In the last few months Windows Automatic Update has been constantly updating
my WindowsXP machines. About a month ago my Pavilion 742n (AMD Athlon XP
2000+ running at 1.66 GHz with 1 GB ram) stopped shutting down properly (or
should I say simply quit shutting down.) Because of a few other minor
issues caused on another one of my other machines by the constant updating,
I assumed this was caused by one of the Windows Update. Since a machine
that isn't running properly tends to drive me crazy, I finally did a full
system restore with the recovery disks. (If anyone has ever done this, you
know what a pain in the a** this is.) It took three tries before it started
working properly and then came the long and agonizing job of removing all
the crap-ware HP puts on their machines and then updating Windows back to a
current level. This particular machine went back to pre-service pack 1, so
it was a big job. After each change I would shut down the machine to make
sure it was still shutting down properly. Then, I started installing
programs one at a time. Of course one of the first programs was my
anti-virus software. BINGO! After installing McAfee 10.0 and letting it
update, my machine would not shut down. I have used McAfee for years and
never had a problem with it except for their questionable billing practices.
I started buying the retail version at Costco and never thought another
thing about it. Since we have five computers, I have had lots of experience
with different programs and machines. At one point I tried F-Secure
anti-virus because we got three free licenses from our cable provider, but
it got to be such a system hog that none of the machines with it would run
worth a darn, so I went back to McAfee. Anyway, LONG story short, one size
doesn't not fit all when it comes to virus protection. My 742n is now
chugging happily along and shutting down properly with a copy of the free
AVG virus protection.

The point of this long post is to hopefully save someone else from the
horrible recovery process. If you suddenly start having problems on a
system that has been running fine for a long time, Windows isn't the only
problem with automatic updates. I could have saved myself a lot of grief if
I would have suspected the anti-virus updating.