connector. I know it’s not the right solution, but for now it works. ——————————————————————————– If you have a graphics card manufactured by Nvidia, stopping the Driver Helper service may solve the shutdown slowness. As more users have upgraded to XP a lot more reports of video problems have surfaced, not just related to Nvidia. Updated drivers are again the answer, or if they are unavailable a new video card designed for XP seems to be the answer. To access the services running on your machine, type [services.msc] from the [Run] box. ——————————————————————————– From Clark: I just got a new HP 5400c scanjet scanner last week. I installed the software and everything worked fine (XP Pro on HP9680c). I successfully loaded and tested the Fax service. However, I noticed that whenever, I log out, it takes forever (2 to 3 minutes) to logoff. I looked in the event log and noticed several messages indicating that the registry file was in use when trying to logoff and it appeared the PC was waiting for something to release it. I tried uninstalling the fax services. When I did, the logoff times went back to normal – 15 -30 seconds. ——————————————————————————– From Harry D. On 7/14 I did a pristine install of XP-Pro on a reformatted HD with “old” 98SE drives saved on other HD’s. In the process of reinstalling my old apps I quickly came on a shutdown problem; no matter how I snuck up on shut down I would end up restarting. After much wasted time I was directed by a subscriber to the WinHome list to the Logitech package I had installed for my tracker ball. I removed it and the problem stopped; the machine now goes through the appropriate shut down sequence and turns off. This may be old news on your page but I thought I would share it on the chance you hadn’t come across it. Thanks for your help. ——————————————————————————– From Darren: I have spent many hours on this and have established that Window Washer causes a shutdown problem. Each time Washer was installed the pc would not turn itself off with the “its now safe to turn your computer off” message appearing. Each time this happened I did a restore and each time Win XP returned to normal. Regards, Darren ——————————————————————————– From B: Thanks for putting up such a useful site. Have used it many times in an attempt to fix things that go wrong with XP during day to day use. Just thought I would drop a line mentioning one issue I was able to correct on an XP machine when I couldn’t find any help from the Net. It involved, oddly enough, XP not shutting down at all, the system would, at best, hibernate, not even a restart was possible. A little poking around with the task manager revealed that REGEDIT.EXE was starting with Windows and running continuously in the background, but I was unable to determine what process was spawning this action until using Norton System Works, which was installed on the system, to track down what originated the REGEDIT start. Turns out it was Norton itself, starting it up and not doing a thing with it. An update of System Works fixed this, fortunately, since ending the task (twice, since it cried being shutdown) was a bit much before shutting down the system each time. And God help you if you try to uninstall System Works. I tried that once and lived to tell the tale, but I would not recommend it unless you like wading through the registry to pull all the junk out. Anyway, kind of off you topic, but I thought this info might be useful to viewers of your site since you offer a help-like collection of tips and tricks. Keep up the great work. B


One comment on “Troubleshooting Windows XP Shutdown

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