Strange computer behavior

I have a Dell computer that I purchased last October.

All in all, it’s been a fairly well-behaved machine. Some of the software (like Microsoft Word) has given me fits every now and then, but I usually am able to work through them with a little help from friends.

Now I’ve got a problem that has me pretty stumped.

When I try shutting down the computer, the CPU doesn’t turn off completely, and neither does the monitor. Almost as if some internal switch was stuck. Normally the monitor and CPU will shut itself off completely when I select “Shut Down” from the Start menu.

An unpleasant rebooting allowed me to run Norton, which could find no problem with the system software. However, Norton Disk Doctor was unable to get very far (it got stuck at the “Boot Disk” portion of the scan) because it said the disk was continuously being written to, and I should close any active programs.


I wonder if this is related to what happened last weekend, where I spent four hours trying to resolve a start-up problem that I eventually traced to the printer software. Reinstallation of the printer software seemed to have done the trick, but a few odd problems remain, namely, the printer icon in the system tray doesn’t always appear upon activation of the computer, and I get the occasional weird error message about SPOOL32.exe not behaving right.

The scanner software will require reinstallation, too, but that’s a project I’m saving for later.

I can’t help but suspect that all of these problems are interrelated, but I fail to see how it could prevent a computer from completely shutting itself off.

Am I doomed to do a complete system reinstall?

I throw myself on the mercy of those who are more knowledgeable about Windows matters than me.

I’m not sure which Windows OS you’re running…but since you bought it last October, I’m guessing its not Win95. It seems to be a pretty common bug in Windows95 and Windows98.

Off the top of my head, some of the causes for this are having “Fast Shutdown” enabled on your computer (which you can turn off with MSCONFIG), large Temp files, or an old version of the .dll that Windows calls to shutdown the computer (unfortunately, I can’t remember which dll it is right now).

Check Google Usenet out, for a better explanation of the things you can do to fix the problem…do a search on “windows shutdown problem,” and read the first thread that comes up (entitled: “Re: Windows shutdown problem with Win98 Second Edition”…it covers all the Windows versions, not just win98)

Also, you can go to Microsoft/MSDN and do a search on “shutdown bug”, for advice on specific Windows versions.

If you are running Windows98 Second Edition, then you can download an update from Microsoft here that should fix your problem immediately. The file is about 500k.

My computer is running Windows ME. Don’t know if that will change any of your recommendations.

I’m at work right now, so I’ll have to wait until I get home to check out those links in greater detail. Thanks.

Does anything explain why there would be a background program continuously writing to the hard disk? Could this be related to why the shutdown couldn’t be completed…because the computer was waiting for that program to quit?

OK. I’m back at home and slaving over this computer to get it working happily again.

A search through the “running tasks” in the System Information tool reveals the presence of 4 files called “kernel32.dll” in there. As far as I can tell, they’re all identical.

The presence of so many redundant files in there makes me suspicious. What is the purpose of this dll file, and could this be the source of these odd problems that I have been experiencing?

A DLL is a runtime file & you should only have one version of each one running.

“kernel32.dll” is your computer memory manager DLL. It manages the memory of your computer.

OK. Update.

The problem has apparently been fixed. Thanks to the MSDN link provided by Starbury, I was able to find the means to solve the problem of the funky shutdowns, after about two hours of work. But it was a real roundabout route, with a surprising result.

Here, in summary, is what I think happened:

  1. My computer’s printer software goes absolutely bonkers on Saturday. It does something nasty to the system. Startups become problematic. I use Norton Rescue Disk to restore the system to an earlier version.

  2. The result of the system restoration means that a few things I had deleted long ago come back from the dead, like hideous zombies.

  3. One of those things is some software related to Shockmachine, which I downloaded in order to get the Shockwave plug-in. This was eventually tossed out, but the Norton Rescue Disk had not been updated since then.

  4. Shockmachine has a little “reminder” software installed in Start-up. This reminder software doesn’t like to play with the other start-up software.

  5. It causes some type of activity that continually writes to my hard drive, preventing software like Norton Disk Doctor from running properly, and preventing the computer from completing a full shutdown. The CPU would not shut down, and neither would the monitor.

  6. Removal of the offending Shockmachine reminder fixed the problem. The CPU now shuts off completely, and the monitor goes into powersave mode.

As for the “kernel32.dll” file, a look in my system folder reveals the presence of only one of these little buggers. But when I check the “running tasks” in the System Configuration tool, it shows four of these things running. Anyone guess at the apparent discrepency?

No, there’s no problem with having 4 instances of kernel32.dll running. All windows OS’s have this, but it usually hides this fact from the user. Windows ME’s version of MSInfo (the program that runs the diagnostics for your computer) actually shows you that four copies of the dll are running, whereas Win98 would (essentially) lie to you and say only one copy was running.

Err, kernel32 is not any kind of memory manager. It is, ahem, the OS kernel, the most central part of the operating system. The kernel is the part that actually manages application instructions and sends I/O to the hardware and the shell.

Nope sewalk,
"Kernel32.dll is the 32-bit dynamic link library found in the Windows operating
system kernel. It handles memory management, input/output operations, and
interrupts. When Windows boots up, kernel32.dll is loaded into a protected
memory space so other applications do not take that space over. "

Why didn’t you correct the OP about the CPU instead sewalk?
What the person meant is that the computer did not shut down, not the CPU…

Handy, calling kernel32.dll a “memory manager” is like saying that your car’s purpose is to provide a place for the windshield wipers to sit. Sure, it does have that function, but it does a whole lot more too.