Well, that is annoying, isn’t it? Let’s look at what can cause the problem. There are three basic sources of automatic reboot problems:
Software incompatibilities, including driver issues:
Here’s a tip about searching the Microsoft Knowledge Base for information on the automatic reboot problem: Microsoft rarely, if ever, refers to a “reboot” in their Knowledge Base articles, so searching for that will yield little. Try searching with “restart” or “restarts” instead.
One of the things that is quite different about Windows XP compared to Windows 9x (9x is shorthand for Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Me in all their various versions), is that one can control how it responds to certain critical errors—those that cause the infamous Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). In Windows XP, the default setting is for the computer to reboot automatically when a fatal error occurs. If that fatal error only occurs when you’re shutting down, the system reboots automatically.
If you haven’t changed any of the system failure settings, you should be able to see the error by looking in the Event Log. But a better long-term solution is to turn off the automatic reboot so you can actually see the error when it happens—chances are it will tell you enough about itself to let you troubleshoot further. To change the recovery settings to disable automatic rebooting:
Right-click My Computer, and then click Properties.
Click the Advanced tab.
Under Startup and Recovery, click Settings to open the Startup and Recovery dialog box.
Clear the Automatically restart check box, and click OK the necessary number of times.
Restart your computer for the settings to take effect.
Now when you go to shut down and a fatal error occurs, you’ll at least see it and it won’t cause an automatic reboot. However You still have to sort out what’s causing the problem!
The most common cause of a fatal error or BSOD is a software or driver problem, and troubleshooting these can be tricky. The mechanism for troubleshooting, however, is pretty much the same for any problem on a PC. The first thing to look at is what’s changed—what new software program or driver have you added, usually just before the problem started. This sounds easy and it often is, but if it’s something you’ve lived with for a while, you’ll often have no idea what the proximate cause is. When you do, it’s a lot easier. When you don’t, you need to do a bit of research to find out if there is a specific cause for the particular error message you’re getting (when you have one) or a known issue with certain programs or drivers that causes the behavior you’re seeing. In the case of automatic reboots, even when you’ve selected a shutdown, a search of the Microsoft Knowledge Base turns up Windows XP Restarts When You Try to Shut Down Your Computer, which points to a known problem with Roxio’s Easy CD Creator 5.0 and Windows XP. And, sure enough, a check of the Roxio Web site shows that there’s an update from them for Windows XP. Here’s a suggestion—in my experience, solving problems with CD-writing software requires one to follow the outlined steps exactly. Many of us have installed numerous programs, patches, and drivers over the years and think we know what to do. For most things, we probably do. However, I’ve been a happy user of Easy CD Creator since version 2 and if there’s one thing I’ve learned the hard way, it’s the need to follow their instructions exactly when doing an update.
I don’t want to pick on Roxio, though. I like their software and always have. You should always read the instructions for installing a driver or patch carefully and follow them exactly whatever the source—it’s just smarter.
So, is Easy CD Creator the only program that will cause this problem? Probably not, it just happens to be the only one I managed to find searching the Knowledge Base. But the Knowledge Base is by no means complete. If you don’t find what you’re looking for there, it’s often a good idea to ask on the newsgroups. Check/ASK on the Windows XP Expert Zone Newsgroups.
Often someone else has had a similar problem and will offer a solution. And it’s always a good idea to check for updates to any of your critical hardware drivers on the manufacturer’s Web site, although Windows Update does help keep you up to date.
Finally, the last and often trickiest to troubleshoot source of reboot problems: your computer’s BIOS. If there is a problem in your BIOS, or sometimes even in the firmware for one of the other pieces of hardware installed in your machine, it could cause an instability and lead to one of those automatic restarts that we talked about in the first section. Especially if the problem is in the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) portion. The good news is that these problems are much less common today than they used to be in the early w2k/XP days. But it never hurts to check with your computer manufacturer to see if there’s an updated BIOS available.