Shutdown is very slow - Windows XP

Published : June 27, 2004


When you shutdown your Windows XP computer, it may take more time to complete the shutdown process. Slow shutdowns are caused by a number of factors. One of the common cause is the Clear Pagefile at Shutdown option enabled.

Virtual memory support uses a system pagefile to swap pages of memory to disk when they are not used. On a running system, this pagefile is opened exclusively by the operating system, and it is well protected. However, systems that are configured to allow booting to other operating systems might have to make sure that the system pagefile is wiped clean when this system shuts down. This ensures that sensitive information from process memory that might go into the pagefile is not available to an unauthorized user who manages to directly access the pagefile.

When this option is enabled, it causes the system pagefile to be cleared upon clean shutdown. This takes considerable time of the Operating System to flush-out the pagefile, thus causing the slow shutdown. You may disable ClearPageFileAtShutdown option to improve shutdown times. But the pagefile.sys will be intact and accessible via other Operating System, in case or dual or multi-boot.

Some points to improve the shutdown times

Start Registry Editor and navigate to the following key:

[HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management]

Set ClearPageFileAtShutdown value to 0

Or, using Group Policy Editor [for Windows XP Professional]

Click Start, Run and type Secpol.msc
Click Local Policies | Security Options
In the right-pane, set Shutdown: Clear virtual memory pagefile to Disabled

However, this setting is not the only cause for slow shutdowns. Non-responsive programs and Services also contribute to slow shutdowns. If the problem is seen recently after installing a third-party driver or software, try a System Restore rollback to see if that resolves the slow shutdown problem.

Other checkpoints

Try a clean-boot troubleshooting. Clean-boot troubleshooting is designed to isolate a performance problem. To perform clean-boot troubleshooting, you must take a number of actions, and then restart the computer after each action (to test whether the action resolved the problem). These two articles will help you isolate the problem.

How to perform a clean boot in Windows XP

How to perform advanced clean-boot troubleshooting in Windows XP

How to manage Windows Startup?

Fig: Disabling the third-party Services using MSCONFIG

Check the Event Logs for any errors and track-down the software/driver causing the problem. View the error messages registered in Event Log

You may be having profile unload problems if you experience slow logoff (with Saving Settings for most of the time while logging off). UPHClean is a service that once and for all gets rid of problems with user profile not unloading. See User Profile Hive Cleanup tool's Readme.txt before installing it.