Solutions: Why does it take so long to shut down my computer?

I am using an HP laptop with Windows 7. When I try to shut down my computer, a screen comes up that says "waiting for background programs to close" and it has a button that allows me to "force shutdown." It warns me that anything that has not been saved will be lost. When I click on "force shutdown," something briefly comes up that says "Task Host Window" and it still takes its time shutting the computer off.

Taskhost is a generic Windows process that handles all DLL communications between programs, very similar to svchost. It's not indicative of any one particular program, so tracking down the issue can be tricky. First, make sure your antivirus is up-to-date and you're getting clean return scans. It wouldn't hurt to also download and run the MalwareBytes Anti-Malware free program from malwarebytes.org. This URL will bring you directly to their website and initiate the download. Assuming all is well, try doing a system restore to a point before you started getting the shutdown issues. Lastly, I would make sure that your PC is updated (Start, type Windows Update). This type of problem was a known issue in the initial Windows 7 release, corrected in the first service pack.

We have a 2 ½ year old Dell Studio XPS 8100 with Windows 7. A few weeks ago, an indirect lightning strike took out our computer through the modem connection. Since we have an extended warranty, Dell replaced the internal power supply and motherboard. We typically leave the PC on and every so often the monitor is completely black and nothing functions. As best as we can tell, the only way to get the PC up and running is to manually turn it off and disconnect the power cord for a couple of minutes. Once the power cord is reconnected, the PC takes quite a bit of time to log on. Once it is logged back on, everything is fine for several days until the recurrence of the same problem.

Intermittent problems are the toughest since they seem to defy logical approaches. You say pulling and reconnecting the plug reboots the PC, slowly, probably because it was shutdown abruptly and is recovering. That makes sense. The monitor comes back, so it's not a broken monitor.

My guess is that the PC is putting the monitor into power save mode and for some reason it is not waking up. It could be a software or a BIOS issue. Let's do software first: Go into the Control Panel\System and Security\Power Options and set the "Choose when to turn off display" to "Never." You can use the power button on the monitor to turn it on and off during the testing period.

See if that solves the problem. If it doesn't, check the power options in the system BIOS. I think for your particular model it's F2. (Check the Dell documentation if it's not.) Check the different menu options and find and turn off the monitor power save in the BIOS. It's possible the system board you received may need a BIOS update. Check with Dell support to see what they have to say about the update as well as the sleeping monitor issue.

Send questions to personaltech@tampabay.com. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: Why does it take so long to shut down my computer? 11/08/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 8, 2013 7:30pm]

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