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[The following article is based on many sources, including input from individuals in the Microsoft peer-support news groups. My thanks to all. Please note that you use this information only at your own risk — I am not personally able to verify, in advance, the consequences of any action on every computer of every type used by every user. — Jim Eshelman]

Shutdown problems in Windows Millennium Edition can be caused by many factors including, but not limited to: a damaged exit sound file; incorrectly configured or damaged hardware; conflicting programs, or an incompatible, damaged, or conflicting device driver. This article can be used to troubleshoot the possible causes. Many of these issues preexisted Win ME, and should be approached through my general Windows Shutdown troubleshooting article. The present articles addresses those additional items that are unique to the Win ME shutdown problem.


Microsoft has formally acknowledged that there is a shutdown and restart problem in Windows Millennium. In email correspondence, Microsoft particularly cited an inability for Win ME to force all running programs to shut down in preparation for a system restart or shutdown. Here are the most promising approaches for resolving shutdown problems unique to Win ME:

Many hardware manufacturers have never written device drivers for Win ME. Others did eventually create them, but too late for inclusion on the Win ME CD. There are many instances where improved drivers have resolved shutdown problems that resulted from hardware hangs. In fact, this is probably the single most common solution to the Win ME shutdown problem. Examples where this has been found true by some users include:

In theory, almost any hardware could fall in this category — so check your drivers if a hardware hang is suspected.

Also related to video cards and drivers, one of the most successful “quick fixes” for many people, restoring their shutdown ability when a driver update would not, is the following: In MSCONFIG, click Advanced, then check the box marked VGA 640 x 480 x 16. Click OK twice, and let the computer reboot. When it reboots (in standard VGA mode), return to MSCONFIG, and uncheck the box. Again, reboot.

Networking issues have emerged as a cause of a larger percentage of shutdown problems for Win ME than for any earlier version of Windows. This is showing in the normal kind of networking issues mentioned in the general shutdown troubleshooter (problems with particular cards, network resources not releasing, etc.), but especially with DSL connections.

One correspondent, Richard Smith, solved his problem by disabling NDIS.VXD (in MSCONFIG, “Static VxDs” tab) — but it cost him his Internet connectivity. NDIS.VXD is part of Windows’ NetBEUI, IPX/SPX, and TCP/IP support. Bill Halvorsen has documented active or waiting network connections post-DSL usage (through his NIC) that produce BSODs (“Blue Screens Of Death”) during shutdown, unless he waits for them to time out first.

Some have found that, as they only need the TCP/IP protocol for their DSL, removing other existing network protocols has provided a satisfactory solution. For example, newsgroup correspondent Tel found that simply disabling NetBEUI resolved this problem on two machines. Other correspondents are getting at least partial resolution by downloading and installing new network adapter drivers. Others have found the best approach is to disable all network protocols except for TCP/IP.

Several correspondents have confirmed that if there is a shutdown problem in Windows ME and no Exit Windows sound is assigned, the shutdown problem is resolved by adding one!

I suspect this works by slowing down the shutdown process, thereby circumventing some other problem, such as Win ME’s inability to force all running programs to terminate. It may be, in fact, that the applications are not unwilling to terminate, but merely require a little more time. In any case, feedback from correspondents continues to suggest that you should give this solution a try!

Open and examine the C:\Windows\System\IOSUBSYS folder. Remove (to a new folder — do not delete them!) all files that are not dated the same as the operating system files (the date you install Windows ME). Test Windows shutdown. If no resolution, move the files back. WARNING: Be sure you have a startup diskette at hand. Moving these files may make your system unbootable. In that case, use the startup disk to restart the computer, and move the temporarily moved files back to the IOSUBSYS folder.

Download the “ShutMeDown” Registry patch. Please follow sensible Registry editing protocol. Backup your Registry before the change (or run System Restore to create a restore point). This is not the appropriate fix for most machines, but does help a significant number. After installing, test Windows shutdown. If the fix does not work for you, remove it by restoring the Registry to its prior state. For those who want a little more background information, the fix provided by this patch is based on a Microsoft Knowledge Base article 155117 for Windows NT 4.0.

Back up your Registry. Download the FastReboot Registry Patch. Test Windows shutdown. If no resolution, restore the prior Registry.

Go to the general Windows Shutdown Troubleshooter page and follow the 15 Steps, one at a time, until you find the solution. Basic fixes that worked for Win95/98 are among those that still work in Windows ME. Microsoft has also published a Knowledge Base article on How to Troubleshoot Windows ME Shutdown Problems.

Additional Observations & ME Shutdown Newsflashes:

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