Windows: When shutdown doesn’t mean shutdown

January 21, 2022

Yesterday I learned that Windows’ ‘shutdown’ doesn’t actually shut down your PC or laptop under the default Windows 10 (and later?) settings. Instead, it puts the PC/laptop into a partial/deep hibernation state, ready for fast startup when you next press the power button. Over time, your computer can become sluggish or exhibit odd behaviour, so your best option then is to do a restart, as this shuts down all Windows services and restarts them from scratch. It seems this is why most IT helpdesk people often suggest restarting the computer before they try other possible solutions.

There are various ways to make your computer shut down fully:

  • Single instance: Press Shift as you click Shutdown. This forces a full shutdown, but you have to do it every time.
  • Permanent setting change: Change the setting for fast startup, which is turned on by default (Note: you may not be able to change this setting in a managed corporate environment):
    • Go to the Start button and type power then choose Power & Sleep Settings.
    • Under Related Settings, click Additional power settings.
    • On the Power Options window, click Choose what the power buttons do (on the left).
    • Clear the Turn on fast startup checkbox, then click Save Changes.

How do you know if your computer has fast startup activated? Well, you can check the setting (see the 2nd bullet above), or you can check Task Manager.

To check via Task Manager:

  1. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del and then click Task Manager.
  2. Click the Performance tab (click More Details if you don’t see tabs across the top of the Task Manager window).
  3. On the Performance tab, check the Up Time value below the graph—that will tell you how long your computer has actually been ‘on’ even when you thought it might have been shutdown fully (in dd:hh:mm:ss format). If it’s many days, then it may be time for a restart, or something more permanent, such as changing the fast startup setting.

Performance tab under Task Manager, with an arrow pointing to the Up Time value


See also:

[Links last check January 2022]

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