How to really shut down your PC?

When you need to shut down your Windows 10 or 11 PC, “Fast Startup” may prevent you from completely shutting it down, resulting in a fresh OS reload on the next power-up. Here’s how to ensure that your computer truly goes off.

Fast Startup: Stealth Hibernation

In most cases, you do not need to shut down your computer. Sleep mode can put your computer into a low-power state that you can quickly restart whenever you need to use it again.

However, there are situations when you may wish to shut down your PC in such a way that Windows 10 or Windows 11 reloads entirely when you restart it.

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, thanks to a feature called Fast Startup, which was introduced in Windows 8 and is still present in Windows 10 and Windows 11. This allows Windows to load rapidly when you restart your computer.

So, if you have Fast Startup activated on your PC and choose “Shut Down” from the Start menu, you won’t receive a clean restart when you power it back up. Here’s how to make it right.

How to Disable Fast Startup Mode and Completely Shut Down?

To begin, it’s crucial to understand that not all PCs enable the Fast Startup option. As a result, your computer may be shutting down altogether. A typical “slow startup” can be identified if your PC takes longer to restart than it does to do a cold boot when you initially switch on your system. (As you’ll see below, restarting avoids Fast Startup.) You’ll see another way to tell in the stages ahead.

To deactivate Fast Startup in Windows 10 or Windows 11, visit Control Panel by opening the Start menu and entering “control panel,” then selecting the Control Panel icon when it appears.
In Control Panel, click "Hardware and Sound."
When the Control Panel appears, go to “Hardware and Sound.”
In Control Panel, click "Change what the power buttons do."
Click “Change what the power buttons do” under “Power Options.”
In Control Panel, click "Change settings that are currently unavailable," then uncheck "Fast Startup" if available.
To begin, go to the “Define power buttons and turn on password protection” page and click the “Change settings that are currently unavailable” option towards the top of the page. Then, at the bottom, check for the “Shutdown Settings” option. Remove the tick next to “Turn on fast startup (recommended).”

Then, when finished, click “Save Changes” and exit Control Panel.

When you shut down your Windows PC the next time, it will go down entirely, without any hibernation. And the next time you boot it up, you’ll get a clean boot with a full Windows reload.

Restarting Works Too

It’s worth noting that if you require a full clean Windows boot, you may do it simply utilizing Windows’ built-in “Restart” feature—no need to disable Fast Startup. Restarting in this manner skips Fast Startup if it is enabled. Microsoft developed it in this manner because consumers frequently restart their computers in an attempt to resolve issues, and a full shutdown and restart may refresh the Windows system kernel or your computer’s device drivers if either is trapped in a poor condition.

Once you’ve restarted your computer, it will restart entirely with a new reload of Windows, which should resolve any temporary issues you have been debugging.


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