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Why does my laptop take so long to shut down?!

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 27, 2013 8:44 AM PDT

Why does my laptop take so long to shut down?!

I am having a problem and cannot figure out what it is. For about the last two months my laptop is taking forever to shut down. Sometimes it's up to 10 minutes and a couple times it's been close to 30 minutes. I have gone into msconfig and made sure I have no programs starting up or running that I don't need, but that made no difference. The only other thing I have noticed is now every once in a while I get an extra folder -- Shortcut to desktop, or My Documents showing up in another folder like Downloads, or Pictures.

I am using Windows 7 Ultra, have Kaspersky Antivirus up-to-date, use Adblock and have recently installed Zone Alarm to see if that helps. I have updated all Microsoft security updates and programs, but still nothing makes a difference.

When shutting down I get a message that says it's waiting for background programs to stop, but there is nothing in the area to say which programs, and that never lasts more then a minute; then it says it's logging off and shutting down and then I wait and wait and wait... Any ideas how to fix what is wrong? I cannot find any programs that are causing this hangup, so this is just strange to me. I have an I5 2.5GHz processor and 6GB of RAM. C drive has 650GB and 350GB of free disk space.

Any help is appreciated before I have to format and start from scratch. Thanks!

-- Submitted by: Bill B.
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(NT) laptop slow to shut down problem
by gratay99 / September 27, 2013 1:18 PM PDT
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laptop problem in shutting down
by gratay99 / September 27, 2013 1:33 PM PDT

Hi Bill
You sound to be pretty clued regarding the problem.
You dont mention what are obvious things to try but heres a few options.
Run CC cleaner both registry and drive cleaning options its a free download if you dont have it.
This will make sure its not clutter or debris left in your operating system.
Check if you need to defragment your system if you do then this may help to speed things up.
Check your system with Spybot Search and Destroy a free download it will remove any unwanted adaware and malaware on your system It often finds things your antivirus programme doesnt.
Try System Restore you may have to go back to a time when your system was closing down normally.
This is a built in programme with windows and quite easy to use.
These are things I would do before considering a re install.
Pleas repost how you get on.
Best regards

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Get an Apple!
by freesumpin / October 5, 2013 5:42 PM PDT

Easy fix!

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by walldoo99 / October 8, 2013 11:02 PM PDT
In reply to: Get an Apple!

Easy but omg expensive

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and . . .
by freesumpin / October 9, 2013 2:43 PM PDT
In reply to: APPLE?

. . . they WORK!

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by tbone69069 / October 17, 2013 4:06 PM PDT
In reply to: and . . .

The crash

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Shutdown takes forever
by DSHornet / September 27, 2013 1:30 PM PDT

There are several reasons for this problem, starting with too much dead wood in the registry, too many useless and always-growing files on the drive, and really bad file fragmentation. I'm not a guru but I've had my share of problems from which I had to recover and I treated the recovery process as a learning experience. More knowledgable and experienced techs may differ with my ideas but here is where I suggest you start.

Clean up the registry and hard drive. I've used Piriform Ccleaner (free) for this for almost ten years and found that it's dependable and solid. When you do the registry cleaning it asks you if you want to save the result just in case the process hoses the registry files. I always answer "yes" for safety's sake even though I never (repeat, never) have had a problem. It improved operation in WinMe, which tells you it's pretty reliable. The file cleanup is good, too. Using the defaults in the setup will be enough to get you going initially.

Defrag the drive. Two good choices are Auslogics Defrag and Piriform Defraggler (both free). You may find that you get better results if you run these several times, rebooting after each session, to make sure they catch all the fragmented files.

The paging file, also called the swap file, may be fragmented, especially if the system is set to automatically manage the swap file size. Setting the swap file to a specific size will stop this so it won't have its total size changed, with the resulting fragmentation, routinely by the system. A good place to start is specifying a size equal to your total RAM, which will give it a stable size and location on the hard drive.

As mentioned, others may have other ideas but these have worked well in my personal experience. Please feed back and let us know how you are doing.

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by feduchin / October 4, 2013 12:45 PM PDT
In reply to: Shutdown takes forever

I have indeed had the occasional problem with slow shutdown. However did this person state the OS? I've forgotten. I experienced the problem somewhat with XP, less with Win 7, and frankly now with Win 8 (Professional) it's almost ridiculous: my laptop both starts from cold in 8 seconds and closes in 3-4!
My advice is: Upgrade! Windows 8 (professional is mine) really fixes up the PC.

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Win Ape Pro (aka Win 8 Pro) reboot times not comparible to 8
by photobug56 / October 4, 2013 12:57 PM PDT
In reply to: Amazing!

Win Ape or 8, depending on your view, normally does only a partial shutdown when you tell it to restart. So you can't compare it to 7 in terms of handling problems. 8 does have some good features, such as the new bios type and the 'quick' restart that is usually sufficient; some day if and when it gets a usable GUI I may actually install it in other then a VM.

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No shut down
by alias Winston Smith / October 4, 2013 4:27 PM PDT
In reply to: Shutdown takes forever

I can't help with the problem nut I have probably worse issue?
I've run CCleaner more than once, run Norton and Malwarebytes, neither found anything
Laptop has still been 'shutting down' 10~12 hrs later
The only thing I haven't done is defrag for about a year hope that fixes it.
Seems slow shutdown is a real common problem?
Running Win VISTA but presently on Ubuntu 12.04 (dual boot)

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Vista really bad on shutdown.
by oldfart13 / October 4, 2013 7:58 PM PDT
In reply to: No shut down

I was running with Vista for quite a while and shutdown took varying times to complete, sometimes not completing all night. It was terrible. I switched to Windows 7 last year and got an SSD and shutdown is now consistently about 3 seconds. Startup is much quicker also and I NEVER have a problem with either.

I know that the SSD has been responsible for most of the speed improvement, but I did run with windows 7 with a regular hard drive for a month or so before installing the SSD and shutdown took about 30 seconds , if I remember, but never any of the extended times. I tried Windows 8 on another computer and disliked it completely. It won't allow booting from a DVD unless you go through hoops and I was never comfortable with it. I switched back to Windows 7 and am very satisfied. I don't look forward to the day when they stop supporting Windows 7. Windows 8 is probably very good for a touch screen, but I've never been a fan of those, so I'll just stick with 7 as long as I can.

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dual boot
by walldoo99 / October 8, 2013 11:16 PM PDT
In reply to: No shut down

The dual boot might be your problem. I've heard others have issues with the dual boot from a single drive using windows and linux. The ones not having the issue are using 2 hard drives and loading boot menu.

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Dual boot - single drive - no problem
by alias Winston Smith / October 9, 2013 3:29 AM PDT
In reply to: dual boot

That's pretty strange, I installed Linux Ubuntu on two different computers without any issues
You may have to go into BIOS and set timing on boot choice screen menu for a longer time period so you can see what's happening or maybe even set BIOS to show boot screens, many new computers don't show them or skip through in milliseconds

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Startup on mine is doing the same as your Shutdown
by colminton / October 4, 2013 10:08 PM PDT
In reply to: Shutdown takes forever

I did as DSHornet said and installed the two Piriform downloads hoping it would help my startup. So far I haven't seen the difference, but I've only ran them twice. I'll keep tying Thanks

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"Shutdown takes forever"
by sdbett / October 6, 2013 3:07 PM PDT
In reply to: Shutdown takes forever

Agreed DS!

ALSO - With regard to laptops there are a "Legion" of reasons for this. These days, retail sellers of laptops preload a complete "Kafuffle" of software to "Nanny" the user into a safe, warm and cuddly place to use their new "Baybee" as if we are all "Newbies" - These extra "Bits", once they start on line, in their new home begin updating like "Billy O". Last Xmas, I bought my Wife a massive Samsung from a well-known, world-wide retailer (No clues but, Panasonic cannot even sell a pack of screen-wipes without their permission!). Built to my spec - i7 4th gen with twinned NVidias, 8 gig RAM (Expandable) - Total cost = around 75% a month's salary!! (- Landlord's discount as I built the retail park!).

Anyway, it wasn't long before all the Nanny software came into life whilst I'm just trying to (1) Update the system - Now manually!. (2) Find out that I had to use the Norton removal Tool and incept my chosen AV. (3) Get rid of the W8 "Pretties" and install the Start Button.

About 40 hours in, I also found that there WERE 3 different ways of recuing the system - All 3rd party software and non were needed as I just back up Outlook singularly and do a full system back-up several times a week!!!! In addition, the SW software kept trying to keep the system "Up-to-date".

Oh by-the-way, I NEVER have ANY auto update set as such - I look and chose.

Massive story short I don't get "Techy" in my answers as readers are not all within that grounding but what I found with "Lts" (That never seem to get above that rank") is that -

Quite often, Laptops come TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO loaded with Nanny software and setups. Quite often, the user shuts them down, not knowing that the supplier has sold them a system that overloads the "Update syndrome" and these quite often, come-into-play during shut down.

Further, 3rd party cleaners, optimisers and defraggers can often help, greatly in the "Get rid of useless software war" but it does take some time to work out exactly what is needed and not BUT, I would NEVER advise anyone to manually "Muck-Around" with the registry and most of the BEST pieces of system optimisers available are FREE!

My results = 12 min max shut down (Now gone forever!) and today = 3 - 5 seconds.

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Shut Down frustrations
by whoozhe / September 27, 2013 1:36 PM PDT

The process for fixing this is not for the faint hearted. It requires a reasonable knowledge on how Windows works.
The Windows shutdown process is as complex as starting the operating system.
When you ask to shut down your laptop windows has to close any open application before it can shut down. The most common problem applications are those that run in the background such as anti virus software, an undetected piece of malware, system tools and other applications running in the background that you may not be aware of.
Windows is finding it difficult or impossible to shutdown one or more of these rogue programs.
The best solution is firstly identify what is actually running in the background. You can do this by going to Start and type in the search box msconfig. Click on msconfig.exe then press enter.
A dialog box will pop up. Click on the Startup Tab. There will be list of all application that that start automatically when you boot up.
Here is where the knowledge plays a role. To distinguish between essential and non essential startup items
Real player's realsched.exe and Quicktime's qttask.exe are the first to disable if listed. It will not affect the actual application just prevent them loading junk.
In fact you can disable most except your anti virus application. All applications can be opened and closed manually.
I would disable everything, note which ones you have disabled, and reboot. The changes will not be made until the system is restarted. Reboot again and see if the shutdown process is faster. If so then you can either leave it as is or enable each disabled item one at a time doing the double reboot each time until the culprit is discovered.
If possible if you could post the list from msconfig here we may be able to recommend which entries to keep or Google each one and decide yourself.

There are some utilities that can help identify these and other auto start applications.
Microsoft free Autoruns for Windows from Here

Startup Cop from PC Magazine (Requires a paid annual subscription to their PC Magazine's library of exclusive utilities)

Microsoft's Performance Toolkit which which is part of SDK that is probably the best tool for finding problems. It is free but designed mainly for engineers and high end users.. see "" for details and instructions.

There are other possible causes such as a damaged Hard Drive, Faulty memory or a number of other physical problems but first try and eliminate the software side.

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Ahhh - a solution
by alias Winston Smith / October 4, 2013 4:33 PM PDT
In reply to: Shut Down frustrations

Thanks, pretty sure it's Norton auto updater causing at least part of the problem.
Quicktime I really don't like, it always tries to take over.
I think I disabled Real Player about 4 yrs ago on XP desktop which helped speed thigs up.
I'm going to shut down Ubuntu re-boot into Vista then get into msconfg yp look for Real and Quicktime

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Ahhh- the memories
by dibbo / October 8, 2013 10:11 AM PDT
In reply to: Ahhh - a solution

Winston, The absolute worst computer experience I personally ever had was due to Norton auto updater. 13 hours of computer face time staring at a BSOD (from a bad install). Granted this was a while ago (windows ME) but have never used a Norton product since and never auto updater if controllable.

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Best Answer
by otakuhiro / November 29, 2014 4:21 AM PST
In reply to: Shut Down frustrations

This fixed my problem, when I have time I'm going to search for the particular problem causing the computer to not shut down, but at least for now it shuts down fine.

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registry edit
by h_bretman / September 27, 2013 6:57 PM PDT

this reminds me of slow shutdown with XP and it was a simple registry edit to fix. Heres are the instructions for XP
<div><span style="font-size:14.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt">1-
Start/Run and type Regedit


3- Click on "Control" [highlight]

4- Select "Wait to kill service timeout" [in right hand pane]

5- Right click and select "Modify"

6- Set to a lower value than 2000

7- A setting of 200 will be sufficient

Normal setting is 2000 but can safely be reduced to 200 for a quick shutdown.
Sometimes in PCs, including my own, an extra nought is added on to make it
20000. Not sure why this happens but when it does it leads to a very long
shutdown time.<o:p></o:p>
<span style="font-size:14.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt">With W7 go to all progs then accessories then command prompt and right click run as administrator then follow the above. Sometimes you may have to look in windows system and system 32 for the same entries.

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registry change
by doogermeister / October 4, 2013 10:04 AM PDT
In reply to: registry edit

My registry entry indicates 12000 as a "Wait to kill service timeout". Decided not to change it as I don't have a shutdown issue. All of the input here from members has been enlightening and helpful too.

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XP shutdown
by tdctommy / October 4, 2013 10:18 AM PDT
In reply to: registry edit

This advice was perfect! Shutdown on my old work laptop was reduced to less than 2 minutes. Thanks!

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There is really not sufficient information here.
by Flatworm / September 27, 2013 11:25 PM PDT

This could be caused by a whole bunch of things.

One thing you might try doing for starters is to boot to safe mode and shut down from there. If the problem persists, it eliminates any hardware source for your problem.

Then I would suggest that you take the following steps in the following order:

1. As others have suggested, get Piriform's CCleaner and run it. You do not necessarily have to clean the registry at this time.

2. Scan your entire system with your fully up-to-date antivirus.

3. If you do not already have it installed, get Spybot Search and Destroy, run its update program (yes, even after you've just installed it from current distribution), and then run it to scan your system for spyware, removing whatever it fines.

4. Remove all unused or garbage software from your machine in the usual way via "Uninstall a program." Before you remove them, note the folder in which the executable resides (this is not always intuitive). Then remove any of those folders that remain in your "Programs" directory.

5. Run CCleaner again, including its registry cleaner, which will remove all the remnants of the applications you just removed.

6. Obtain a good third-party disk defragmenter and run it. Others have suggested Auslogic or Piriform; I have not used them but by all accounts they are good products. I paid for Raxco's PerfectDisk and I KNOW it's a good product. First run the disk defragmenter. If it has a system area defragmenter (which requires a reboot), run it next, then run the disk defragmenter again.

7. Shutdown and reboot. Shutdown again to see if the problem persists.

If it does, well, I would run a system file check. To do this, open as administrator a command prompt window and type "sfc /scannow". Have your Windows distribution disk ready (this is not necessary if your O/S was correctly installed and configured, which on laptops they usually are).

If the problem does persist, then things get complex. It would be a good idea at this point to reflash your BiOS with the current version. This is MUCH easier and safer than it used to be -- it's just like installing software now. You just need to identify the correct update at your motherboard manufacturer's website.

If that doesn't work, get a good piece of driver scanner software and make sure all your device drivers are up to date, and update those as needed. The WinZip guys make a decent software for that, but it isn't freeware.

Now, if the problem still persists, things get REAL complicated. First check your msconfig and see what starts up. There are a lot of what we in the Unix world used to call "daemons," applications that constantly listen in the background for input. Some of these are safe to kill, some aren't. Someone else mentioned realsched and qttask -- these are certainly not necessary but seldom would cause this problem. But when you see questionable ones you can look them up online and see if they're safe to kill.

You can look in your task manager while your system is up and running to see all the applications and services that are running. Identifying the culprit(s) from the hundreds of items on these lists is truly a daunting task, though. Hopefully your problem will be solved before resorting to this.

It should not be necessary to edit your registry. It used to work right, right?

Hope this helps.

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by bigjohnl / October 4, 2013 10:18 AM PDT

That's all heavy duty, but very effective.

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reflash the Bios?
by Bob.F / October 5, 2013 1:55 AM PDT

I like the rest of what you said but I would re-flash the BIOS as a very last resort even if its easier now I would want a store to do it using a battery backup. Make sure all power options a set to never turn off anything, the weather is excellent and that the internet provider is have a fantastic day . Note there are programs that defrag the swap file which could be added to the other suggestions


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by bskopit / September 27, 2013 11:47 PM PDT

I just experienced the same situation. But the final straw that broke the camels back worked. You should buy the Pro version of Malwarebytes and run it. You will be amazed at the amout of malware that exists on your computer. You can just about delete everything that comes up. Upon completion reboot and things should be a lot better.

Note: You can also try the free version of Malwarebytes which might work as well.


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Paranoid seems warranted
by richteral / September 28, 2013 12:58 AM PDT

I should also suspect an infection in the first place, and Malwarebytes would be a good port of call regardless of Kaspersky. Yet another option is to download MS Defender Offline (best on another, reliably "clean" machine) burn it to a CD and run it on the laptop; further guidance at MS Security Blog,

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Slow shutdown
by bonnie.browne / October 4, 2013 11:57 PM PDT

Was quite interested in this topic and am wondering if I install malwarebytes program as a number of people are suggesting will it interfere with the AVG free program ? Thanks Bonnie

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MalwareBytes will not interfere w/AVG or any antivirus
by wpgwpg / October 6, 2013 12:13 PM PDT
In reply to: Slow shutdown

I've used MalwareBytes on PCs with AVG and Norton. It does not interfere and it's a great program. I use the free version and recommend it highly.
Good luck.

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SLOW or NO Computer Shut Down
by sb89052 / October 5, 2013 6:30 PM PDT

free malwarebytes program solved my problem. Thanks!

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