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Article ID: 320299 - Last Review: September 23, 2011 - Revision: 4.0

This article was previously published under Q320299

SYMPTOMS

If you shut down your Windows XP-based computer, your computer may restart instead of shutting down. The computer may also restart unexpectedly while you are using the computer to perform certain tasks. An error message may appear on a blue screen when the computer restarts.

CAUSE

This behavior may occur if Windows stops responding during a typical operation or during the shutdown process. By default, the computer is configured to automatically restart when Windows stops responding. To view this setting, follow these steps:
  1. Click the Start button, right-click My Computer, click Properties, click the Advanced tab, and then click Settings under Startup and Recovery.
  2. Under System Failure, view the Automatically restart check box. If the Automatically restart check box is selected, Windows automatically restarts if the computer stops unexpectedly.

RESOLUTION

If your computer constantly restarts while you are using it, or if you are trying to shut down the computer after it has stopped unexpectedly, click to clear the Automatically restart check box. If you clear this check box, you receive an error message when the computer stops responding. This error message may describe the cause of the problem. You can also review the system log in Event Viewer to view the critical stop error that occurs when the computer restarts. For additional information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
308427  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/308427/ ) HOW TO: View and manage event logs in Event Viewer in Windows XP
To configure the way that Windows responds when the computer stops unexpectedly, follow these steps.

Note: You must be logged on as an administrator or a member of the Administrators group to complete this procedure. If your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings may prevent you from completing this procedure.
  1. Log on to the host computer as either an administrator or the owner.
  2. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  3. Under Pick a category, click Performance and Maintenance.
  4. Under the or pick a Control Panel icon section, click System.
  5. Click the Advanced tab, and then click Settings under Startup and Recovery.
  6. Click to select any one of the following check boxes under System Failure:
    • Write an event to the system log
    • Send an administrative alert
    • Automatically restart

STATUS

This behavior is by design.

MORE INFORMATION

By default, the Automatically restart check box is selected so that you can continue to use the computer if a critical stop error occurs. Microsoft Services starts during the startup process before you log on. Therefore, the computer is functional after it restarts. If the computer stops because of a critical stop error, you lose all functionality, including the remote access functionality. After the computer restarts, you can investigate the reason for the stop error.

The stop error message only displays information about the possible cause of the critical stop error. In most situations, the error is logged in the system log.

Configure Windows to perform the following actions if a severe error such as a stop error or fatal system error occurs:
  • Write an event to the system log.
  • Notify administrators.
  • Automatically restart the computer.
  • Dump system memory to a file that advanced users can use for debugging.
You must have at least a 2-megabyte (MB) paging file on the computer's boot volume if you want to configure the computer to either write an event to the system log or notify an administrator. If you configure Windows to create a dump file that contains the system memory data, you can use the dump file to debug the cause of the stop error.

To configure Windows to create a dump file, follow these steps:
  1. Log on to the host computer as either an administrator or the owner.
  2. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  3. Under Pick a category, click Performance and Maintenance.
  4. Under the or pick a Control Panel icon section, click System.
  5. Click the Advanced tab, and then click Settings under Startup and Recovery.
  6. Under Write Debugging Information, click one of the following entries:
    • Small Memory Dump: If you click this setting, the smallest amount of information that helps you identify the problem is recorded. This setting requires that you have at least 2 MB available for a paging file on the boot volume of your computer. If you click this setting, Windows creates a new file every time that the computer stops unexpectedly. A history of these files is stored in the folder that is listed in the Dump File box.
    • Kernel Memory Dump: If you click this setting, only kernel memory is recorded. This speeds up the process of recording information in a log when the computer stops unexpectedly. Depending on the random-access memory (RAM) in your computer, you must have 50 MB to 800 MB available for the paging file on the boot volume. The file is stored in the folder that is listed in the Dump File box.
    • Complete Memory Dump: If you click this setting, the contents of the system memory are recorded when the computer stops unexpectedly. If you use this setting, you must have a paging file on the boot volume that is sufficient to hold all of the physical RAM plus one MB. The file is stored in the folder that is listed in the Dump File box.
Windows always writes to the same file name. To save individual dump files, click to clear the Overwrite any existing file check box, and change the file name after each stop error.

To save memory, click to clear both the Write an event to the system log check box and the Send an administrative alert check box. The memory that is saved depends on the computer. Typically, these debugging features require about 60 kilobytes (KB) to 70 KB of RAM.

APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Keywords: 
kbeventlog kbenv kbprb KB320299
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