Gretchen Summers wrote:

For some reason our Dell, running XP, suddenly won't shut down.  I
have to hold in the power button to get it to do so.  I suspect some
application running in the background that won't quit might be the
culprit.  Can anyone suggest a way to resolve this?

Before shutdown give the three fingered salute which should bring up the task manager. It also opens a load indicator icon in the taskbar, check the load also found at the bottom of the task manager window, with the machine idling the load should be no greater than 5 - 10% (high limit I know mine runs at 0 - 1%)
If the load is high you can go through the list of processes, sorry, we are in the process tab of the task manager, and look at the load each is making then kill anything bar the *idle* process that has a high reading.

The task manger under XP no longer sucks the life from everything else so you can put it aside and watch how things work when opened unlike the Win9x OS.

Two executions of the same app will cause high load and problems for example my tv card software installed badly and loaded twice on startup causing a very slow computer and various running problems.

On startup of the computer after its booted and idle, give the three fingered salute, click the process tab and check how many processes are running, this varies greatly on the software installed on the box of course but in general it should be around 30. Over 40 and you have spyware, over 55 and you have more than I have seen on any box I have worked on. My test box running a firewall, virus checker and other misc programs show 29 processes running after boot, while the POS box I'm currently repairing runs 35 at boot, just to give you some reference.

The programs mentioned by Brian are both good and fast and do a fair job of removal if they run a recent update, old def files found on older pc mag cover cds should be updated or they will not remove the cause of the problem. Both should be used with a little care. As far as I know the M$ spyware program is beta, frankly I wouldn't trust it.

More info about where the machine freezes during shutdown and a quick look at your device manager for suss drivers would be the next on the list but I'd start with the above.

The IE make over MyIE/Mcombo or the use of Mozilla for surfing will help keep nasties away with builtin popup blockers and such, use IE for updating software, a general tip for any version of windows. Use of a Firewall such a Zonealarm will provide you with many notices and options before the trail expires and it reverts to just a firewall, its updated once every few weeks so you basicly have a full version on a trial all year. ;) the popup at boot does become annoying.

Programs such as System Mechanic also provide virus, spyware, popup ect functions as well as very good system/registry utilities. Well worth a look compared to Symantec or other big name, small result companies.

Sorry, drifted away abit there. ;)

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