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I've seen this on every Windows PC I've owned in the last 6 or 7 years (that's about 5 or 6 PCs).

I've seen it on Windows XP mostly, but also occasionally on our Windows 7 PC.

Symptom is that you go do shut down Windows (XP, usually) and you walk away as it's shutting down. You come back the next day and it's still waiting for Windows Explorer to shut down (and WE is not responding).

You can manually shut down Windows Explorer then Windows continues shutting down normally.

Any ideas?

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Generally it's a system service or similar hook that's being slow to shut down. (I won't make this an answer because I'm on my way out the door and don't have time to expound but I'm sure somebody else can give good details) – Shinrai Apr 6 '11 at 23:32
Strange, I have never experienced this using Windows XP, Vista, W7, maybe malware? – Moab Apr 6 '11 at 23:48

I have seen shutdown scripts cause this behavior or similar behavior, and I've also seen anti-virus programs cause this behavior. It's almost like Windows Explorer is waiting for the AV client to finish, and the AV client is waiting to get exclusive access to some file Explorer is using. Once or twice I've seen similar kinds of things on laptops. The button control widgets don't shut down cleanly, and cause Explorer to wait for something which never happens. I've also seen the HP DeskJet monitoring application (or similar software) cause all kinds of weird issues. Indeed, if you're using software-based hardware monitoring and control programs of any kind, including virtual CD drives, it could also cause something like this.

You say you've seen the same behavior on 5 or 6 PCs. What's the same about these PCs? Same manufacturer? Same AV client? Same printer or camera software running? Have they all had Nero? Do they all have ATI display adapters and you run the ATI Catalyst Control Center? What have you had installed on all six or so PCs? Is it just shutting down, or is it also when the systems restart, go to sleep, or hibernate?

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One thing they all have in common is using Avast! antivirus (which has been a great AV program). I'll look into that. – Clay Nichols Apr 9 '11 at 19:44

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