Ahh… so you are a PC novice like me, right? Let me tell you, shutting down a computer is no rocket science, trust me. All you need to do is press that power button (a.k.a the shutdown button) on the front or side, or just click on “Shut down” in the Windows Start menu, and voila! But hey, did you know that “shutdown” in Windows 10 or Windows 11 doesn’t really mean shutting down the PC? Crazy, right? I mean, are computer companies that skeptical about our abilities to handle our own gadgets? Or is there something else happening here? Let me break it down for you.

Hibernate Mode – Do You Remember It?

The good old Windows 2000 hibernate feature! Do you remember that? It was a lifesaver back then. You could save all your data on the hard drive before shutting down, so when you turned the computer on again, it would boot up faster. This was a huge deal because older laptops and PCs consumed a lot of power, so hibernate mode offered an excellent way to get back to work without having to keep the laptop on standby or sleep mode, which would still use power.

Over the years, however, hibernate mode has lost its charm, and a new feature called hybrid sleep has taken its place. This feature not only puts the computer to sleep but also saves the data in the hard drive, so it wakes up faster than in hibernation mode. But here’s the kicker – even if there is a power loss, the computer will still recover its previous state from the hard drive or SSD. Pretty cool, right?

In essence, hibernation mode and hybrid sleep are the same things. The only difference is that, in hibernation mode, all your data is saved to the hard drive while it can be lost if there’s a power loss. In hybrid sleep, on the other hand, Windows saves your data in memory and on the SSD or HDD so that even in case of a blackout you won’t lose anything.

What Happens When You Click Shut Down In Windows 10 or Windows 11?

So now that we have that cleared up, let’s circle back to the title of the article – what really goes down when you click on the “shut down” button? Well, I recently discovered that Microsoft has come up with a nifty feature called “Fast Startup” which works in tandem with hybrid sleep to change the way our computers shut down. It’s pretty neat, so let me break it down for you!

Fast Startup is actually enabled by default on Windows 10 and Windows 11, and here’s how it works: it saves the state of the Windows kernel, which is essentially the core components of the operating system, onto the disk. This happens only after you log off from Windows, so unfortunately any unsaved data from your ongoing programs or files won’t be saved. But hey, it’s still a nifty feature that saves you time—no more waiting around for your computer to start up from scratch every time you turn it on!

In essence, one has to power off their computer and then power it on again, Fast Startup can come in handy. Although it is not exactly the same as hibernation or a complete shutdown, it still brings your PC close enough to a normal shutdown. With Fast Startup, your computer will not take forever to start up again, as it won’t have to reinitialize all the crucial Windows components. This means shorter boot times for you, which is always a good thing!

However, it’s important to note that Fast Startup can have its drawbacks too.

Problem With Well-Acclaimed Microsoft Windows Fast Startup Feature

Sometimes, certain issues that would normally disappear with a full shutdown may still persist if you have Fast Startup enabled. This is because Fast Startup doesn’t completely shut down all kernel processes, and therefore some misbehaving device drivers or other issues may linger when you restart your computer.

I myself have experienced some really puzzling problems due to Fast Startup, which I was completely unaware of at the time. It’s worth mentioning that when it comes to restarting your computer, Microsoft has made an interesting decision. If you hit “restart,” your PC will actually go through a full shutdown before starting up again. On the other hand, if you choose to “shut down,” your computer will not fully shut down, which may seem counterintuitive at first.

One has to admit, it’s pretty crazy! But fear not, there are ways to bypass Fast Startup if you prefer your computer to start fresh every time you power it off.

How To Disable Fast Startup In Windows 10 or Windows 11

Enlisted are 3 simple steps to disable “Fast Startup” in Windows 10 or Windows 11:

  1. Personally, I like to disable Fast Startup by going to Control Panel, then Power Settings, and selecting what the Power buttons do. disable Fast Startup by going to Control Panel, then Power Settings, and selecting what the Power buttons do
  2. From here click on “change settings that are currently unavailable.” to unlock the checkboxes. change settings that are currently unavailable
  3. Finally, uncheck the “turn on fast startup (recommended)” box. turn on fast startup (recommended)

I know it’s not the most intuitive spot to locate this setting, but it’s a quick and easy solution. However, if you don’t want to disable Fast Startup entirely, you can still do a complete shutdown by holding the Shift key and clicking Shut down from the Start menu. Honestly, if you have a modern system with a speedy SSD, you might not even notice a difference in startup time.

If you’re curious about how much time you’re saving with Fast Startup on versus off, I encourage you to grab a stopwatch and test it out! It’s a totally normal thing to do with your free time, and who knows, you might just discover it’s worth the few seconds of saved startup time. After all, we all love a speedy computer!