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I have a computer running Windows XP that is sometimes freezing during the shutdown process. The freeze occurs while the message "Windows is shutting down..." is displayed on screen, and happens approximately once a week (but not on a specific day/time). The freeze lasts at least over night (~8 hours) at which point I usually turn off the machine manually.

I've checked the event log after a freeze and found no errors or warnings. I also verified that the last message in the log stated that the EventLog service was shutting down.

I routinely clean up my startup services and programs, so there is very little unnecessary software running.

Because the problem is intermittent (and likely won't show up unless the computer has been in use for several hours), removing hardware or uninstalling applications isn't really a practical option in this case.

I realize that a complete list of applications and hardware in my machine could allow someone to recognize what's causing the problem, but I'm really more interested in learning how to track the issue down than simply learning which program is causing it in this instance. If there isn't anything useful posted within a day or two, I'll edit that information in.

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Some references,

I presume that you do not have any external devices that you connect once in a while,
and the system behaves so only after sessions where you have done such activity.

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"When developing Windows Microsoft paid a lot of attention to startup – it has numerous options, logs and capable utilities such as Process Monitor. Shutdown has none of that." -- Sounds like it may not be possible for me to diagnose, unless there's a third party tool that logs the shutdown process. Thanks for the links. – AaronSieb Aug 26 '09 at 15:12
@Aaron, I'd say don't go by the general statements on these links, but look at the points they have identified... you might find something useful. Also check the Microsoft article too. – nik Aug 26 '09 at 15:21
@nik Absolutely. The trouble is, a lot of the advice is things like "If it shuts down in safe mode, you can rule out software conflicts." In my case this sort of advice doesn't work, because the problem is both intermittent and infrequent. – AaronSieb Aug 26 '09 at 15:54
The articles are great at pointing out potential failure points, though. I'm working on reading through them, and figuring out how to check the items they bring up. – AaronSieb Aug 26 '09 at 15:56

reasons for that can be plentifold: malicious software, corrupt registry entries, bad drivers, BIOS related, newly installed software.

for more information, read this MSKB article:

Advanced troubleshooting for shutdown problems in Windows XP

as a workaround (not a solution!) reduce the appliaction timeout or install Superfast Shutsdown (both may cause loss of data if documents have not been saved properly!)

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I'll look into application timeout, and see if I can find a connection between it and shutdown errors. Superfast Shutsdown is a bit excessive for my particular problem :) – AaronSieb Aug 26 '09 at 15:13
sure is 'a bit excessive' but most certainly does the job :) – Molly7244 Aug 26 '09 at 15:46

For an intermittent problem, I'm willing to bet that it's not a software issue, but rather a hardware one.

I would suggest running Memtest86 on your machine, and seeing how it performs. I would also reccomend running the following at a command prompt:

  • sfc /scannow
  • chkdsk c: /r

It may also be worth checking your PSU with a power supply tester. I had intermittent crashings for 5 months, and I replaced every piece of hardware - and then I checked the power supply, and it was causing erratic behaviour.

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Thanks for the specific tool references. SFC came back clean, chkdsk is currently running. – AaronSieb Aug 26 '09 at 21:43

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