How to Really Shut Down Windows

Sometimes you need to shut down your Windows 10 or 11 PC, but thanks to something called Fast Startup, you might not be shutting it down all the way, with a fresh OS reload on the next power-up.

RAYMOND OGLESBY @RaymondOglesby2
April 19, 2022

Sometimes you need to shut down your Windows 10 or 11 PC, but thanks to something called Fast Startup, you might not be shutting it down all the way, with a fresh OS reload on the next power-up. Let’s explore how to really shut down your desktop completely.

This is for Windows 10 and 11. Screenshots are from Windows 10

Dilbert and Manager
Copyright Scott Adams, Inc./Distributed by Universal Uclick for UFS

Fast Startup

Usually, you do not need to shut down your PC. Sleep Mode can place your PC into a low-power state that is quick to resume whenever you need to use your PC again.

But there are times when you might want to shut down your PC in a way that forces Windows 10 or 11 to reload completely when you boot it back up.

With a feature called Fast Startup, many PCs that support hibernation mode actually “shut down” to a state similar to hibernation, which saves the state of the operating system (in RAM) to a file called hiberfil.sys. This lets Windows load quickly when you power up your PC again.

So if Fast Startup is enabled on your PC and you select Shut Down in the Start menu, you are not getting a clean restart when you power it back up again.

Disable Fast Startup

It’s important to know that not all PCs support Fast Startup mode. So your PC might already be shutting down completely. (Restarting bypasses Fast Startup, as shown in the last section of this post). You will see another way to tell in the steps ahead.

To disable Fast Startup, first, open the Control Panel in Windows 10 or 11. For Windows 10, type “control panel” in the Cortana search box, then click the Control Panel app in the search results. For Windows 11, open the Start menu and type “control panel,” then click the Control Panel icon when it appears. Refer to the below image:

Windows Shutdown 1
Accessing the Control Panel in Windows 10

Next, when the Control Panel opens, click Hardware and Sound section. See the below image:

Windows Shutdown 2
Selecting the Hardware and Sound section

Now, under the Power Options section, click Change what the power buttons do link. See the following image:

Windows Shutdown 2
Selecting Change what the power buttons do link

Next, on the Define power buttons and turn on password protection page, first, click the Change settings that are currently unavailable link near the top of the page.

Now, look under the Shutdown Settings section near the bottom. If you see Turn on fast startup (recommended), remove the checkmark beside it. Refer to the below image:

Windows Shutdown 4
Turn off Fast Start

Note: If you do not see the Fast Startup option, it means your PC does not support Fast Startup and is already shutting down completely, so no changes are necessary.

Next, click Save Changes and exit the Control Panel.

The next time you shut down your Windows PC, it will shut down completely without any hibernation. And the next time you start it up, you will get a clean boot with a full reload of Windows.

Just Restart

It’s important to note that if you need a completely clean Windows boot, you can also achieve it by using the “Restart” feature built into Windows; no disabling Fast Startup is necessary. Restarting this way bypasses Fast Startup if you have it enabled. Microsoft implemented it this way because people often restart their computers to fix problems, and a full shutdown and restart might refresh the Windows system kernel or your computer’s hardware drivers if either is stuck in a bad state.

To restart your PC, first, click the Start menu, then select the Power icon (located on the left side in Windows 10 and on the right side in Windows 11). In the menu that pops up, select Restart. See the below image:

Windows Shutdown 5
Selecting Restart in Windows 10

Your PC will restart completely with a fresh reload of Windows, which will hopefully solve any temporary problems that you have been troubleshooting.

Quote For the Day

The person who dumps garbage into your mind will do you considerably more harm than the person who dumps garbage on your floor, because each load of mind garbage negatively impacts your possibilities and lowers your expectations.

Zig Ziglar

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Author: Raymond

I am Raymond Oglesby, an Information Technology (IT) specialist with 30 years in the field. I have taught Microsoft Applications and troubleshot computers in 15 countries and many States. My career was focused on mainframes and desktops from application development to implementation. I have written hundreds of programs for various architectures. I decided to start a blog to share my knowledge and experiences with you. I plan on updating this blog at least twice a week about smart phone apps to Windows. Please feel free to leave a Comment or Tweet. I would love to hear from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

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