I had recently encountered interesting problem of Windows XP freezing on shutdown. It was new PC with narrow function (video surveillance workstation) so it makes good example on how obscure shutdown issues in Windows can be and how to save time solving them.
Nature of problem
- Windows was completely freezing on reaching “Windows is shutting down message” on either shutdown or reboot;
- computer had simple hardware and was only running antivirus and video surveillance software – not many things to go wrong.
Shutdown has none of that.
So aside from enabling verbose status messages for startup and shutdown (which isn’t really much more verbose) I had no insight in shutdown process and what exactly goes wrong.
On top of tracing limited to elimination and guesswork there are numerous possible causes for shutdown issues:
- software that freezes or otherwise interferes with process;
- third party system services;
- hardware errors and resource conflicts;
- low quality drivers;
- corrupted files on disk;
- wrong ACPI configuration in BIOS or Windows installation.
Narrowing it down
- Windows safe mode – shutdown fails – eliminates software;
- disabling third party services – shutdown fails – eliminates services;
- checking hard drive – no errors – probably eliminates corrupt files;
- booting from LiveCD – shutdown works – eliminates BIOS and hardware.
I was left with drivers as possible cause. PCI card that handled video capture from security cameras was most likely suspect so I started with disabling its driver in Device Manager.
Shutdown problem disappeared. At cost of making PC useless for work. :)
Reinstalling driver didn’t help so I had to arrange contact with support that provided latest driver version which solved issue completely.
There is no good utility or smart trick to figure out shutdown problem. It boils down to list of possible causes and eliminating them in fast and efficient manner.
It may sound fast in post but with additional circumstances it took me two days to go through everything in this case.
Microsoft Support articles on topic http://support.microsoft.com/kb/308029