Windows XP: Fix Startup / Shutdown Problems

Sundry causes of a shutdown or powerdown problem

If you suspect that a particular device or software is causing the problem search the web for relevant information about it. Here is an example. The Logitech Y-SB3 Internet Keyboard can 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 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 to 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 in this article on issues that have been fixed by SP2 (which incorporates the changes made in SP1), because every Windows XP user should have updated to SP3 by now. Remember that Microsoft ended all support for WinXP in June 2014.


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.


 Upgrade/reflash the BIOS as a fix for a problem

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.

Note that only Windows 8.0/8.1 laptop and desktop PCs use the new UEFI BIOS; Windows XP can only use a standard BIOS.

Visit the BIOS section 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. You can also set what happens when the laptop’s lid is closed or the sleep button is pressed.

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. Click on the article’s KB number if any of them describes your particular problem.

308029 – Advanced troubleshooting for shutdown problems in Windows XP

311806 – Windows XP Restarts When You Try to Shut Down Your Computer

313290 – Your computer stops responding when you try to shut down in Windows XP

315664 – Computer Does Not Shut Down Properly if Selective Suspend Is Enabled [with USB keyboard or mouse]

322625 – Remote Shut Down of Client Computer Fails

816938 – “Device Not Ready” Error Message When You Try to Shut Down a Windows XP Workstation Remotely [Applies to Windows XP Professional]

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.

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 if none of the other possible causes are responsible. If the motherboard only has a 20-pin power-supply connector, make sure that you don’t buy a replacement that only provides the new 24-pin power-supply connector.

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

3. – I have 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 – manually or by applying an automatic  patch.

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. 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:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/282599

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.

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