Windows XP Home: Turn Off hangs.
October 12, 2006 2:24 AM   Subscribe

How do I get Windows XP Home to shut down properly? I'ts hanging and I have to power cycle.

I'm a fairly computer literate person (Unix admin/proggie.) I hate windows of course. I'm not sure of where to find what's hanging my system during shutdown/"turn off" (XP Home.) I have to push the power button to kill it.

Nothing stands out in eventvwr; I power it off manually so it doesn't have a chance to report problems w/apps hanging I guess... Somehow I suspect MS's recent IE 'fix' is farking it up although I've been using FireFox for a while now.

Please let me know steps you'd take to try to discern what could hang shut down and how to fix it, please.

Thanks muchly :)
posted by prodevel to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've seen USB devices causing that issue, caused indirectly by outdated motherboard firmware. Try disconnecting all USB gizmos right after initiating a shutdown and see if it helps. Ideally, hook up a PS/2 mouse/keyboard and run a full startup/shutdown cycle with no USB devices attached at all.

If it works properly, check to make sure your motherboard's BIOS is the most recent available, and update your motherboard drivers. Folks very often forget those... soundcard and video card drivers they're used to, but they often don't even know they HAVE motherboard drivers.
posted by Malor at 2:47 AM on October 12, 2006

Sometimes a process won't end when shutting down. I've had a similar issue with McAfee Anti-Virus. Usually a window will pop up allowing you to "end now", but not always. You either open Task Manager (Processes tab) or use the freeware Process Explorer. Before you shut down, open either one and sort by CPU. Often when a process hangs it will consume all of the CPU.

Along the same line, look what's running in your system tray and try closing everything before you shutdown to see if that points you in the right direction. It seems like every Windows program you install wants to load at startup and sit in your system tray using up resources.

I doubt it has anything to do with IE if you're using Firefox. I'm not aware of any components of IE that load if you don't even open the app.

I'm not that familiar with XP Home Edition, but with XP Pro and Windows Server the hanging issue can be profile related. This is the primary reason I don't use roaming profiles at work anymore. Eventually they become corrupted and your session hangs at logoff\shutdown. The same thing happens with Terminal Services profiles and Citrix. Occasionally you simply have to delete or rename someone's profile and then they're fine once they log in and get a new profile. To test this, try adding a new user to your system (Control Panel - User Accounts) and then shut down as that user. You can try installing Microsoft's User Profile Hive Cleanup which assists in closing processes during logoff.

And like Malor said, it could definitely be hardware. I always try to rule out software first because troubleshooting strange hardware issues can be such a bitch.
posted by bda1972 at 3:37 AM on October 12, 2006

First of all, I would try bda1972's suggestion of the User Profile Hive cleanup fix. That seems to be a common cause of hanging on shutdown.

If not (and assuming it is not a hardware issue), the problem is probably not with Windows itself, but with a 3rd party program running in the background.

Use msconfig (Start->Run, "msconfig"), and try disabling all the programs that run on startup. Also all unnecessary 3rd party services.

See if it works then. If it does, then begin re-enabling services, a few at a time, reboot and test does that make a difference. Then try re-enabling startup programs, again a few at a time, and test whether it affects rebooting.
posted by Boobus Tuber at 4:41 AM on October 12, 2006

I had a similar problem recently, try disabling windows update and see if that does the trick. If that resolves the issue you could just use autopatcher for your updates instead.

FWIW There were a couple of recent MS updates that screwed over the win installation on my old net machine to the point of being unusable - i narrowed it down to something in one of the updates not agreeing with the aging hardware. Good job ubuntu's not so fussy =)
posted by chrissyboy at 5:35 AM on October 12, 2006

UPHClean isn't going to do anything for you. It doesn't "assist logoffs" as others suggested. It's a service that scans for loaded hives and if the user isn't logged in, it unloads the hive. Since the service should be shutdown before that happens, it won't help.

How long does it hang for? Have you let it sit for a while just to see what happens? That'll go a long way to helping you determine if it's software or hardware. Hardware will keep the box hung, software will sometimes allow it to eventually shutdown. Let it sit for a half hour when you shutdown, I've had machines that have taken that long (before I fixed it, of course :)

As BDA mentioned, there could be a problem with your profile (although in the last 8 years of administering Citrix boxes, I've rarely seen the problems he's encountered with roaming profiles). Easiest way to tell is to create a new account on the box and see what happens when that new account shutsdown the machine. Not sure where it is in Home, but there should be a User Account thingy in the Control Panel.

Knowing the answers to these two questions should get us about 90% closer to solving the problem. Oh, and one more: at what point does it hang? Can you still see your desktop or what?
posted by Spoonman at 6:22 AM on October 12, 2006

As chirssyboy alluded to, can you not just install a different operating system? That way you’ll get rid of Windows (which you hate, of course) and an IE patch you suspect of crashing your machine will not longer be applicable.
posted by ed\26h at 6:43 AM on October 12, 2006

Had to deal with this on a user's computer (XP Pro) at work just yesterday. Found this handy regfile that seems to have worked. It clears the pagefile, ends tasks, and shortens the amount of time to perform those both of those functions significantly. (Above link goes directly to reg file. Use this link if you want to see what other files are available on the tweaks site I stumbled across.)
posted by educatedslacker at 7:25 AM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

UPHC worked. Many thanks.

FWIW it was hanging on the "windows is shutting down..." screen for longer than 30 min. Also, I happened to notice that when opening Windows Update the browser would just hang. And when I clicked on "Automatic Updates" in the Control Panel, nothing would happen. These both work now as well.

As a slightly strange side-affect my taskbar is now grey along w/window min/max and close buttons. I don't care in the slightest though.

Thanks again
posted by prodevel at 12:54 PM on October 12, 2006

I got another update from MS-uck and it hung before powering off again. I'll try the trick again and see if it works as prescribed... again.
posted by prodevel at 8:16 PM on October 17, 2006

UPHC didn't work but the registry entries did, although shutdown is about 3-4 minutes. :( At least it shuts down.
posted by prodevel at 8:43 AM on October 19, 2006

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