Problem of the week

Tips & Hints

My computer won't shut down.

1 March, 2001

Many Windows 95 and 98 computers have trouble shutting down. When you tell them to shut down they just sit on the "please wait while your computer shuts down...." screen. When you restart the computer tells you that it didn't shut down properly last time and runs Scandisk.

When Windows 95 and 98 computers shut down, they clean up the work they were doing, close the programs that are running then stop all the devices such as power management, network cards etc. If something will not close then the system will hang on the shut down screen.

If your system will not shut down then the first thing to do is clean it up (see our article on optimising your computer.) The next step is to uninstall all unnecessary programs, remember to use the Windows add/remove programs or the program's uninstall function, don't just delete the program. If your computer is still not shutting down, it is time to get serious.

Windows 98
There is known bug in Windows 98 and a patch is available for it at the windows update site. Open the Windows Update, click the "products updates" link and allow it to detect your system. After a few minutes there should be a list of available updates, if the Windows 98 shutdown supplement is listed, install it. If it is not listed you do not have the version of Windows 98 affected by this bug.

If the problem continues, open MSConfig (Click the Start, Run, then type msconfig). Click the advanced tab and change the "Disable Fast Shutdown" option. If it is ticked, take the tick off; if it isn't ticked, tick it. You will have to shut down the computer a number of times before you will know if it has worked.

Software may still be causing the problem. Open MSConfig again, and click Startup. Take the ticks off everything except SysTray, TaskMonitor, and both instances of Load Power Profile. Note that this may stop your anti-virus, printer, scanners and other equipment from working when you next start up. If the system now shuts down properly you know it is a software problem. Add the ticks back one-by-one and shutdown the computer. Using a process of elimination will find which program is causing the problem.

Windows 95
Unfortunately, Windows 95 doesn't have the same tools to control the shut down process. The best thing to do is to remove all unnecessary programs and disable the automatic start functions in anti-virus programs, ICQ, Real Player and other programs. It is usually a program that runs in the background that is causing the problem. Disable the automatic start in each program and see if that fixes the problem, try each program in turn until the problem clears.

Other Solutions
Windows shut down problems are one of the most frustrating problems to solve. Other solutions are to do some serious changes to the system registry, remove and re-install networking or even remove the network card. All of these solutions are only for those who really know what they are doing, get a professional to help you if you still have problems.

If you cannot get Windows to shut down, it is not the end of the world. You can leave the computer at the shut down screen for a minute then shut the machine down at the the on-switch. Some computers require you to hold the power switch in for a few seconds before the computer will shut down. When the computer starts next time Scandisk will check the hard drive for any errors. This adds a minute to starting the computer but does not hurt the computer. Many users just decide to live with it.

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