Windows XP: Fix Startup / Shutdown Problems

Hardware causes of shutdown and reboot problems

USB Connections

There are several different USB-related issues that can cause the shutdown and reboot problem. Unfortunately, nearly all of them are caused by an incompatibility between a particular hardware component (say, a particular make and model of motherboard) and one or more USB devices. The solution that works more often than not is to make use of a self-powered USB hub instead of connecting the USB devices to the USB ports on the motherboard or made available elsewhere on the computer.

Mismatched RAM

It has been reported that using different types of RAM, such as DDR266 and DDR400 RAM, can cause a computer not to shut down. It is always best to install only the same type of RAM modules, preferably made by the same manufacturer.

STOP error messages

Further down this page “Windows XP produces a STOP error message at shutdown” deals with how to troubleshoot such messages, which are often produced by hardware problems.

Windows XP shutdown is very slow

Some users have reported that it takes a minute or longer for shutdown to start. Usually software is running when shutdown is initiated and Windows has to close it down, but the cause may have something to do with particular hardware.

If you experience this problem, close all running programs in the System Tray (Notification Area) and in the Windows Task Manager that you bring up with the Ctrl+Alt+Del key combination, before attempting shutdown to find out if doing so solves the problem. If it does, then, by trial and error, you can find out which of the programs are involved.

The services that Windows XP runs can be the cause of a slow shutdown. Those services are both Windows services and services being run by third-party programs. If you want to view the services being run by third-party software, enter msconfig in the Start => Run box and click on the Services tab. A list of all of the services is provided. Place a check mark in the box called Hide All Microsoft Services. If you don’t recognise any of the software, you can disable those services by removing the check mark beside them to find out if doing so fixes any particular problem. There is also a box that allows you to disable all of the services.

Some users have reported that disabling the Terminal Services service have reduced a shutdown time from over two minutes that hangs when the “Windows is shutting down” message appears, down to around the normal ten seconds.

To disable Terminal Services – or any of the other services that Windows XP runs – enter services.msc in the Start => Run box. The Services window comes up. To disable Terminal Services, find it in the list of services. Disable it by right-clicking on it, then click Properties. Under the General tab under the Startup Type heading select the Disabled option. The other available options are Manual and Automatic.

Note that Windows XP requires Terminal Services in order to run Remote Assistance, Fast User Switching, and – in Windows XP Professional – Remote Desktop.

The Event Log can also slow down Windows XP’s shutdown. Disabling event logging fixes the problem, but then you have to find out, by trial and error, which of the items that are being logged is causing the slow shutdown. The Event Log appears in the Services window and is disabled in the same way as any other service.