If you have been using a Microsoft Windows-based computer for any length of time, you probably already know that the Start menu provides two ways to shut your computer down. You can click “Shut Down“, which does exactly what it says, or you can select “Restart“, which shuts your computer down and then starts it up again.
Historically shutting the computer down worked slightly differently to the way it does in recent versions of the Windows Operating System. So yes, both older and newer versions shut the machine down, leaving you needing to push the power button to start it up again. Still, newer versions of Microsoft Windows have one important difference between the two options, and we should use them in different situations.
What “Shut Down” does.
Pre Windows 8, Restart and Shut Down did the same thing, quitting open programs and turning the machine off. Then in Microsoft Windows 8, and now in Microsoft Windows 10, that changed. Why did it change? It changed because of a new feature called “Fast Startup”, designed to start up the machine quicker.
With “Shut Down”, Microsoft Windows 10 shuts down all the open programs and files. Still, it doesn’t shut down the Microsoft Windows Kernel, the bit of the Operating System that essentially allows all the other components to work. The Microsoft Windows Kernel is instead saved to disk, similar to hibernation mode so that the kernel is ready to start up quickly next time.
Now all this sounds much more convenient; I mean, who doesn’t want their computer to start up quicker? There is one catch. If something is awry with a hardware driver or similar, the shutdown process doesn’t clear that out.
What “Restart” does.
The restart process, in contrast, actually does shut down all the computer processes, including the Microsoft Windows Kernel, meaning you get an immaculate start when the computer boots back up, although it does take longer.
Hence, “Restart” and not “Shut Down” should be used when installing updates and resolving any issues you may be experiencing.
How to “Restart” your computer.
There are several ways to restart your computer—the first and most common being via the start menu. You can also hold down the CTRL+ALT+DELETE keys and select the option from the menu. Finally, if you’re old school, you can pull up the command prompt and type shutdown /r.
The disk space issue.
If you are short on disk space, you may find the whole “Shut Down” process isn’t any quicker. Obviously, if the computer is trying to save the Kernel to disk and there isn’t sufficient space, problems can arise. Check out how to Reclaim Disk Space on your Windows 10 Computer.