Network Productivity Group

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The tip...

Before diverting off to backup schemes we had started to talk about blue screens, shutdown and startup problems.  We had talked about blue screens and the basic approaches to troubleshooting them.  Shutdown is very similar with a couple of added elements. 

Not shutting down properly is usually caused by one of these things:  a blue screen (in which case, fix that problem first, refer to Tech tip #26), a driver conflict (same as #26 again), a conflict among hardware devices, or a conflict between Windows and your system's "BIOS". 

The first step to troubleshooting shut down problems is to boot to Safe Mode.  If you don't know how to do that, this might be a good time to test the "Hey, How Do I?" link.  While this is a pretty simple test, see if you machine will shut down normally from Safe Mode.  If it won't, skip down to the paragraph that shows an Internet link to Microsoft.  If it will, then refer to Tech tip #26 and using MSCONFIG, start Windows using CONFIG.SYS, AUTOEXEC.BAT, SYSTEM.INI, WIN.INI but not using any of the items in Startup.  If you can now shut down the problem is a conflict among two or more of those items.  Try putting half of them back, then another half, etc., until shutdown fails.  The cause is in the last you group you added.  Selectively try booting with and without items in that group until you can shutdown.  Note that if you take the Advanced tab in MSCONFIG you can turn off running Scandisk after every bad shutdown.  Just remember to reset that when you are done and run Scandisk when you have found and fixed the problem.  

Note to Windows 95 users:  You do not have MSCONFIG.  To mimic its capability you need to go to the Start Up Menu (hold down F8 while booting) and select "Selectively load Windows components" (I no longer have a 95 to check this on and am working from memory, I think that is what it says).  The first time through make a list of all the drivers that Windows loads and then load only half, then half of those, etc., until Windows shuts down normally.  You can turn off Scandisk by changing its setting in a file called "MSDOS.SYS".  It is hidden, a system file and read only so you may need some help with that (see "Hey, How Do I?" above).

If loading with no startup files does not solve the problem then go the next step, don't load WIN.INI, then SYSTEM.INI, then AUTOEXEC.BAT, then CONFIG.SYS.  If you can't shutdown then it means the problem is a conflict among your hardware devices.  The next step is to disable them until we find the bad guy. 

  Before doing this you must take a couple of precautionary steps.  Sometimes the devices will not "re-enable".  They will show up in a Safe Mode boot as "ghost devices".  So you must know how to get to a Safe Mode boot.  If you don't, stop.  If you get a ghost device you must remove and re-install it.  You must therefore know that you or Windows has the drivers for any device you remove.  Checking Windows is fairly simple.  Go to Control Panel>>Add New Hardware and step through the Wizard until you get to the screen that asks "Do you want Windows to search for your new hardware?"  Select "No, I want to select from a list".  If you are checking your modem as an example, then select you modem's manufacturer and then look for your exact model.  If you find it, you are set.  Check all your devices.   Disk drives and monitors are not too critical but you must check modems, network cards, graphics adapters, CDs, mice, sound cards and anything unique to your system.  If you cannot locate the drivers, stop.

  Once you are sure you can re-install any device you disable, then go to Device Manager (right click My Computer, then left click Properties, then select the tab "Device Manager".  Select each device you can run without (you need only your hard drive, keyboard and display; if you don't know your way around Windows "mouseless" then don't disable it either), select Properties and then "Disable in this profile".  When you have disabled each device, test shutting down.  If you can, the problem is one of the devices you disabled.  Re-enable half of them and test again, etc., etc., until you find the offending device.

  There are still two possible culprits: your display adapter and your mouse (unless you know how to run without a mouse and disabled it above).  If you can find the web sites of your display adapter and mouse manufacturer or system manufacturer, try downloading and installing the latest drivers for both.

  If you computer will still not shut down there is probably a conflict between Windows and your system "BIOS".  Try this link for help: 

  (Note: the program that we use to distribute these tips does not always treat links like the one above as links.  If is not an active link you can still cut and paste it into you browser's address bar.)

  If you are still having problems, try what I do with my laptop.  It has an IRQ Steering for PCI Bus BIOS conflict with Windows 98.  The manufacturer is defunct and I cannot find the motherboard manufacturer either.  I don't shut it down, I tell it to restart.  When it gets to that "bare BIOS" screen, that ugly black and white screen you get when you first power on, I turn it off.  It re-starts just like it had been properly shut down!


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