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My Windows XP SP3 machine recently started having this problem after I did a virus scan and cleaned up some viruses.

  1. I click Start > Shutdown.
  2. There is a full three minute delay.
  3. Finally, I get the "Shutdown, Restart, Cancel" dialog.
  4. After another full three minute delay the computer actually shuts down.

Step 4 is probably caused by something not shutting down when Windows tries to close it; I'm not worried about that yet and have seen countless mentions/solutions for it.

However, what would cause the issues in Steps 2/3?

What is Windows doing during step #2? I thought it would just immediately jump from #1 to #3 like it used to. Isn't it just an "ask the user what he wants to do" prompt, and the system hasn't really started to actually do/shutdown anything yet?

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Have you tried the user profile hive cleanup service (by Microsoft)? This may help if you are using a Windows install for a long time (i.e. over 6 months). Also, see this thread for more tips & tricks. – Breakthrough Jul 27 '11 at 10:39

My guess is a program/service got corrupted and is getting caught up while trying to shut down.

Your best friend here is the Event Viewer. It will be under System Admin Tools. Fire it up and look under the System log. Misbehaving programs will get logged here during shutdown.

Take a look there.

If that doesn't help, the next thing to do is do a clean bootup described here.

I'd go ahead and try Microsoft's Fixit. It's worth a shot.

Basically, to do a clean bootup, we will go into msconfig and turn off all startup programs and services, leaving only the bare essentials. Then you can turn on batches of them, say five at a time. Startup and then shutdown.

It's slow going. But this is by far the best method. Advice for next time? System Restore is your friend.

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