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Windows XP: How to Troubleshoot and Fix Shutdown, Restart/Reboot, Reboot and General PC Startup Problems


CONTENTS OF THIS PAGE


Click the relevant link to go to that information

Shutdown and restart (reboot) problems

How to troubleshoot PC startup problems

Startup, shutdown and restart articles in the MS Knowledge Base

How to use the Bootcfg /Rebuild command in the Recovery Console to recover from "Missing or corrupt HAL.DLL," "Invalid Boot.Ini," or "Windows could not start..." startup error messages

What to do if Windows XP won't boot and you don't have an XP installation CD and you don't want to use the Recovery CD provided by the PC's manufacturer

My PC reboots by itself and warnings have appeared asking me to run Chkdsk

My PC constantly reboots 10 to 20 minutes after being switched on

Click here! to go to the full list of hardware and software problems dealt with on this website


Shutdown and restart (reboot) problems

Shutdown problems in Windows XP are most commonly caused by what is know in computer circles as legacy hardware - old technology components and peripherals that are not Plug and Play (PnP) devices - and software-compatibility issues.

Slow shutdowns are mostly caused by having too many programs loaded that have to be terminated during the shutdown process, many of which are usually loaded at startup. Software, such as the free Soluto from soluto.com, which runs on all of the current versions of Windows (XP, Vista, Win7) can be used to manage the shutdown. It monitors the startup and determines which background programs are essential and which are not, displaying its findings and informing the user what should be left alone, what is safe to remove from the boot process and what can be chosen to remove. Soluto can do quite a bit of other PC maintenance and management, so it is worthwhile having.

After you install a new hardware device or new software, Windows XP may restart continuously or you may receive an error message on a blue screen. If your computer was shutting down,but all of a sudden it won't shut down properly, or it restarts during the shutdown, if you installed any new software or device drivers, remove the software via Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel, or use the Roll Back Driver feature in the Device Manager (right-click My Computer, click Properties, click the Hardware tab, and find the device, double-click on its entry and open its Driver tab) to restore the old driver. If you discover that a driver is the cause of the problem, try downloading and installing the latest driver for the device from its manufacturer's site. If you installed any new hardware immediately before the problem occurred, obtain the latest driver file available for it in the same way. If the device still causes the problem with the latest driver installed, try a different make and model.

The following MS Knowledge Base article discusses with how to deal with startup and restart problems caused by device drivers.

How to troubleshoot hardware and software driver problems in Windows XP -

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/322205/en-gb

Most of that information also applies to subsequent versions of Windows. If you are having these problems in a version of Windows Vista or Windows 7 and you are finding it difficult to apply the information in that article, try entering the search term How to troubleshoot hardware and software driver problems followed by the version of windows you are using in a web search engine.

Windows XP shutdown hangs or shuts down immediately on startup

The following problem is a common shutdown issue and can usually be cured by following the suggested procedure.

Problem

1. - "My Windows XP Pro SP3 PC is not shutting down all of a sudden for some unknown reason. I click Start => Turn Off Computer => Turn Off and the system begins the shutdown and gets to the point where it says, "Windows XP - Saving your settings" but then it just sits there. "

The following is a similar problem that can be solved in the same way:

2. - My HP laptop running Windows XP SP3, fully updated, when booting (usually the next day) after what looked like a normal shut down, produces the "Windows is shutting down" message and then does so. The next boot works properly all the way into Windows. It looks to me as if Windows only seemed to shut down properly, but something hung so that it didn't shut down properly and it has to do so the next time it is booted. That's all very well, but I have no idea how to fix the problem.

Answer

For both problems, if there is a System Restore restore point available that predates the problem, try restoring it, otherwise try the following for both problems:

Enter msconfig in the Start -> Run box to bring up System Configuration Utility. Disable everything in the Startup tab. Then open the Services tab, enable the Hide All Microsoft Services option and then click on the Disable All button. Only the services run by Windows will be enabled. Reboot to find out if you can shut down. If shutdown works, enable each item one by one until one of them produces the hang. A shutdown can be affected by some client dump under the Services tab.

Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows Server 2003 can experience excessively long shutdowns because a system process won't release part of the user profile as it should when the user turns the system off. Consequently, the system remains inactive until the process times out and Windows can force it to shut down.

To fix that problem, Microsoft provides a free User Profile Hive Cleanup Service tool that monitors the shutdown process, making sure that all handles opened to the hive are released properly.

User Profile Hive Cleanup Service -

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=6676

"A hive is a logical group of keys, subkeys, and values in the registry that has a set of supporting files containing backups of its data." -

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms724877(v=vs.85).aspx

In this case, the hive is all the User Profile data. The UPHCleanup tool only works on the 32-bit versions of Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003. Fortunately, not many people will be using the 64-bit version of Windows XP Professional and there is no 64-bit version of Windows XP Home.

Windows Vista and Windows 7 provide this cleanup process as a service. For more information on UPHCleanup and the problems it can solve, visit this webpage:

You experience log off problems on a Windows XP-based, Windows Server 2003-based, Windows 2000-based, or Windows NT 4.0-based computer -

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/837115/en-us

If you are still experiencing a shutdown problem - even after having used the information in the next item on this page called Force a shutdown in Windows XP, try doing the following...

For example, a shutdown or reboot may linger only a second or two at the Saving your settings... screen but hang at the Windows is shutting down... screen. The shutdown (or reboot) may continue to completion, but at least 50% of the time forcing a manual shutdown or reboot is required. Adding the -f switch to the shutdown command to make it shutdown -s -f and entering it in the Start => Run box might not make any difference even when Windows XP SP3 is completely up-to-date, the Registry has been cleaned by the free CCleaner from ccleaner.com (or alternative Registry cleaner) and the hard-drive partitions have been defragmented using the Start => All Programs => Accessories => System Tools => Disk Defragmenter.

In that case, it looks as if a low-level software process or a device's device driver is not responding to the Windows shutdown command. If the problem occurred after installing new software or a hardware device, uninstalling that software or uninstalling the hardware's device drivers in the Device Manager (by finding the device, right-clicking on its entry and clicking Uninstall) shutting down and removing the device might fix the problem.

If so, the permanent solution may be as simple as updating the software, using alternative software or using different drivers for the hardware. It would also be a good idea to update all drivers and software. Secunia Personal Software Inspector can identify which software needs updating and often also update it for you. Device drivers can be updated by running the update software provided by the PC's motherboard manufacturer. If you need to identify the make/model of the motherboard, CPU-Z from cpuid.com can do that.

If the problem still hasn't been fixed by doing that, you'll have to do some deeper investigation. Make sure that you have a restorable backup of your system, just in case something goes wrong. You can use the free Microsoft Sysinternals Process Explorer utility to have a deep look at the processes that are running at any time.

Run Process Explorer and find out what low-level software is running when there is no apparent activity and the system is ready for shutdown (there are no open programs and files). To be provided with plenty of information on it, right-click on any process shown in Process Explorer, select Properties. The tool can display an enhanced Properties dialog for any process that is selected.

Begin with third-party (non-Windows) software, because Windows software is unlikely to be the cause unless the problem started after Windows Update installed updates. If that was the case you can uninstall Windows updates one by one in the Control Panel => Add or Remove Programs if the option to Show updates is enabled.

End one process and then shut down. If Windows shuts down properly, you know which process is the cause of the shutdown problem. If it doesn't, restart and end one process at a time until a normal shutdown occurs. You should eventually be able to discover which software is responsible. Knowing that, you just have to remove or update that software or use alternative software.

Force a shutdown in Windows XP

The command shutdown -s -f typed into the Start => Run box, or used in a batch file, will make Windows XP shut down even if some software or driver doesn't acknowledge the termination command. Enter the search query how to create a batch file in in a search engine to be presented with links to articles on how to do that for all versions of Windows.)

If a particular device driver or software isn't allowing the computer to shut down quickly, if an update is available for your version of Windows, you should install the latest version.

The (Windows XP) command shutdown -r -f does the same thing, but with a reboot (-r) instead of a shutdown.

The Windows XP implementation of shutdown is explained here:

http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/windows/xp/all/proddocs/...

The free PsShutdown utility is an enhanced version of Windows XP's standard shutdown command that includes Suspend and Hibernation options. Shortcuts to PsShutdown can be created as described in the article linked to above.

PsShutdown - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897541.aspx

For more about the shutdown command options, go to Start => Help and Support. Use shutdown as the search term, and under Pick a task select Shutdown.

The Windows Vista and Windows 7 shutdown command has additional options, as explained on the TechNet shutdown reference page:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc732503%28WS.10%29.aspx

Shutdown utilities

If a computer doesn't shut down due to a device-driver problem, both of the free tools, the links to which are provided below, can force a system shutdown.

Wizmo - http://grc.com/wizmo/wizmo.htm

Entering the commands Wizmo shutdown! and Wizmo reboot! (with the exclamation marks) in the Start => Run box are the Wizmo equivalents of the shutdown -s -f and shutdown -r -f commands mentioned above.

Show Stopper - http://www.karenware.com/

Unfortunately, a forced shutdown is sometimes the only option available when device drivers are the cause of the problem. Steve Gibson's Wizmo utility is a multipurpose tool that can be used for several operations, including effecting system shutdowns. Show Stopper from karenware.com, is more specifically targeted at system shutdowns. It includes a very clear explanation of what is involved with all the various types of shutdowns - power-off, reboot, suspend, hibernate, etc. The use of these two utilities will work only if the shutdown trouble is caused by a device driver and not by a general system problem, so if you suspect it might be something other than a driver issue, then one of the following web searches entered in a search engine might help.

Windows XP - windows + xp + shutdown + problem

Windows 98 - trouble + slow + shutdown + xp

Many shutdown troubleshooting tools exist. The following web search should provide some useful links: trouble + slow + shutdown + xp.

How to speed up the shutdown process by editing the Registry

Note that you should always create a restore point in System Restore before editing the Windows Registry so that it can be restored from Safe Mode should Windows fail to boot into normal mode. Safe Mode is run by pressing the F8 key repeatedly to bring up the boot menu options, which include SM, before Windows starts to load into normal mode.

To reduce shutdown delays in Windows XP,click the Start button, enter regedit in the Run box and press Enter. When Registry Editor opens, open Hkey_Current_User => Control Panel => Desktop in the left-hand window. In the right window, double-click AutoEndTasks (the entries appear in alphabetical order) and change its default value from 0 to 1 and click OK. This setting, which reduces long delays at shutdown, is only found in Windows XP.

In the same right-hand window, scroll down to the WaitToKillAppTimeout setting and double-click on it. Its default value is 20,000 milliseconds (20 seconds?), which can and obviously be changed to a lower value, such as 10,000 milliseconds (10 seconds) or even 5,000 milliseconds. Windows will wait for whatever time is set before it shuts down a program that it detects is not closing itself down.

When a hardware incompatibility, a device driver, or software is the cause of a shutdown problem

If you suspect that a particular device or software is causing the problem search the web for relevant information about it. For example, the Logitech Y-SB3 Internet Keyboard can also cause the restart on shutdown problem. If it is used as a standard generic keyboard, there is no problem with it, but if the Key Commander software that drives its special Internet functions is installed, Windows XP restarts instead of shutting down. Unfortunately, Logitech is not going to provide and update of for this particular keyboard. To find information on the web about this keyboard, you would use a search query (as is) in a search engine such as: "logitech y-sb3" + xp + shutdown + reboot. Conduct the same kind of search for any hardware or software you suspect is the cause of a shutdown problem.

Currently, the foremost cause of Windows XP shutdown issues is hardware incompatibility, usually caused by incompatible device drivers. There are so many of those that it is impractical to list all of them here.

If you're suffering from a shutdown problem, make sure that you are using Windows XP updated with at least Service Pack 2 (SP2), Microsoft's support for ended on 13 July 2010, or preferably with Service Pack 3 (SP3) - the last service pack for Windows XP - and subsequently-released security updates and patches. Many of the known shutdown problems that were present with the original release of Windows XP, and those that became apparent after the release of Service Pack 1 (SP1), were fixed by SP2. There is no information on this page on issues that have been fixed by SP2 (which incorporates the changes made in SP1), because every Windows XP user should have updated to it, or SP3, the final Service Pack for XP, by now.

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If Microsoft's articles were good, there wouldn't be so many people providing the same advice on the web. In my opinion, Microsoft's articles are often much more difficult to absorb and/or follow than alternative articles covering the same subject matter. Nevertheless, you might find visiting this page enlightening: Windows XP Shut Down and Automatic Reboot Problems.

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Upgrade the BIOS

If none of the information provided on this page, or that you can locate elsewhere, solves a particular shutdown, restart, powerdown problem, and a BIOS update is available for the make and model of the computer's motherboard, installing it might just do the trick, especially if you have installed Windows XP on elderly hardware. There are many reports on the web of how such an action has solved many problems, including shutdown problems.

Visit the BIOS pages on this site for more information on it.

How to customise (US: customize) a computer's power button

You should never press a computer's power button to switch it off without shutting Windows down, because doing so can cause a whole host of problems to occur. However, in Windows XP, if your hardware supports it, it's possible to set Windows so that when you press the power button Windows shuts down and then switches off.

To do that, open the Control Panel and open Power Options. Click its Advanced tab. In the Power buttons section, click on the drop-down menu called When I press the power button on my computer. There are four options. Choose the Shutdown option and click Apply. Now, when you press the power button that switches the computer on and off, it will first shut Windows down and then switch the computer off. If this option is not available, then, either your computer hasn't got the hardware capacity, or the capability is disabled in the BIOS.

Shutdown and restart shortcuts for Windows XP (and Windows 2000)

Windows 2000, with its Resource Kit installed, and Windows XP have a shutdown command that can be executed from a Command Prompt or from a shortcut.

To find out what the options are with the shutdown command, go Start => Run and enter cmd. At the Command Prompt, enter shutdown /? for a list of the available switches.

The MS Knowledge Base article How to Use the Remote Shutdown Tool to Shut Down and Restart a Computer in Windows 2000, which also applies to Windows XP, is worth reading.


Startup, shutdown and restart articles in the MS Knowledge Base

The following MS Knowledge Base articles are on startup, shutdown, and restart problems in Windows XP. Read through them to see if any of them describes your particular problem. Click the reference number to visit the article.

Error message in Windows XP Service Pack 2: "Stop 0x7E" - You may receive a Stop error message that is similar to the following on a Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2)-based computer: STOP 0x0000007e (parameter1, parameter2, parameter3, parameter4) aec.sys Note The parameter values may vary. This error may occur during startup or after you have started the computer.
Resources to Help Troubleshoot Shutdown Problems in Windows XP
Windows XP Restarts When You Try to Shut Down Your Computer
Windows XP Stops Responding (Hangs) During Windows Shutdown [the original Pre-SP1 version of Windows XP. Read the item below this table on this problem]
You cannot log off, restart, or shut down your Windows XP-based computer [with some versions of Norton Antivirus 2003]
Your Computer May Not Shut Down After You Upgrade to Windows XP
Computer May Stop Responding When You Shut Down & Use Only the 802.1x [Wireless Networking] Protocol for User Authentication
Computer Does Not Shut Down Properly if Selective Suspend Is Enabled [with USB keyboard or mouse]
Remote Shut Down of Client Computer Fails
Error Message When You Shut Down Computer: DEVLDR Not Responding
"Device Not Ready" Error Message When You Try to Shut Down a Windows XP Workstation Remotely [Applies to Windows XP Professional]

MS Knowledge Base article 307274: Shutdown hangs after the "Saving your settings" message

During shutdown, Windows XP might hang (stop responding) after the "Saving your settings" message appears. The Ctrl+Alt+Del key combination doesn't work, and the computer's mouse may or may not function. The problem may occur from time to time instead of constantly.

This problem should not be occurring in Windows XP SP2 systems (systems updated with Service Pack 2 (SP2) or which came with Windows XP SP2 preinstalled. (Windows XP SP2 and Windows XP SP3 installation CDs are available).

This is a known bug in the original pre-SP1 version of Windows XP, for which Microsoft has supplied a fix. To find out how to get this patch, see MS Knowledge Base article 307274, Windows XP Stops Responding (Hangs) During Windows Shutdown. The necessary patch is included in Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1).

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Here are two known causes of shutdown and reboot problems in Windows XP SP2:

Caused by automatic Windows update installation. - If Windows XP SP2 is set to obtain and install updates automatically, when shutting down, it checks for Windows updates that have been downloaded but not installed. If there are one or more, it then offers to install them. A very slow shutdown probably occurs on that occasion, but if something goes wrong, the shutdown can hang completely.

To turn Automatic Updates on or off in WinXP SP2...

You must be logged on as a computer administrator to complete this procedure. Open System in the Control Panel, and then click the Automatic Updates tab, click Start => Control Panel, and then double-click on Automatic Updates.

Automatic (recommended) is the first option, but there are three others, including Turn Off Automatic Updates.

To eliminate the problem, enter services.msc in the Start => Run box. Select Automatic Updates from the list of services, and click Stop to disable the Automatic Updates service.

Then locate and rename the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution folder to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution.old, and restart the Automatic Updates service.

Data Execution Prevention (DEP) causes a reboot on shutdown. -

64-bit AMD processors have a feature called Data Execution Prevention (DEP) that prevents illicit code from being executed. If some installed hardware uses the mpegport.sys driver, a conflict between the two occurs - the driver tries to run from the same memory space that DEP monitors, and a 0xFC Stop message is displayed. If the computer is set to reboot automatically on a system failure, (read the next item on this kind of problem) the conflict will make the system reboot after shutdown. The solution is to install a new driver for that hardware. Microsoft has provided a workaround in the following Knowledge Base article: http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=878474.

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If you are using Windows XP updated to at least SP2 and have installed all of the subsequent updates, the next action to take is to check that all of the device drivers for all of hardware components - the motherboard's chipset, video and sound cards, etc. - are the latest ones installed. You do that by identifying the make and models of the components (if you don't already know what those details are), locate the manufacturer's website, (use a search engine if necessary by entering the make and model of the device as the search query) and locate the download page for the particular device to find out if the driver's version is a higher one than the driver currently installed. You can do that by opening the Device Manager (right-click My Computer, click Properties , click the Hardware tab). In the Device Manager, open the device's category by clicking on its + sign, double click on the device, and look under the Driver tab.

Click here! to go to a page on this site with links to free utilities that can be used to identify a computer's hardware and software components.


1. - Windows XP reboots after starting the shutdown procedure

Software that causes the shutdown and reboot problem

Easy CD Creator 5.0 from Roxio

The most common shutdown problem occurs when Windows XP reboots at the end of the shutdown procedure. By default XP is programmed to restart the system in the event of a system failure, therefore anything that goes wrong during the process will cause XP to reboot.

There is a setting called Automatically restart that will be enabled by default in some versions of XP, but not in Windows XP SP2 and Windows XP SP3. You can check to find out if it's enabled by right-clicking on My Computer, then click on Properties, followed by the Advanced tab. Under Startup and Recovery, click Settings. Under System Failure, the box in front of the Automatically restart setting should not be checked. If there is a check mark in the box remove it with the mouse's cursor.

The major culprit that causes XP to reboot instead of shutdown is the Easy CD/Direct CD software from Roxio/Adeptec. Roxio has released new drivers to fix this problem in both the Platinum and the Basic editions of Easy CD Creator 5.0.

Many of XP's shutdown problems were fixed after the release of these updates. Before installing them, however, you must read the instructions in order to avoid having XP not boot at all.

Roxio's Video Pack 5 contains the main parts of Easy CD 5.0, so it is also a cause of the problem. If you have this software installed and you have the reboot problem, the only way to fix it is to uninstall Video Pack 5.

Note that many users of Easy CD 5.0 have found that if they don't install the Direct CD component, it doesn't cause the reboot problem.

Advanced Power Management (APM)

Windows XP uses Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) to manage its use of power, but it can use the earlier Advanced Power Management (APM) software to control the way its power is managed.

During the Windows Setup procedure, ACPI is installed only if all of the components present during setup support power management. Some components, especially legacy components, do not support power management and can cause erratic behavior with the earlier Advanced Power Management (APM), or may prevent ACPI from being installed. Examples are redundant Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) components and a BIOS that doesn't support APM or ACPI.

In Windows XP, the APM tab is unavailable under Power Options in the Control Panel on ACPI-compliant computers. ACPI automatically enables Advanced Power Management, which disables the APM tab.

Some users report that XP reboots on shutdown if APM is enabled, but shuts Windows down properly if it is disabled. Other users report exactly the opposite - that XP reboots if APM is disabled. The issue seems related to the computer's particular set of hardware components or its BIOS. In order to avoid the problem, whenever possible, only use components that are listed in Hardware Compatibility List.

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A powerdown problem differs from a shutdown problem

A shutdown problem is different to a powerdown problem. It a computer won't shut down properly it's a shutdown problem, but if a computer shuts down, but won't switch off, its a powerdown problem.

If Windows XP doesn't switch the computer off automatically, the APM/NT Legacy Power Node is probably not enabled. To enable it, use the right mouse button to click on the My Computer icon, then click Properties => Hardware => Device Manager => View. Check the box labelled Show Hidden Devices. If the settings is available, there will be a red X on the APM/NT Legacy Node. Try enabling the setting to find out if doing so solves the problem. If not, open the Power Options applet in Control Panel. If there is an APM tab, make sure the Enable Advanced Power Management Support box has a checkmark in it.

Other causes of a computer not powering down properly are:

1. - A faulty power supply unit (PSU) can be the cause of a computer not switching off automatically. If the computer has an elderly PSU, replacing it will probably fix the problem is none of the other possible causes are responsible. If the motherboard only has a 20-pin power connector, make sure that you don't buy a replacement that only provides the new 24-pin power connector.

2. - Changes made to the default power settings in the BIOS, it can lead to a powerdown problem. Restoring all BIOS power settings to their defaults will most probably fix the problem.

3. - I found several reports on the web in which the users of Windows XP systems discovered that their computers wouldn't powerdown properly unless Turn off monitor, Turn off hard disks, and System standby are all set to the Never option under Control Panel => Power Options.

Occasionally, not all of the Registry settings are created when all the of the appropriate power management settings are enabled in Windows XP. Fortunately, the ShutNTdown Registry patch (a .reg file that places the settings into the Registry) is available from: http://aumha.org/downloads/

Note well: Make sure that you have a restorable backup of the system or the Registry, and that you have created a restore point in System Restore before you make changes to the Registry.

4. - Cftmon.exe is a 15K system file found in the Windows\system32 folder. It provides the Alternate Language Bar and provides text input service support for speech recognition, handwriting recognition, keyboard, translation, and other alternative user input technologies. ZoneAlarm Pro from zonealarm.com produces an alert which says that the file is monitoring the mouse and keyboard usage. It is used by MS Office XP and stays active when all of Office's programs are shut down. It can be the cause of a computer not switching off properly. This MS Knowledge Base article provides information on how it can be effectively disabled: http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=282599

5. There are many other causes for a computer not powering down properly, most of which users will have reported in Google Groups(Usenet postings.

The Latest Windows XP Hardware Compatibility List

View the MS Knowledge Base article 314062 - Windows XP Hardware Compatibilty List here: http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=314062

You can confirm that a particular piece of computer hardware, such as a video card, is compatible with Windows XP by consulting the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) at the Microsoft Windows Hardware Quality Labs website. - http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/hcl/default.mspx


Power management settings

Wake-Up Event Activity power settings are power-management settings in the BIOS that make a computer wake up from a sleep state when receiving a signal from a LAN, a USB device, a modem, etc.

From the BIOS section of a motherboard manual: "Resume S3 by PS2/Keyboard, Resume S3 by PS2/Mouse These fields allow the activity of the PS2 (keyboard and mouse) to wake up the system from S3 sleep state. Settings: [Enabled], [Disabled]."

They can instigate a restart after shutdown. For example, if set to do so in the power management settings in the BIOS, a USB mouse can trigger a Wake-Up Event Activity after every Windows shutdown. The computer then reboots. Their solution in this case would be to use a different mouse or obtain an updated device driver for the mouse that fixes the problem.

Note that wake on power settings can be difficult to locate. For example, if you have an Ethernet network adapter integrated into your computer's motherboard, you may have hidden "wake on..." settings that don't appear in the BIOS or in the Windows Power Management settings. For example, an Asus P5GDC-V Deluxe motherboard's device drivers install a "wake on.." setting under the Advanced tab of System Properties, which is opened by going Start => Control Panel => System.

Hardware causes of shutdown and reboot problems

USB Connections

There are several different USB-related issues that can cause the shutdown and reboot problem. Unfortunately, nearly all of them are caused by an incompatibility between a particular hardware component (say, a particular make and model of motherboard) and one or more USB devices. The solution that works more often than not is to make use of a self-powered USB hub instead of connecting the USB devices to the USB ports on the motherboard or made available elsewhere on the computer.

Mismatched RAM

It has been reported that using different types of RAM, such as DDR266 and DDR400 RAM, can cause a computer not to shut down. It is always best to install only the same type of RAM modules, preferably made by the same manufacturer.

STOP error messages

Section 3. further down this page called Windows XP produces a STOP error message at shutdown deals with how to troubleshoot such messages, which are often produced by hardware problems.


2. - Windows XP shutdown is very slow

Some users have reported that it takes a minute or longer for shutdown to start. Usually software is running when shutdown is initiated and Windows has to close it down, but the cause may have something to do with particular hardware.

If you experience this problem, close all running programs in the System Tray (Notification Area) and in the Windows Task Manager that you bring up with the Ctrl+Alt+Del key combination, before attempting shutdown to find out if doing so solves the problem. If it does, then, by trial and error, you can find out which of the programs are involved.

The services that Windows XP runs can be the cause of a slow shutdown. Those services are both Windows services and services being run by third-party programs. If you want to view the services being run by third-party software, enter msconfig in the Start => Run box and click on the Services tab. A list of all of the services is provided. Place a check mark in the box called Hide All Microsoft Services. If you don't recognise any of the software, you can disable those services by removing the check mark beside them to find out if doing so fixes any particular problem. There is also a box that allows you to disable all of the services.

Some users have reported that disabling the Terminal Services service have reduced a shutdown time from over two minutes that hangs when the "Windows is shutting down" message appears, down to around the normal ten seconds.

To disable Terminal Services - or any of the other services that Windows XP runs - enter services.msc in the Start => Run box. The Services window comes up. To disable Terminal Services, find it in the list of services. Disable it by right-clicking on it, then click Properties. Under the General tab under the Startup Type heading select the Disabled option. The other available options are Manual and Automatic.

Note that Windows XP requires Terminal Services in order to run Remote Assistance, Fast User Switching, and - in Windows XP Professional - Remote Desktop.

The Event Log can also slow down Windows XP's shutdown. Disabling event logging fixes the problem, but then you have to find out, by trial and error, which of the items that are being logged is causing the slow shutdown. The Event Log appears in the Services window and is disabled in the same way as any other service.

Windows XP shutdown is incredibly slow...

If your computer shuts down extremely slowly in this kind of manner: "...every time I click the start menu button and then the shutdown button my computer takes like 5-10 minutes before the screen dims and I get the "standby, shutdown, restart" menu. Then it takes several more minutes before I get the blue "windows is shutting down" screen and then a few more minutes before it actually turns off," you might also find that you can't use Microsoft Update, which used to be called Windows Update. If either or both of those symptoms are evident, click here! to read a useful thread on a computer forum that provides a remedy for the problem.

For an example of a very slow shutdown, read the Q&A on this site called: Shutdown my Windows XP PC takes up to 30 minutes and the task bar and icons have vanished.


3. - Windows XP produces a STOP error message at shutdown

Windows XP can produce what is called a Stop Message that informs the user why the computer has failed to shut down, restarted, or has actually stopped working.

Most Stop Messages are produced because of hardware or software problems, or by a problem caused by one of the many services that Windows XP runs (enter services.msc in the Start => Run box to see a list of them).

For example, the following error message might appear on a blue screen at shutdown: STOP 0x000000D1, (0x0000002b, 0x00000002, 0x00000000, 0xEEEE1b01) IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL Kbdclass.sys.

It applies to a Logitech mouse that is using an outdated device driver, the solution to which is to update the Logitech MouseWare software. The problem is dealt with in this MS Knowledge Base article: http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=810980

Here is another appropriate Stop Message that is dealt with in an MS Knowledge Base article: STOP 0x000000D1 Error Message When You Turn Your Computer Off. STOP 0x000000D1 appears in the message discussed in that article, but all Stop Messages are similarly identified. Here is another one: STOP 0x00000027 PDR_File_System. You can enter every Stop Message's identifyier in a search engine or enter it in the Search box at microsoft.com to find out more about it; hopefully enough to enable you to put the matter right.

Note that the word minidump which often accompanies these Stop Message errors. This means that Windows XP has dumped information in RAM memory that can be used for diagnostic purposes if the user allows it to be sent back to Microsoft if requested to do so. The fact that a memory minidump occurred has no bearing on the problem at all. It is the name of the message and its 8-digit number that can help you to determine what the actual cause of the error is. Instances in which messages containing the word minidump are very rare, but I have included this information so that you know what they are about should you encounter one.

Here are some pages on Microsoft's site that deal with Stop Messages:

Troubleshooting Stop Messages: General Strategies

Troubleshooting Specific Stop Messages

MSDN[very extensive] List of Win XP STOP Messages


4. - My Windows XP Professional PC reboots whenever I try to go into Standby

Problem

My Dell Dimension 8400 desktop PC has suddenly developed a fault. It reboots when I click on the Standby icon that presents itself in a window with the Turn Off and Restart icons when I click Start => Turn Off Computer. I have no idea how to fix it or even if it can be fixed.

Answer

Standby and Resume problems are not as common as they used to be. They are most commonly caused by device driver or firmware issues and by incompatible hardware. Each device, internal or external, cannot work without a software device driver that is installed by Windows. Some devices, such as an external router, and internal devices such as an optical DVD drive have what is known as firmware, which is software that is installed into a chip in the device that makes it function. Both drivers and firmware can be updated if updates are available.

You should therefore visit Dell's site and download the latest drivers. To do that, visit dell.com. If you live in the US, the dell.com site will come up, but it will relocate to the EU site if you live in the UK. Enter Dimension 8400 in the search box. You should find a drivers link that will go to a page listing all of the devices in the 8400 that have drivers. If you have a no-brand-name PC, you can go there to get an idea of the drivers to update and then use the free Belarc Advisor from belarc.com to identify the makes of the devices in your PC. You can then visit the manufacturers' sites, which you can find by making use of a web search engine.

The following action might result in pinpointing which drivers to update. Click the Start button, right-click My Computer, click Properties in the menu that comes up, and click the Hardware tab. Open the Device Manager and click on the + beside Computer. There should be an entry for Automatic Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI). If it is not there or Automatic Power Management (APM) is, the correct drivers for the PC's motherboard probably have not been installed. You should be able to obtain them from the website of the motherboard's or its chipset's manufacturer. You should also make sure that the latest drivers for the PC's graphics card are installed, because they are a common cause of standby problems. You may have to install the latest version of DirectX from http://support.microsoft.com/ before you install the latest drivers.

If updating the drivers doesn't fix the problem, click the Start button, right-click My Computer, click Properties in the menu that comes up, click the Advanced tab and click the Startup and Recovery Settings button. If the box beside Automatically restart is ticked remove the tick with your mouse. Doing that will prevent Windows from restarting before you can see the error message that should come up whenever you click on the Standby icon. That error message should tell you the name of the source (file/module) of the problem. If you know the source, you can conduct a search for information on the problem on the web or on http://support.microsoft.com/.

The Event Viewer's log may be able to supply some diagnostic information. Enter eventvwr in the Start => Run box and look in System for a warning from TCP/IP that the network adapter has disconnected and reconnected.

If the problem still exists, try disconnecting all of the nonessential devices/peripherals (router, printers, external drives, etc.) one at a time to find out if it is the cause. Removing an incompatible device will fix the problem. You can then find out if that device has a driver update that might allow you to reconnect it without causing the problem.


How to troubleshoot PC startup problems - Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7

The following is a list of the most common situations that were found to be the causes of startup problems when a computer running any version of Windows won't start up, or starts up properly randomly after the user has gone through a routine that involves using the reset button, switching off the on/off switch on the power supply, smacking the case, etc.

1. A loose screw in the case was found to have been rolling around in the case. If it came to rest so that it was shorting the motherboard, the computer would fail to boot. If it came to rest where it wasn't shorting anything, the computer would boot properly. Hence the random startups.

2. - The power supply was failing. Installing a new power supply unit solved the problem.

3. - There were some blown of faulty capacitors on the motherboard that were found to be bloated and/or leaking. The capacitors are the tin-can shaped components that stick up from the surface of the motherboard. Bloated and blown capacitors are usually caused by cheap power supplies (PSUs), or by a faulty manufacturing process. A few years ago, there was a spate of faulty capacitors used in motherboards when materials of poor quality was used in their manufacture. The capacitors store an electrical charge and are used to stabilise the power supply to the motherboard. Faulty or blown capacitors can cause RAM memory corruption and system lockups. Replacing the motherboard and/or the power supply fixed the problem.

Click here! to go to information on power supplies on this website.

Note that Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 will almost certainly have to be reactivated over the telephone to Microsoft if the computer's motherboard is replaced. Read the Windows Product Activation page on this site for more information on WPA.

4. - The fan of the processor's cooling unit was working intermittently. On the occasions when the fan wasn't working at startup, the temperature of the processor rose very quickly to the point where the overheating protection circuitry built into the motherboard would switch the computer off. If the faulty fan was working at startup, the computer would start up properly. Replacing the cooling unit fixed the problem.

5. - The hard disk drive was found to be failing. It was locking up while the operating system was loading. The computer could be started up with the Windows CD, because only the RAM memory was involved in the boot process. But when any attempt was made to repair Windows, errors made by the failing hard drive usually resulted in the attempt having to be aborted. Replacing the hard drive and restoring a master image or backup of the system fixed the problem.

You can use the hard-drive utility that Windows provides (ScanDisk in Windows 95/98/Me and chkdsk in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7, but most of the hard-disk-drive manufacturers (Seagate, Toshiba, Western Digital, etc.) provide a better diagnostic utility that can be used to diagnose problems with their drives from their websites. These utilities might also be able to partition and format a hard disk drive, which is a godsend if you're using Windows 9.x with a drive(s) larger than 64GB, because the DOS FDISK utility has problems with drives of that size and larger - even if you're using the updated version. Click here! to read more about FDISK on this page. Use your browser's Back button to return here.

Note well that if such a utility is used on a faulty system (suffering from faulty RAM, an inadequate power supply unit, a faulty motherboard, etc.) it could produce unreliable results.

6. - Faulty RAM memory can be the cause of similar lockup problems, making Windows produce all kinds of error messages that usually point everywhere except to faulty RAM. If there are two memory DIMM modules fitted to the motherboard, try using only one of them at a time in order to determine if only one of them is faulty. To do that involves opening the case and removing one of the DIMM modules. Consult the motherboard's manual to make sure that you are installing the only module in the correct DIMM slot. Some motherboards allow any slot to be used, but others require a single module to be installed in the first slot. The illustrated manual will provide you with the required information. If you don't have a manual, a copy should be available as a download from its manufacturer's website.

You can run software diagnostic tests on the RAM by using Memtest from http://www.memtest86.com/ or by using Microsoft's utility from http://oca.microsoft.com/en/windiag.asp.

7. - The video/graphics card was found to be loose in its socket or not all the way in the socket. As a result the computer starts up but there is no display on the monitor. Removing the video card and seating it properly in its slot fixed the problem. Note that sometimes if the video card is screwed in too tightly to its slot, the end can be raised out of the slot.

8. - The BIOS settings enabled for the processor were found to be incorrect, or the BIOS settings for the processor's clock multiplier or the Front Side Bus (FSB) overclocked the motherboard to a level that prevented it from allowing the computer to boot. Entering the BIOS at at startup and enabling the fail-safe or default settings options usually fixes the problem. See the BIOS page on this site for more information on it.

****

The first action to take to solve a startup proplem is to open the PC's case. You should do that on a clear desk with the computer switched off but still connected to the mains outlet, which is also switched off. Under those conditions the computer is earthed. Before touching any of the components earth yourself by touching the case. Remove the RAM modules and adapter cards. If the gold contacts are oxidised and therefore look dull, use a pencil eraser to clean them.

Note that you have to be careful not to rub too hard or you may remove the metal of the contacts as well. Clean the contacts gently or make use of a cleaning solution that you can purchase from electronics stores.

You can use kontak cleaner as the search query in a search engine to find the best cleaning solution.

It's also a good idea to buy a can of compressed air from a computer store that is used to blow dust out of the processor and case fans and out of the power supply. A vacuum cleaner should not be used because of the danger of static electricity, which can be fatal to electronic components.

If you can't find out the cause of the problem yourself from the information provided above, the best course of action would be to take the computer's base unit to a computer repair shop that has a good reputation. Take care never to allow cowboy operators anywhere near your computer, because you could pay one a small fortune and still wind up with a faulty PC.

Click the following link to go to a Q&A on this site that covers a common startup problem: My computer has failed to start up, its power LED, case and processor fans, and the reset button don't work. Is this caused by a motherboard failure?


At startup the Windows XP logon screen does not appear and the computer continuously restarts

The problem can occur in Windows XP Home and Professional Editions.

"SYMPTOMS: When you start your computer, the Microsoft Windows XP startup screen appears, and then the computer may restart. The Windows XP logon screen does not appear.

"CAUSE: This issue may occur if the Kernel32.dll file is missing or damaged.

"RESOLUTION: To resolve this issue, use the Windows Recovery Console to extract a new copy of the Kernel32.dll file from the original Windows XP CD."

Click on the following link to a MS Knowledge Base article to find out how to do use the Recovery Console to do that:

Windows XP logon screen does not appear and the computer continuously restarts - http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=310396.


How to use the Bootcfg /Rebuild command in the Recovery Console to recover from "Missing or corrupt HAL.DLL," "Invalid Boot.Ini," or "Windows could not start..." startup error messages

You have to know how to use the Recovery Console in order to use this method of recovering Windows XP from startup problems. Click here! to go to information on this site on the Recovery Console if you don't know how to use it.

If Windows XP issues "Missing or corrupt HAL.DLL," "Invalid Boot.Ini," or "Windows could not start..." error messages at startup, you can use the Bootcfg /Rebuild to rebuild and recover the system.

The five steps involved are as follows:

1. - Boot from the Windows XP Setup CD and enter the Recovery Console. When the setup program runs, you will have the option to Press R to start the Recovery Console. If you are using a Windows XP SP1 CD and the system has been updated to Windows XP SP2, you should use a "slipstreamed" CD that incorporates SP2 so that outdated SP1 files are not used on an SP2 system. Click here! to go to the information on this website on how to create a slipstreamed Windows XP CD from an earlier installation disc so that it is fully updated with the latest service pack(s). The same applies if you are using a Windows XP SP2 installation disc and the system has been updated to SP3. You must not use an installation CD of an earlier version of Windows XP to repair a later version installed on a computer, because the earlier CD has old files that should not replace newer versions of those files.

2. - Enter the command Attrib -H -R -S" C:\boot.ini to remove the Hidden, Read-only, and System file attributes so that it can be located, because it is a hidden system file by default. When the recovery process is complete, for security reasons, you should reverse the boot.ini file's attributes to hide it again by using the Attrib +H +R +S" C:\boot.ini command from the command prompt. (Enter Attrib /? at the command prompt to bring up information on the switches available for it.) You can also do that from within Windows by right-clicking on the boot.ini file and then clicking Properties in the menu that come up. You just have to place check marks with your mouse in the relevant boxes.

3. - Delete the C:\boot.ini file by using the del c:\boot.ini command. Don't worry about doing that. The file will be rebuilt by the rebuilding process.

4. - Enter the Bootcfg /Rebuild command at the command prompt. Assume that the information that is presented is correct and enter Y for yes.

You should be asked to Enter Load Identifier, which is the name of the operating system that will appear in boot menus. Depending on the version of Windows being used, enter Microsoft Windows XP Professional or Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition. Next you have to Enter OS Load Options. For normal installations, enter /Fastdetect.

5. - Enter the Fixboot command. This writes a new partition boot sector to the boot drive, which simplifies the boot process and gives the system the best chance of making a successful recovery. Enter Exit to quit the Recovery Console and reboot the computer, which should then restart normally.


What to do if Windows XP won't boot and you don't have an XP installation CD and you don't want to use the Recovery CD provided by the PC's manufacturer

If your brand-name PC comes with a Recovery CD instead of a Windows XP installation CD, you won't be able to use features that require the Windows XP CD, such as the repair installation. However, if using a Recovery CD restores the PC to the state it was in when it left the factory, you may not want to use it if doing so destroys all of the data files and programs you've installed since you started using it. You'll be glad to know that there are ways of recovering the system if if won't boot and you don't have an installation CD. The following information addresses this problem.

If necessary, visit the Recovering Windows XP page on this site for information on the chkdsk utility and the Recovery Console that are mentioned in the Q&A.

WINDOWS WON'T BOOT

Find out how to get Windows up and running if you don't want to use the System Recovery option and you don't have the Windows CD to hand

Q. When I switch on my PC, I get the DOS message: "Invalid Boot.ini file booting from C:\ Windows. Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: windows\System32\Hal.dll. Please reinstall a copy of the above file."

I have rebooted and attempted to use the F10 System Recovery option, but do not want to select the entire System Recovery option as I understand this will wipe my hard disk and take me back to the factory installation. I have found many potentially useful guides on sorting out the Boot.ini file, but they say I need the Windows XP CD, which I don't have.

A. Even though you have received invalid Boot.ini and missing Hal.dll errors, this does not necessarily mean the Hal.dll file is corrupted or missing. It may just mean the loader is unable to find it. This can occur if the Boot.ini file is missing or invalid, if Windows XP is not installed in the location specified in the Boot.ini file, if the Ntoskrnl.exe file is missing or damaged, or if there has been a hardware failure such as a bad sector on the hard disk.

FIRST STEPS

If your PC has a floppy drive, you can create a boot floppy that may bypass the corrupted file. On another working Windows XP system, open My Computer, right-click on the floppy drive icon and choose Format. Accept the default Options. Once formatting is complete, copy the Boot.ini, ntldr and ntdetect.com files from the root directory of the hard disk to the floppy. Select the options to view hidden and system files, as described below.

Verify that the Boot.ini file contains the correct lines. It is a text file so can be viewed in Notepad. If you place the floppy disk into the non-booting computer and power up the PC, it will start booting from the floppy drive. After it reads the Boot.ini file you have placed on the floppy, it will switch to booting from the Windows folder of the specified hard disk. This may not work, but is a fairly quick fix to try and it also confirms that this Boot.ini file is OK. If the PC doesn't boot from the floppy disk, check your BIOS to ensure that the floppy drive is the first in the list of bootable devices.

Hard disk damage is a common cause of this type of error. If you have access to another desktop computer, you should move your hard disk [drive] to that system and back up all your data. Run Chkdsk with the Thorough option enabled to scan the drive for errors. Once you have ruled out any hard disk errors or corruption of the file system that may prevent the loader finding the Windows\System32 folder, you can look for other problems.

CHECKING BOOT.lNI

Using Windows Explorer, check in Tools, Folder Options that you have 'Show hidden files and folders' enabled and verify that you have files Boot.ini, ntldr and ntdetect.com in the root directory of your boot drive, which will usually be drive C:. Boot.ini should contain the following lines, or similar:

[boot loader]

timeout=30

default=multi(0)disk

multi(0)disk (0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS

[operating systems]

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition

(1)\WINDOWS="XP Home" /fastdetect

These lines will be correct if Windows is located in the Windows folder of the first partition on the PC's only hard disk. The text after the equals sign can contain anything and will be displayed if you have more than one operating system listed. The default= entry should be the same as the first part of the line under [operating sytemsJ - in this case:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition

(1) \WINDOWS

If your computer has a recovery partition, the main Windows partition might be the second partition. However, most manufacturers deliberately make the recovery partition the second entry in the partition table to avoid this complication. For more complex situations, we suggest using the BootCFG tool or recovery console to create the proper entry as below.

WRONG FILE LOCATIONS

If the root directory contains the Boot.ini, ntldr and ntdetect.com files, check the name of the folder where the operating system is stored. This is usually called Windows, but some manufacturers name it WinNT, which is also the default location for Windows 2000.

It could be that a power surge occurred when writing to the hard disk. This could cause nonsense values to have been written to part of the Windows folder directory index. This prevents access to files and folders beyond that point in the directory. Chkdsk corrects this but may place any inaccessible files and folders it finds in a new folder. You need to move these recovered files to their original locations, if you can figure out where they go.

The NT loader expects to find a folder called System32 inside the operating system's folder. This will usually be called C\Windows\System32 and will contain lots of files. The most important files are Ntoskrnl.exe and Hal.dll (HAL stands for Hardware Abstraction Layer). Hal.dll is modified for your system when Windows is first installed and relates specifically to your system hardware. If Hal.dll is missing, look for a copy in the DLLCache folder. If it's not there, and assuming your system disk is drive C, try to extract the copy in your recovery partition with the command:

expand d:\i386\hal.dl_ c:\windows\ system32\hal.dll

[Where D: is the recovery partition, which may have a different letter on your PC. You enter the command at the command prompt, which you can bring up by entering cmd in the Start -> Run box.]

Provided you have at least [Windows XP] Service Pack 1 installed, there may be a copy of Hal.dll in the C\ Windows\ServicePackFiles\i386 folder. This won't be customised for your system, but it should enable you to boot.

USING BOOTCFG

The Recovery Console has some useful tools to repair problems, although it provides a stark, DOS-style command prompt and so is probably something only advanced users will want to use. If you can borrow a Windows CD, you can boot from it to run Recovery Console by pressing R at the first boot prompt. Alternatively, some manufacturers - including Compaq - have added Recovery Console to the options on their Recovery menu, which is reached by pressing F10 or F12 at startup.

If neither of the above is available and you have a floppy drive, you can download a set of Windows XP Setup floppy disks from Microsoft and run the Recovery Console from them. Search for 'XP Setup disks' at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads. Once the Recovery Console is running, select the Windows installation you want and type the administrator password when prompted. This won't be your usual password; it was created when Windows was first installed. If you didn't set an administrator password, just press Enter. When you get to the command prompt, type:

Fixboot [press the Enter key]

bootcfg /rebuild [press the Enter key]

This will search for the location of Windows. If it gives a correct location, add it to the list of available operating systems. When asked for Load Identifier, type in a description, which can be anything you want. The OS Load option should be set to /fastdetect.

When you restart the PC, you should see a boot options menu. One of the options will be the settings that didn't work before. You'll also see the one you just created. After Windows XP has successfully loaded, the Boot.ini can be edited to remove the incorrect entry.

For advanced instructions on editing Boot.ini see -

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=289022.


My PC reboots by itself and warnings have appeared asking me to run Chkdsk, the Windows XP hard-disk-drive diagnostic utility

Problem

My desktop PC sometimes reboots of its own accord. Recently, at startup, dire warnings appeared asking me to run Chkdsk with a surface scan. It has quality components - a 350W power supply from quietpc.com, an Asus A7NX8 Deluxe motherboard and an AMD Athlon XP 3200+ processor. It seems to be getting worse with time. I have tested the AC mains power cable with a continuity meter, and removed and reseated the memory modules, the hard-disk-drive power connector and connection to the motherboard. The hard drive is a Samsung SP1213N, so I tested it with Samsung's hard-drive diagnostic utility, which reported no problems. The surface scan performed by Chkdsk was successful. I have also removed and replaced the silicone heatsink compound between the processor and the cooling unit.

Answer

It is advisable to begin by removing all of the removable components connected to the motherboard (memory modules, modem, video, sound, network cards, etc.) so that you can clean their contact points and then reseat them. You should also inspect the motherboard's capacitors, which are the large cylindrical objects wired to it, for any signs of bulging or leakage. The capacitors regulate the power supply to components such as the memory modules. If one or more of them are failing or failed, voltage drops can occur that make the computer reboot.

Spontaneous reboots can also be caused by software, such as a corrupt or bad device driver. To make sure that this is not the case, try booting the system from a CD/DVD with its own bootable operating system. To boot the system from a CD means having the CD/DVD drive set as the first boot device in the BIOS. You cold try using the free Knoppix Linux from knoppix.com. It would be best to buy a cheap, ready-made bootable CD, because the download of the ISO file that you download and burn to a CD/DVD using the "Burn a disc image" option of CD/DVD burning software, such as Nero, is a huge 697MB download.

Many brand-name PCs, including most Dell PCs, come with built-in diagnostics that bypass Windows. A particular brand-name PC's diagnostic software can also be provided on a CD.

The Ultimate Boot CD from ultimatebootcd.com contains several diagnostic programs and is self-booting.

It could be difficult to determine the cause of the rebooting if the computer only reboots once a day. In any case, if you have the Ultimate Boot CD, run its memory tester. You might have to leave it running all day or longer to find out if the reboots were caused by hardware. Just remember to set the CD/DVD drive to the first boot device in the BIOS so that the system boots from the CD that you created. If necessary, visit the BIOS section of this site for information on how to do that.

If your computer reboots while running any of these options, you then know that the problem is hardware-related, not software-related. If the computer runs utilities without rebooting, then the problem is being caused in Windows by software, such as a bad device driver. If the cause is a bad driver, it could be fixed by downloading an installing the latest drivers for all of computer's devices from their manufacturer's sites. Some computers provide live driver updates. For example, laptop or desktop computers that are made by MSI, or which have an MSI motherboard, have the MSI Live Update feature that scans the system for updates and allows you to choose which drivers to install. You run the utility while online. It shows the version that is installed and the online version. If the online version has a higher number, an update is available that you should install. You can also make use of Microsoft Update, which provides Windows updates and third-party drivers, and and the free Belarc Advisor from belarc.com, which can be used to identify the hardware (and software) installed on a computer.

How to download updates and drivers from the Windows Update Catalog -

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/323166

Many of the methods of recovering Windows XP dealt with on the Recovering Windows XP section of this site, including System Restore, a repair installation of XP, and the Recovery Console, can be used to fix software-related problems.

If one or more reboots occurs while the alternative operating system is running, you have to look for a hardware cause. If the power cable that connects the computer to the mains supply is old, replacing it may fix the problem. The connector that fits into the back of the computer can often be loose-fitting and not make good contact. Moreover, the fuse holder that holder a fuse in the 13A plugs used in the UK can be the source of another improper connection.

Since Windows was insisting on performing a surface scan on the hard disk drive, it could not read or write to a particular area or areas of the drive. During the scan, it marks any unusable clusters as bad so that the system won't use them. It also attempts to move data from them. The Event Viewer logs should provide useful details. You can bring it up by entering eventvwr.msc in the Start => Run box.

You can use the MHDD utility on the Ultimate Boot CD to check the hard drive for intermittent lockups that Chkdsk or the drive manufacturer's diagnostic utility didn't detect. (You can also download MHDD as a free diagnostic utility from hddguru.com.)

However, note that it is possible but rare for a hard-drive problem to cause a computer to reboot; such a problem is far more likely to cause a computer to lock up. It is far more likely that faulty memory or a faulty motherboard or processor has created a corrupt command that has been sent to the hard disk drive, thereby creating an apparent but not actual disk error that is causing the computer to reboot.

The computer is getting into its old age, so a hardware problem of some sort is not unlikely. If the problem is being caused by a faulty power supply, motherboard, processor, or memory, the only way for a home user to find out which component is responsible is to take the computer's base unit to a reputable computer repair shop, or swap those components with known good ones until the culprit is discovered.


My PC constantly reboots 10 to 20 minutes after being switched on

Problem

I have a problem with my desktop PC (Windows XP, AMD Athlon 1700+, 256MB of RAM, 80GB hard disk drive, CD/DVD writer) and I hope that you can tell me why it reboots 10 to 20 minutes after it has been switched on. I've changed the RAM memory and reformatted the hard drive, but without success. Could this be a hardware issue? Please list all of the possible causes of this problem and all of the possible solutions.

Answer

The following two links provide comprehensive cover of PC rebooting problems of that kind:

Windows XP Shut Down and Automatic Reboot Problems -

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/helpandsupport/learnmore/...

System Continually Reboots - http://www.5starsupport.com/xp-faq/1-92.htm

You have changed the RAM, but it is important that any new RAM module(s) are fully compatible with both the motherboard and/or any other RAM module(s) already installed in the system (new RAM could also be bad). Your PC is elderly so note that there can be jumpers on older motherboards that need to be set for specific RAM configurations. Consult your motherboard's manual (downloadable in the PDF format from its manufacture's site for your PC's make/model of motherboard), or the manufacturer's website for specific instructions and compatibility requirements.

If you don't know the make and model of the motherboard installed in your computer, here is a good free utility - Belarc Advisor - that creates an analysis of the hardware and software on a personal computer. Look under FREE DOWNLOAD at belarc.com. Another utility that also provides detailed information on the memory itself is CPU-Z from cpuid.com.

It is advisable to use a good memory-test program to check your new and old RAM. Here are two:

http://hcidesign.com/memtest/ and http://www.memtest86.com/

You can use the UK and US Crucial Memory Advisors provided in the middle of this page to determine the correct RAM and capacity for your specific make and model computer and/or motherboard.

The PC's motherboard could have developed faults. For instance, malfunctioning capacitors on a motherboard can be responsible for a wide range of issues. It is possible for capacitors to fail due to a bad power source. If you see one or more capacitors (the cylindrical components that are soldered to and stick up from the motherboard) that are leaking substances, you have to replace the motherboard.

Some motherboard manufactures provide fault-testing software, so conduct a search of your PC's motherboard manufacturer's site for free software.

Find out if your PC is overheating with this free utility:

Motherboard Monitor -

http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file_description/0,fid,7309,00.asp.

System Continually Reboots - http://www.5starsupport.com/xp-faq/1-92.htm - provides information on overheating (cleaning the PC internally) and what to do to find out if the PC's power supply is bad.


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