Microsoft's User Profile Hive Cleanup service closes services and applications that may linger after you log off.
Dennis O'ReillyFormer CNET contributor
Dennis O'Reilly began writing about workplace technology as an editor for Ziff-Davis' Computer Select, back when CDs were new-fangled, and IBM's PC XT was wowing the crowds at Comdex. He spent more than seven years running PC World's award-winning Here's How section, beginning in 2000. O'Reilly has written about everything from web search to PC security to Microsoft Excel customizations. Along with designing, building, and managing several different web sites, Dennis created the Travel Reference Library, a database of travel guidebook reviews that was converted to the web in 1996 and operated through 2000.
Some programs and services don't release their connections to Registry keys when a user logs off. This can cause problems when the person tries to log onto another PC connected to the same company network, but mainly it just adds to the time it takes XP to shut down.
Before you can download the program, you have to let Microsoft validate your copy of Windows. (The program also works with Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003.) To install the program automatically, you have to have a copy of Windows Installer 2.0 on your system. Otherwise you can install it manually: Open a command prompt (Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt), type cd \program files\uphclean, press Enter, type uphclean -install, and press Enter again. The program will start automatically the next time the system boots. Type exit and press Enter once more to close the command-prompt window.
Bonus shutdown-troubleshooting tip
The other day I decided for no good reason that it was time to update my 6-year-old XP system's video driver. I just happened to be visiting my display adapter's entry in Device Manager (right-click My Computer, choose Manage > Device Manager, double-click the entry under Display adapters, and select the Driver tab) and noticed that the driver was almost 5 years old. The fact that the adapter itself was 6 years old never crossed my mind.
(Quick aside: Is six years about as much useful life as you can expect from a PC? This system has been through the ringer since I use it as one of my test machines. But I've got two radios that are more than 20 years old, and they work just fine. Still, it may be time to retire this graybeard before it retires on me.)
I checked the vendor's download site and saw that the company recommended a replacement driver for that ancient model. The lure of free software was irresistible.
After I downloaded and installed the new driver, everything seemed to be working just fine, until I shut down Windows. That's when the PC restarted unexpectedly. I recognized this as a symptom of trouble, and sure enough, when Windows reloaded it ran a disk check. Though the check didn't indicate any disk errors, I was warned that Windows had recovered from a "serious error."
I started the troubleshooting process by stopping the automatic restarts: Right-click My Computer, choose Properties > Advanced, click Settings under Startup and Recovery, and uncheck Automatically restart. The next time I shut down I saw the blue screen displaying the error codes. A Web search of the code confirmed my suspicions, though a bad video driver was only one of several possibilities as the source of this error code.
Using XP's Roll Back Driver option didn't fix the problem, so I chose Uninstall instead. The next time I restarted XP, it started at the video adapter's lowest resolution, but after I readjusted it to the previous setting, the display appeared unchanged. When I reopened the display adapter's entry in Device Manager, it was back to the original driver version, but the shutdown error disappeared, and Disk Check didn't run the next time XP started.