Friday 13 April 2018

Windows Task Host preventing shutdown

Here we go again.

Recently I wrote about problems with Windows 7 failing to install updates.

Now I’ve had a similar (though not identical) problem on a PC I upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10. All went well for a few weeks. And then one day I noticed, as I was trying to shut it down, a message saying that something called the Windows Task Host was closing background tasks and preventing shutdown. I thought at first this meant the Task Manager. I checked but that wasn’t running. So I had no option but to kill off the Task Host and shut down.

The same thing happened the next day. And the day after that. When unexpected things keep happening in Windows you can bet it’s a symptom of some bigger problem. So I started hunting around in Control Panel to see if I could find any details about this damn’ Task Host thing. That’s when I noticed that a number of Windows updates had failed to install. They said they couldn’t install because something else was waiting to install. So what should I do about that? It didn’t tell me!

I hunted around the Internet and found numerous articles telling me how to fix this. They ranged from the extreme (re-install Windows) to the merely fiddly (load up one thing, disable another thing, install this, remove that, edit the registry etc. etc.). Since the last time I’d encountered this (the Windows 7 problem, I mentioned earlier), the simple fix was the one that worked, I decided to try the simplest possible fix I could find for the Task Host problem. And it worked!

So here it is:

  • Press [Windows key] + X
  • Click Power options
  • Find Related Settings
  • Click Additional power settings
  • Click Choose what the power button does
  • Click Change settings that are currently unavailable
  • Uncheck 'Turn on fast startup (recommended)
  • Click Save changes.
  • Turn off PC.
  • Turn on again.

I went back into Updates (Control Panel, Updates & Security, Windows Updates) and the updates were installing. I shut down the PC. No damned Windows Task Host! Hurrah!

Don’t ask me why this works. It just does.