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Windows 95 Professional

A Publication of The Cobb Group

Published June 1997

Does one of your computers tend to hang during shutdown? If so, you may just turn off the power and dismiss the problem as a minor annoyance. However, powering off your machine before Windows 95 displays the message It's now safe to turn off your computer can have a negative impact on your system.

In this article, we'll explore the reasons the shutdown process may fail. We'll also provide a step-by-step method for troubleshooting this situation.

Shutdown failure may seem like a purely cosmetic problem, so you might be wondering why you should take the time to fix it. The reason is that snags in the shutdown process can have serious ramifications for your system. Because the cache may not have finished dumping its contents to disk, turning off the machine prematurely can lead to data corruption. Improper shutdowns can also cause your hard disk to slowly fill up, since Windows 95 may not get the chance to remove temporary files.

On This Page

Programs in the StartUp folder
Corrupt sound file
Bad device driver
Virtual device drivers
Commands in WIN.INI
Advanced power management
File system settings
Memory conflicts

Programs in the StartUp folder

Sometimes, a corrupt program in the StartUp folder can prevent your computer from shutting down properly. To find out if this is the case, create a new folder and move the contents of your StartUp folder into this new directory. Next, restart your computer and then try to shut it down. If the computer shuts down successfully, you can assume that you have a problem with one of the programs in the StartUp folder. To pinpoint the troublemaker, you should move the programs back into the StartUp folder one at a time. After replacing each one, restart your computer and immediately try to shut it down. If the shutdown process fails, you'll know that the last program you moved back into the StartUp folder is the one causing your problem.

To resolve this situation, you can permanently remove the program from the StartUp folder. However, this program may be critical to you or your users. In this case, we recommend reinstalling the program, since it may have a corrupt file. If none

of the programs in the StartUp folder are causing your system to hang during shutdown, you'll have to look elsewhere for the source of your problem. Let's take a look at some other possibilities.

Corrupt sound file

A damaged Exit Windows sound file can also cause your system to hang. To determine if this is your case, open Control Panel and double-click the Sounds icon. Next, click on Exit Windows in the Events list box, choose None in the Name dropdown list, and click OK.

Now try to shut down Windows 95. If the process is successful, your sound file may be damaged. You should replace the sound file with one that you know is functioning properly. By assigning a different sound file and trying to shut down your computer again, you'll find out if the original sound file is bad or if you've got a bad sound driver.

Bad device driver

A bad device driver is another possible reason for an unsuccessful shutdown. The culprit can be a sound driver, as we discussed in the previous section, or any other device driver, including those for a video card or a CD-ROM drive.

To test for a bad device driver, we'll create a test hardware profile for your system and then delete devices until we find the troublemaker. To begin, double-click the System icon in Control Panel and select the Hardware Profiles tab in the System Properties sheet. Next, select the hardware profile that you're currently using and click the CopyÉ button.

Windows 95 will now display the Copy Profile dialog box. Type Test Configuration in the To text box, as shown in Figure A , and click the OK button.

Figure A To test for a bad driver, create an alternate hardware profile called Test Configuration.


Now, choose the Device Manager tab to display a list of all your system's installed devices. Next, select a device and click the Remove button. Windows 95 will display the Confirm Device Removal dialog box, shown in Figure B.

Figure B Choose the Remove from specific configuration radio button and select

Test Configuration.


Choose the Remove from specific configuration radio button and then choose Test Configuration from the Configuration dropdown list. Finally, click OK to remove the device from your test hardware profile.

Now, restart your computer. When Windows 95 boots up and asks you which configuration you want to use, choose Test Configuration. Then, attempt a shutdown. Repeat this procedure, disabling one device at a time until the shutdown process is successful.

The last device you disabled before shutdown works properly is probably the one that's causing your problem. You may have a corrupt device driver, or a device that either isn't installed correctly or isn't working properly. Try reinstalling the problem device's driver. If that doesn't help, contact the manufacturer of the device to see if newer drivers are available.

Virtual device drivers

To determine if your problem is the result of a bad virtual device driver, open the SYSTEM.INI file and locate its [386Enh] section. Next, add a semicolon to the front of each line that begins with the Device command and ends with .386, as shown in Figure C (adding the semicolon disables the command). Now, save your changes, restart Windows 95, and try to perform a shutdown.

Figure C Place a semicolon in front of all lines starting with DEVICE and ending with .386


If the shutdown process is successful, a virtual device driver is probably to blame for your earlier shutdown problem. To narrow your search for the bad driver, remove one of the semicolons you added to SYSTEM.INI. Save your changes, restart the system, and try another shutdown. Keep repeating this process, removing one more semicolon each time until you find the virtual device driver that's causing the problem.

Commands in WIN.INI

Sometimes Windows 95 executes a command in the WIN.INI file that causes the shutdown process to malfunction. To test for this possibility, open the WIN.INI file in a text editor. Next, locate the file's Load and Run lines and place a semicolon in front of each of them, as shown in Figure D. Now, restart your computer and issue the ShutDownÉ command again.

Figure D Place a semicolon in front of the Load and Run lines in your WIN.INI file.


If Windows 95 shuts down successfully, one of these commands may be to blame. In this case, create a new Load line below the original and plug in one of the files that the original command was loading. Next, restart your computer and again try to execute a shutdown. If the process fails, the command you specified in the new Load line is your culprit. If Windows 95 shuts down properly, replace the command in the new Load line with the next one that the original line calls. Repeat this process until you've tried all the commands in the original Load line.

Once you've covered all the Load commands, you can move on to the Run line. Just cycle commands into it in the same way that you did for the Load line until you find the one that's causing your problems.

When you find the Run or Load command responsible for your shutdown

failure, you can permanently delete the command. If the command loads a critical file, you should try reinstalling the file because it may be corrupt.

Advanced power management

Your shutdown problem could also be the result of a conflict between your computer's APM (Advanced Power Management) and its memory configuration. Not all computers have APMÑif yours doesn't, you can skip this step of the diagnostic process.

Begin by double-clicking the System icon in Control Panel and selecting the Device Manager tab. Next, double-click Advanced Power Management in the System Devices list box. Deselect the Enable Power Management check box and click OK. Restart Windows 95 and then try to shut down your machine. If this attempt is successful, there's probably a compatibility problem with your computer's APM. It's a good idea to contact your PC's manufacturer in this eventÑthe company may offer a patch to correct the problem.

File system settings

To determine whether Windows 95's file system settings are causing your shutdown woes, double-click the System icon in Control Panel and select the Performance tab in the System Properties sheet. Click the File SystemÉ button, and Windows 95 will display the File System Properties dialog box. At this point, click the Troubleshooting tab and select all its check boxes. Click OK, click Close, and then click Yes when Windows 95 asks you if you want to restart your computer.

After your PC restarts, you'll notice that your system performance has degraded. This is normal when you activate the options in the Troubleshooting tab. Go ahead and try to shut down your system. If the PC shuts down successfully, the problem is more than likely related to the file system settings. Experiment with selecting various combinations of the Troubleshooting tab's check boxes to see which configuration resolves your shutdown failure with the least impact on your system.

If this technique doesn't fix your problem, be sure to go back and deselect the options in the Troubleshooting tab. Otherwise, your system's performance will suffer.


Your CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT file may execute a command that causes your shutdown problem. To explore this possibility, first restart your computer. When you see the message Starting Windows 95É, press the [F8] key. Now, choose Step-by-step confirmation from the Microsoft Windows 95 Startup Menu. Press [Enter] to accept each of the prompts in Listing A, and press [Esc] to reject any other prompts.

Listing A

Load DoubleSpace driver
Process the system registry
Load the Windows graphical user interface
Load all Windows drivers

When Windows 95 starts up with your custom instructions, try to execute a shut down. If Windows 95 shuts down, your problem is probably in the CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT file. To find out which line is causing the problem, restart Windows 95 and press [F8] when you see the Starting Windows 95É message. Choose Step-by-step confirmation just like before. This time, answer Yes to all the prompts shown in Listing A, including the Process your startup device drivers (CONFIG.SYS) prompt and the Process your startup command file (AUTOEXEC.BAT) prompt.

The idea behind this technique is to process one command in CONFIG.SYS, then reboot and try the first two commands, and so forth. When you run out of commands in CONFIG.SYS, start processing the commands in AUTOEXEC.BATÑthe first one, then the first two, and so on, trying to shut down the PC between each combination. Be sure to process all the commands in CONFIG.SYS when you're running AUTOEXEC.BAT commands, since some commands in AUTOEXEC.BAT are dependent on previously loaded drivers.

If a command in the AUTOEXEC.BAT or CONFIG.SYS file is causing your problem, you can permanently delete the command. If the command is loading a critical file, you should try to reinstall that file, since it may be corrupt.

Memory conflicts

Sometimes a memory conflict can cause shutdown problems, and these conflicts can exist even when HIMEM.SYS and EMM386.EXE aren't loading. To see if this is your situation, edit the CONFIG.SYS file to make its first two lines read as follows:



The X=A000-FEFF parameter tells EMM386.EXE to exclude the largest allowable memory range. EMM386 can actually accept values up to the hexadecimal address FFFF, but using values larger than FEFF for this purpose will result in a conflict because of overlapping memory requirements.

Once you edit the necessary lines in CONFIG.SYS, save your changes. Now, restart and shut down your computer. If the process is successful, you probably have some sort of memory conflict. Refer to last month's article ÒDiagnosing Problems with Memory ChipsÓ for more information on troubleshooting memory problems.


If you've tried all the methods we've discussed and none of them seem to be helping, look at the hidden BOOTLOG.TXT file in the root directory of your C drive. Search this file for any lines that begin with Terminate. These lines, which appear at the end of the file, may help you find the cause of the problem.

Each Terminate line should have a matching EndTerminate entry. If the last line of the file is one of the lines shown in Listing B, check the possible cause.

Listing B

Terminate = Query Drivers	 
Possible memory manager problem.
Terminate = Unload Network	 
Possible conflict with real-mode network driver in CONFIG.SYS.
Terminate = Reset Display	 
You may possibly need an updated video driver, you should also disable video shadowing.
Terminate = RIT	 	 	 
Possible timer related problem with your sound card or an old mouse driver.
Terminate = Win32 A 32-bit program is blocking a thread

Look for these Terminate lines in the BOOTLOG.TXT file.

In Figure B, the Terminates lines are the error messages. What follows is a reason why you may have gotten the error. Under normal circumstances, the last line should be EndTerminate = KERNEL, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E Under normal circumstances, BOOTLOG.TXT should end with the line EndTerminate = KERNEL.



If none of the other methods work, try resetting your computer's CMOS to its factory defaults. Be careful to write down your current settings before making this change. Since methods for editing CMOS vary from computer to computer, you'll need to consult your owner's manual if you aren't sure how to do this.


When Windows 95 hangs during shutdown, many people think it's annoying but harmless. However, this snag can lead to data corruption and wasted hard disk space. In this article, we've explored reasons why the shutdown process may fail and provided a step-by-step method for troubleshooting the problem.

The article entitled "Troubleshooting Shutdown" was originally published in Windows 95 Professional, June 1997. Copyright © 1997, The Cobb Group, 9420 Bunson Parkway, Louisville, KY 40220. All rights reserved. For subscription information, call the Cobb Group at 1-800-223-8720.

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