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Version 13.8 — March 5, 2007
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“With its rock-solid foundation and ground-breaking new features, Windows XP Professional won’t quit working, even when your workday is done.” — Microsoft
(Did they know what they were saying?)

Shutdown problems in Windows XP can be caused by many factors, just like earlier versions of Windows. These included: a damaged exit sound file; incorrectly configured, damaged, or incompatible hardware; conflicting programs, or an incompatible, damaged, or conflicting device driver.

For a step-by-step troubleshooting method that applies to all versions of Windows 9x, see the generic Windows Shutdown Troubleshooter. Some of its steps may be found to apply to Windows XP as well, though many will not.

Windows XP shutdown issues mostly center around a very few issues, especially legacy hardware and software compatibility issues.

Currently, the leading cause of Windows XP shutdown problems is hardware incompatibility, including driver issues. These are detailed below where known. However, it is impossible to list every possible hardware or driver issue individually. My best advice is: Check all drivers for all hardware devices to ensure that they are the current best for Windows XP.


Most 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 “Automatically restart.”

Here are some things that have produced this reboot-instead-of-shutdown symptom:


During shutdown or reboot, Win XP may hang (stop responding) at the “saving your settings” screen. During such a hang, there is no response to Ctrl+Alt+Del; the mouse may or may not work. The problem may be intermittent.

This is a known bug in Windows XP, for which Microsoft has a supported fix. To learn how to get this patch, see MSKB 307274, “Windows XP Stops Responding (Hangs) During Windows Shutdown.” The necessary patch is included in Windows XP Service Pack 1, and also is now available on the Windows Update site under “Recommended Updates” for Win XP Professional, titled “Restarting Windows XP.” However, to find it, you may need to reconfigure how Windows Update appears for you, by enabling the Windows Update Catalog as follows: At the Windows Update page, click Personalize Windows Update at the left, and then Enable the Windows Update Catalog. Save your settings. This adds the Windows Update Catalog link in the left box. Click this link, then click Find updates for Microsoft Windows systems. Pick Windows XP in the drop-down list, click Search, take Recommended Updates, and find the “Restarting Windows XP” patch which references Q307274.

As a workaround, newsgroup correspondent “lou” resolved this problem by dismantling the Windows XP logon Welcome screen. In the Control Panel, click User Accounts, then click “Change the way users log on or off.” Uncheck the box that says “Use the Welcome screen.” This removes the initial logon screen with individual icons for each user and, instead, pops up the classic logon prompt that requires each user to type a user name and password.


In the early days of Win ME, one of the biggest culprits for shutdown issue was the Creative Labs SoundBlaster Live. History repeated itself in the Beta phase of Win XP. SOLUTION: The SBLive drivers in the released version of Win XP solved the shutdown problem for most (but not all) SBLive users.

Here’s the commonly reported problem scenario people encountered: On attempting shutdown, nothing at all appears to happen for a prolonged period of time. Eventually, an “End Task” window appears, wanting to terminate DEVLDR32.EXE. No matter what one does, one ultimately is locked out of shutting down other than by a power switch shutoff. (NOTE: This problem exists with the SBLive in Windows 2000 also.)

You may have to do a couple of extra steps to get rid of old files so that the new drivers will install correctly (especially if you installed the final version of Win XP on top of one of the Beta versions), or to remove troublesome support software. Correspondent Sean Caldwell summarized his steps: Shutdown Windows. Remove the Creative card. Reboot in Safe Mode. In the \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 folder, delete the DEVLDR file. Fully shutdown the computer before rebooting.

Some users report that the DEVLDR problem continues to plague them even with the new drivers. If installing the new drivers doesn’t solve your shutdown problem, try these solutions:


In addition to hardware issues mentioned under other specialized topics on this page, many users have written identifying specific hardware as at the root of the Windows XP shutdown issue. Here’s what they have reported:


Some users, when attempting either to shutdown or restart Win XP, get an error message similar to the following: STOP 0x0000009F: DRIVER_POWER_STATE_FAILURE

Stop Messages literally means that Windows has stopped. (Which isn’t the same as saying it has shutdown!) See Knowledge Base Links: STOP MESSAGES for much more information that the brief remarks below. Most Stop Messages indicate hardware issues; some are caused by troublesome software or a system service problem. The links page just mentioned provides a 10-step approach to troubleshooting STOP Messages in general, then itemized analysis on the most common of these. (STOP messages are identified by an 8-digit hexadecimal number, but also commonly written in a shorthand notation; e.g., a STOP 0x0000000A may also be written Stop 0xA.)

Here are a few that may affect Win XP shutdown and restart. Stop 0x9F and Stop 0x8E are two of the most common of these at shutdown, and generally point to a bad driver. Stop 0x7B on restarting means Win XP lost access to the system partition or boot volume during the startup process, due to a bad device driver, boot sector virus, resource conflict, boot volume corruption, or other problem listed here. Stop 0xC000021A can when on restart after a system administrator has modified permissions so that the SYSTEM account no longer has adequate permissions to access system files and folders.

MS-MVP Jim Pickering advises the following as one approach to these problems: Restart the computer. Press F8 during the restart and select “ Last Known Good Configuration.” If you catch the problem when it first occurs (meaning you likely have installed only one or two drivers or new service), this will return you to a previous working condition. System Restore provides an alternate approach, especially if you need to go back further than the last known good configuration, and Device Manager provides a tool for rolling back to an earlier driver.


  1. If it appears that Win XP is not shutting down, give it some time. Some users report a minute or longer for shutdown to visibly start. Generally, this is a consequence of software that is running when shutdown is attempted. It also may have something to do with particular hardware. If you experience this problem, be sure to close all running programs before attempting shutdown and see if this solves your problem. If so, then you can determine, by trial and error, which program(s) are involved.

  2. Newsgroup correspondent “Sarah” provided one specific solution for this. In Control Panel | Administrative Tools | Services, stop the Nvidia Driver Helper service. (You can also get this by launching SERVICES.MSC from a Run box.) Many other newsgroup participants quickly confirmed that this solved this “extremely slow shutdown” problem for them (it’s the most successful solution for this problem to date). According to correspondent Gan Ming Teik, downloading and installing the new version 23.11 Nvidia driver also solves this problem.

  3. Correspondent Ron Spruell found that disabling the Terminal Services service reduced his shutdown time from over 2 minutes (hanging at the “Windows is shutting down” screen) to about 10 seconds. To disable Terminal Services, follow the steps in the prior paragraph for launching SERVICES.MSC. Please note that Terminal Services is required in Windows XP for running Remote Assistance, Fast User Switching, and (in XP Pro) Remote Desktop.

  4. Correspondent Graeme J.W. Smith reported a more obscure cause of slow shutdown: In Win XP Professional, the Group Policy Editor has a security option to clear the pagefile at system shutdown. The same setting also forces the hibernation file to be wiped at shutdown. These processes take long enough that users may think that shutdown has hung. To change the setting, click Start | Run, type GPEDIT.MSC, click OK. Drill down to Computer Configuration | Windows Settings | Security Settings | Local Policies | Security Options. In the right pane, find “Shutdown: Clear virtual memory pagefile.” NOTE: Since someone actually has to have set this policy, the problem will be pretty rare, but is worth mentioning. However, Forum participant “roadrunner” reported that the personal security app Privacy Eraser automatically enables “Clear virtual memory pagefile,” and, therefore, may be the cause of a slow shutdown.

  5. The Gear Software Security Service (GEARSEC.EXE), which enables iTunes for Windows to read and burn CDs, has been reported by many users to cause Windows XP to hang at the “Windows is shutting down” screen for as long as 20-30 seconds. WORK-AROUND: Stop the service prior to shutdown. One way to to this (suggested by “Thornburgh”) is to create a batch file with the one line net stop gearsecurity. You can either launch this batch file manually, or (in Win XP Professional) use GPEDIT.MSC) to specify this batch file as the shutdown script (under Computer Configuration | Windows Settings | Scripts | Shutdown). Gear Software’s forum has a thread on this issue here. (Tip from correspondent “Andy”)

  6. MS-MVP Gary Thorn discovered that the Event Log can slow down Win XP shutdown. Disabling event logging removed the slowdown. If this works for you, then the real troubleshooting begins: finding out, by trial and error, what item that is being logged is causing the actual slowdown. (In Gary’s case, the Telephony service was causing the problem.) To disable the Event Log, launch the Services console as detailed in No. 2 above, and disable Event Log (right-click on Event Log, click Properties, under Startup Type select “Disabled”).

  7. In a domain environment, don’t forget to check any logoff scripts you are pushing. These can be a source of slow or hanging shutdown processes. Site visitor Tony Barkdull, for example, found that an enforced logoff script caused show shutdown for laptops that were off-site. He solved it be creating a logoff script on the local machines that deletes the Active Directory logoff group policy after it runs so that the logoff scripts are absent while a user is off-site, but are repopulated when they return. — A related cause of slow shutdowns is offline synchronization of data, which is increasingly common with mobile computing, but is usually much more obvious to the end-user.


“Powerdown issues” are quite distinctive from “shutdown issues.” I define a shutdown problem as one wherein Windows doesn’t make it at least to the “OK to shut off your computer” screen. If Windows gets that far, or farther, then it has shut down correctly. However, the computer may not powerdown correctly after that. This is a different problem, and I encourage people reporting these issues to make a clear distinction in their labeling.

When Windows XP won’t powerdown automatically, the APM/NT Legacy Power Node may not be enabled. To enable this, right-click on the My Computer icon, click Properties | Hardware | Device Manager | View. Check the box labeled “Show Hidden Devices.” If it’s available on your computer, there will be a red X on the APM/NT Legacy Node. Try enabling it and see if this resolves the powerdown problem (Tip from Terri Stratton). Or, to check the other side of the APM/ACPI coin, open the Power Options applet in Control Panel. If there is an APM tab, make sure the “Enable Advanced Power Management Support” box is checked. (MSKB 313290)

This should resolve the powerdown issue in most cases. However, other factors can sometimes interfere with correct powerdown functioning. In that case, consider the following tips:


Some new shutdown and powerdown issues have arisen in Windows XP SP1. Here are the ones I know about:


Some new issues have arisen in Windows XP SP2. Here are the ones I know about:


(This page is also reproduced, with my permission, on Windows XP Mania.)

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