Someone didn't tell they had installed privacy software and it had enabled the CLEAR PAGEFILE on shutdown feature. Your post sounds too familiar but I always miss this one since its not a stock setting.
Posting on behalf of a friend who has XP-PRO-SP-2 on a 4 way partitioned 120GB H/D,1GB RAM, Athlon 3300XP processor, brand new i.e less that 2 months.
His primary work involves the use of Photoshop, Illustrate and Adobe Go-Live.
Problem as follows:
1. If he boots, checks e-mail and powers off, the shutdown is approximately 30 sec.
2. If he boots and uses the programs above for 3 hours and then shuts down it takes between 4-5 min.
3. If during the shutdown he hits the reset button to re-start and then shut down it's back to 30 sec.
I have read somewhere about XP writing to the cache at shut down and think that because of the size of the photo files, this maybe slowing the process down.
I know also that I encountered a similar problem with my XP and went 'somewhere' and did 'something' to resolve.
However cannot remember where it is I went or what I did.
Some help/ advice appreciated.