Why does my machine take forever to shut down?
Start, turn off computer … and wait.
At least, that’s what it seems like in many cases. We hear a lot about delays in booting the computer or slow downs when running various applications, but how about when it’s time to go? How do we get the machine to shut down now without just pulling the plug?
As always, there are many possible reasons for a slowdown so we’ll take a look at the most common.
It’s important to realize that shutting down the computer is almost as complex a process as starting it up. Once you tell Windows that you want to shut down, it in turn asks (yes, asks) each currently program if shutting down is OK. After each program has been asked, each program is then told that Windows is shutting down.
Why this seemingly complex chain of events? Naturally, it’s a feature! If you have unsaved edits in your word processor, then you want Windows to pause so that it has a chance to save those edits or ask you what to do. Some applications need to be in a certain state before powering down, so they’re given the opportunity to say no to abort the shut down.
So, it’s easy to see that shut down speed is at the mercy of every piece of software you have running when you shut down. Each has to be asked and each has the opportunity to perform some work, perhaps even time consuming work, before Windows shuts down. In the worst case scenario, they can pause the shut down process completely as they ask you things like, “Do you want to save this file first?”
As a result, I rarely “just” shutdown Windows. I close each application I’m running (or at least the “big” ones) first.
What about all that software that’s running that you didn’t start? Of particular note are the applications that started automatically; instant messaging applications, real-time virus checkers, and so on. They also have the opportunity to take time to clean up before shutting down. Check out this prior article, What’s all this stuff running after I boot Windows? for help in identifying and possibly removing some of the items that slow down your start up as well as your shut down.
Another common cause for shut down slow downs is the network. There are various types of network connections, from files being shared across a LAN, to instant messaging conversations in progress, with many more in between. Each connection needs to be individually closed on system shut down. In many cases, that means that whatever you’re connected to needs to be informed that you’re no longer connected. If the remote side is slow or non-responsive, that can contribute to how long Windows takes to close that connection on shut down.
There are certainly hardware problems that can result in slow downs on shut down. More commonly there are conflicts or issues with the device drivers – the software used to control the hardware – that cause shut down problems. Actual hardware issues more commonly cause problems at other times as well.
Make sure your drivers are up to date. Conversely, if you start experiencing a problem after updating a device driver, then it’d make sense to check with the manufacturer.
Finally, there’s the issue of viruses and spyware. They can certainly wreak havoc in many ways not limited to shut down. Most cause problems at other times, but have been known to affect shut down as well. Check out the prior article How do I keep my computer safe on the internet? for some tips on keeping them off your
Typically, each situation is a little different. These guidelines should allow you to narrow down the causes of your slow down and eventually fix it.