Disable Shutdown Tracker

Disable Shutdown Tracker on Windows Server 2008

By design, whenever you shutdown or reboot a Windows Server 2008, an Event Tracker dialog box appears. Many techies get annoyed with having to give a reason for every reboot.  Their irritation is compounded because after they click restart they cannot just click OK, they have to type something in the Comments box.

Incidentally, I have rarely seen anyone type anything sensible in the Comment box, which is another reason to disable the Shutdown Event Tracker. Turn off Shutdown Event Tracker in Windows Server 2003

Topics for Shutdown Event Tracker


Whenever I install a test Windows Server 2008 machine, one of my first tasks is to turn off this annoying shutdown feature.

There are two methods of disabling the Shutdown Event Tracker, either you can adjust a Group Policy setting (best), or else edit the registry.

Group Policy Method to Disable Shutdown Event Tracker

My favourite method to disable the Shutdown Dialog box is through Group Policy.  Here is an occasion where you need to pay attention to detail, there are at least three traps for the unwary.  The first trap is applying the policy to the entire domain instead of just one OU.  Another place that you could apply the disable shutdown tracker setting is to the Domain Controllers Group Policy. 

As you launch gpedit.msc, ask yourself this, would this policy be part of the Computer Configuration or the User configuration?  The answer is that Shutdown Event Tracker is a Computer Configuration.  Incidentally as you type gpedit remember the .msc extension otherwise nothing happens.  See more on gpedit.

Complete Group Policy path to disable Shutdown Event Tracker:

Local Computer (or Default Domain) Policy
    Computer Configuration
       Administrative Templates Display Shutdown Event Tracker Enable Group Policy
               Display Shutdown Event Tracker

Note 1: Choose the correct setting, Display Shutdown Event Tracker.  See screen shot to the right.

Note 2: Don’t fall at the last hurdle, make sure that you disable Display Shutdown Event Tracker (Avoid the Enable box).

Note 3:  One more trick.  Go to the cmd prompt and type gpupdate /force.  The advantage of this technique is that you can test the settings without actually rebooting the Windows 2008 Server.

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Registry Method to Disable The Microsoft Shutdown Event Tracker

I hear rumours that you can also hack the registry to Disable Microsoft’s Shutdown Event Tracker.  I have to confess that I could not get this official method to work.  When I read the information it appeared that ‘ShutdownReasonUI’ is the critical DWORD.

Registry path

This is what Microsoft say: "Shutdown Event Tracker references the Group Policy key. If the Group Policy key is not present, then this key can be configured as ‘0’ (off), or ‘1’ (on)."

What worries me is this sentence.  "If the Group Policy key is not present and this key is invalid or missing, then Shutdown Event Tracker is off."

Peter Buelens writes with this insight:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows NT\Reliability]
0 = Disable
1 = Enable

Clearly I am missing something here.  I tried saving the registry, making the change to Shutdown Event Tracker, then saving the registry again.  Next, I examined the two registry files with Windiff. Nothing.  No significant difference.  Naturally there were time differences, and I could see the Group Policy sequence numbers updating, but nothing in the above HKLM \Reliability\ or anywhere nearby.  Puzzling.

Jason Murray kindly wrote in with the following enlightening information.

HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows NT\Reliability\SnapShot

Enabled the value is 1
Disabled the value is 0
Not Configured – No key at all

How did I find this setting?

Opened up the GPO editor
Enabled the settings
Ran gpupdate /force
Finally, I checked the output under Administrative Policies. It lists the registry location there.

Another Problem: Shutdown Access is Denied. (5)

This is often a permissions problem, or to be precise a lack of the user right to ‘Force shutdown from a remote system’.

One solution is to launch Secpol.msc and adjust the settings as follows:

  1. Local Polices
  2.    User Rights Assignments  (Scroll down)
  3.        Force shutdown from a remote system
  4.        Add the user who needs to remotely restart the server.

Trap :  You typed Secpol, and forgot the .msc extension thus: Secpol.msc

Disable Shutdown Event Tracker in Server 2012 »

Summary of Disabling Shutdown Event Tracker

The Group Policy provides an elegant solution to those who dislike the Shutdown Event Tracker menu.  If you try this technique, pay attention to detail, there are several places where you could configure the wrong command to disable the shutdown tracker.

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Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Topics:

Server 2008 Home   • Overview   • What’s New?   • Server Manager   • Install

Hyper-V   • Windows LDP.exe download   • Group Policy   • Remote restart Windows server

Network Performance Monitor   • Windows Server 2012   • SP1 Review   • IPAM 3 Review