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Shutting Down Your PC May Not Put a Stop to Your Processes

Shutting Down Your PC May Not Put a Stop to Your Processes

You’re probably familiar with a situation where your technology is on the fritz and someone says to you “Why don’t you turn it off and turn it back on?” What you have no way of knowing is that by turning it off and turning it back on, you aren’t getting the same result you would if you simply restarted the machine.

It sounds ludicrous, but turning your computer off doesn’t accomplish the same thing as restarting it does, at least not anymore. Let’s take a look at the differences.

What’s the Difference Between the Shut Down and Restart Processes?

In older versions of Windows, up until Windows 7, shutting your computer down and restarting it resulted in the same process. The computer would shut down, RAM would be reset, and once you started the computer back up, you’d start with no elective processes running. With the introduction of Microsoft’s first “metro” OS, Windows 8, this process changed. In these OSs, Microsoft has a new startup process called Fast Startup. With this feature, shutting down a device and restarting a device have two separate processes.

Shut Down

The presence of Fast Startup shortens the process of starting up your machine, it does this for shutting down as well.

When a user commands the computer to shut down, their programs and files are shut down, but their OS is placed in standby mode. This shuts the computer down, unlike the hibernate and standby options, but it also makes Windows faster to reactivate. Since most of the computer’s processes aren’t stopped in their tracks, the issues that got you to shut it down in the first place will still be there when it is rebooted. 


When a user selects to restart, however, the devices puts a stop to all processes. This is why it takes a little longer to restart than it would to just shut down. It is a fresh boot at the motherboard level. 

The difference is in the shutdown process. Funny enough, by “shutting down” a computer, it actually leaves more components active than a restart does, making a restart the recommended process to use when troubleshooting an issue.

Next time you hear “turn your computer off and on again,” or “reboot,” you’ll know that restarting your computer is the way to go.

If you would like more information about how your operating system works, or any other technology issue you always wondered about, subscribe to our blog.

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