Fast Forward

Help File

By Rob Pegoraro
Sunday, July 20, 2008

Q When I shut down my computer, I get a notice that "ccSvcHst.exe" is not responding. What does this mean, and how do I correct it?

A "CcSvcHst" stands for "Common Client Service Host," a background component of Symantec's security software. And the solution to this problem (as explained here two winters ago) is simple enough: When an unresponsive program prevents Windows from shutting down on its own, click that dialog's "End Now" button to terminate the stubborn program.

What is not so simple is why we have to decipher such inscrutable eight-character file names as "ccSvcHst.exe" more than a dozen years after Windows 95 supposedly banished them. Why can't Symantec identify this file with something closer to English, like "Common Client Service Host.exe" or, better yet, "Symantec Common Client Service Host.exe"?

Brendon Woirhaye, Symantec's director of quality engineering, said the company must use a DOS-vintage short file name to adapt to the practices of some computer manufacturers that bundle Symantec's utilities. He said the tools these companies use to automate the installation of such add-on programs as Symantec's Norton Internet Security can't read long file names.

Woirhaye added that such "very antiquated" installer software is not widespread in the industry, but Symantec can't produce different versions of its software for different PC manufacturers.

Had Woirhaye named the firms that are still using such fossilized systems to configure their PCs, I would mock them here. Instead, all I can offer is this general observation: It's pathetic how often progress in the computer industry has to wait on the least motivated -- or least competent -- companies in the business.

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 Turn to Thursday's Business section or visit anytime for his Fast Forward column.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company