Thus far, Windows XP shutdown issues most resemble those of Windows Millennium Edition. That is, most of them center around a very few issues, especially driver version and other legacy hardware and software compatibility issues. These are detailed below. The driver and software issues are expected to resolve substantially as hardware and software manufacturers release updated versions, now that Win XP has been officially launched.

Reboot Instead of Shutdown

The majority of shutdown problems reported with Windows XP thus far have been that it reboots when shutdown is attempted. This may be a global symptom emerging from several distinct causes, because XP executes an automatic restart in the event of a system failure. I'm guessing that this means that more or less anything compromising the operating system during the shutdown process could force this reboot. If this is true, then our job will be to prepare a series of steps suitable to isolate the most likely cause. Disabling the "restart on system failure" feature may permit the exact cause to be isolated:

Right-click on My Computer and select Properties. Click the Advanced tab. Under 'Startup & Recovery,' click Settings. Under 'System Failure,' uncheck the box in front of 'System reboot.'
Some things that have produced this reboot-instead-of-shutdown symptom are:
" By now, Roxio's Easy CD / Direct CD software is well documented as being a major cause - possibly the major cause - of this undesirable shutdown behavior. On November 1, Roxio released new drivers to solve this problem in Easy CD Creator 5 Platinum in its Windows XP updater for the Platinum product. A fix for Easy CD Creator 5 Basic is in the works. In the first few hours of its release, several peple have written me saying that this fix has resolved their Windows XP shutdown problem. I suspect that <>of the Windows XP shutdown problems will go away with Roxio's release of this patch for Platinum and the pending patch for Basic. This has been the single most common cause of Win XP shutdown problems thus far. One person after another has written to me with the simple message that this reboot behavior went away as soon as they uninstalled Easy CD. HINT No. 1: PCBUILD subscribers, by trial and error, identified the file CDRALW2K.SYS (version as the Roxio file that was causing his shutdown problems and error conditions. When he deleted this one file, his problems went away. HINT No.2: The Mystic Overclocker and others have reported that installing Easy CD 5.0 does not cause the shutdown problem, provided they do not install the Direct CD component. Though this isn't universally true, enough people have mentioned it by now for me to suggest it as a work-around.

Unassigned Device Drivers

PCBUILD subscribers have found that Windows XP won't shutdown properly if unsigned device drivers are used. Since all necessary device drivers have not yet been created for Win XP, this will be a problem for the next few months. It resembles the pattern for Win ME shutdown problems, because even today, many hardware manufacturers have not prepared suitable drivers for use with ME.


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 early stages of Win XP. This now has been fixed for some users (but not for all) by the release of new drivers.
Here's the commonly reported scenario: 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. (This problem exists with the SBLive in Windows 2000 also.)
In mid-July, Microsoft posted new Win XP drivers for the SBLive on the Windows Update site. According to PCBUILD subscribers, these drivers solve the shutdown problem the SBLive was causing. I recommend you go to Windows Update and download the new driver if you have an SBLive card. However, some users are reporting that the DEVLDR problem continues to plague them even with the new drivers:

" In the event installing the new drivers does not solve your shutdown problem, try some of the solutions people have been using prior to the release of these new drivers. PCBUILD subscribers have written that they solved the well-documented SBLive/DEVLDR32 problem by downloading and installing the LiveService software. (We caution that one should disable all antivirus software while executing this program. I do recommend that you at least virus-check anything you download first!)
" PCBUILD subscribers" gave another solution to this problem: Uninstall the LiveWare software pack (of which DEVLDR is part). Uninstall the SBLive card. Restart Windows, let it detect the new hardware, and use the Windows XP driver. However, other users have reported that this isn't satisfactory because the XP native driver gives very poor sound quality. If the new drivers work for you, they are definitely the preferred option.


Other video cards that have created problems are those based on the Kyro II video chip, such as the Hercules Prophet 4500. PCBUILD subscribers have reported that until they removed the Kyro II / Prophet 4500, they could shutdown, hibernate, or go to stand by just fine, but Restart wouldn't work - it would shutdown Windows instead. Others with this video card have reported this strange behavior on both restart and shutdown.

Apparently, this problem is now solved. Microsoft reports that new drivers for this card, specific to Windows XP, are now available from Hercules. At present, they remain uncertified (PowerVR, who makes the Kyro II chip, is working on that), but they reportedly work just fine. Download the Kyro II drivers here.


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. Because this patch is scheduled for further quality assurance testing in the future, Microsoft only recommends that you install it if you have a serious problem; otherwise, they recommend waiting for Service Pack 1, which will include the more permanent version of the fix. To learn how to get this patch, see Windows XP Stops Responding (Hangs) During Windows Shutdown.

As a workaround, we 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.


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 Q155117 for Windows NT 4.0. It apparently still works in NT 5.1; that is, in Windows XP.

Stop Erros messages at shutdown

Some users have gotten an error message similar to the following when attempting either to shutdown or restart Win XP:


TechNet and the Microsoft Knowledge Base have numerous articles discussing this type of error condition; for example, these. As a review of these articles will show, these are commonly device driver problems, but may also be caused by troublesome software (such as the notorious CrashGuard), or a problem in a system service. MSKB article Q262575 discusses a shutdown problem of this type, known to exist in Windows 2000 due to a resource (IRQ) conflict, if you have PACE Interlok anti-piracy software installed. This problem may occur in Windows XP as well.

Try 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.

It has been reported by a PCBUILD Subscriber that these STOP code error message occur when Windows XP is trying to shut down devices. He says that he has seen this twice: once with Logitech Quickcam installed (with an unsupported driver), and once with a USB DSL modem that would hang if it wasn't disconnected before shutdown.

Shutdown Works but its real slow

If it appears that Win XP is not shutting down, give it some time. Some users have reported a minute or longer for shutdown to visibly start. Thus far, it appears that this is a consequence of software that is running when shutdown is attempted, and it also may have something to do with particular hardware. If you are experiencing 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.

One specific solution for this can be found: In Control Panel | Administrative Tools | Services. (You can also get this by launching SERVICES.MSC from a Run box. This utility is also built into the Computer Management console.) Stop the Nvidia Driver Helper service. Many other newsgroup participants quickly confirmed that this solved this "extremely slow shutdown" problem for them.

Powerdown Issues

"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.)

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:
" If you changing the default power settings in the BIOS, it can lead to a powerdown problem. Restoring all BIOS power settings to default will likely fix it.
PCBUILD subscribers reported that, when the above didn't work , they restored powerdown functioning by disabling his CD-ROM's AutoRun feature. The fastest way to do this is with the "Disable AutoRun" Registry patch which you can download here.

Other Known Issues and Hints

" BIOS UPGRADE. As with every new operating system that comes along - especially one that is as much of a "step up" as Windows XP is from Windows 9x - the recommendation is made to be sure your BIOS is updated. Many people have reported that this has solved their shutdown problems (and had other advantages) with Win XP, just as it has in earlier versions of Windows.

Quick Switching user Accounts

One reported quirk affecting shutdown is the three-account shuffle. Windows XP gives the ability to rapidly bounce between user accounts, with Win+L. If at least three user accounts exist, and you quick-switch through all three, and then log off all three in reverse order - "backing out" in an orderly way - then the machine may hang on shutdown. There may be other variations of account shuffling that cause this, but this one, clear example was provided by newsgroup correspondent John Ward. So far, I have no concrete clue on what may be occurring here.

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Vishnu vardhan Reddy Boda is Tech Blogger and Software Engineer.

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