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Most of us in the business world use Microsoft Windows, you probably already know that the Start menu gives you two ways to shut down your computer’s operations. You can click Shut Down, which basically does what the name describes. The computer is off, and you move along your day.  There is also the option of Restart, which shuts down your computer for a moment, but then starts it up again.

But aside from the fact that the computer does not come back on again after you click Shut Down, There is another sneaky trick that Microsoft has added in newer updates of the Windows operating system, there is actually another important difference between the two choices. They do not shut down your computer in the same way, and they should be used in different situations.

What does ‘Shut Down’ actually do?

In older versions of Windows, these two options did the same thing.   They would close all your programs and power off your computer.  After Windows 8 but more previently in windows 10 there is a new “feature” called Fast Startup which gets rid of the long shutdown and startup process of your computer.  This is wonderful for tablets, and just trying to “get to work!”  but it can cause some issues, namely doesn’t shut down everything even though you think you did because you “shut down”! and it is turned on now by default.

With Shut Down now Windows 10 shuts down all programs and files you are working on but doesn’t shut down the Windows kernel, that is the operating system itself and what it deems is important.  Because of this, your computer doesn’t really get “shut down” and starts off where it left off.  If you are experiencing problems that IT tells you to “reboot” but the machine doesn’t really “reboot” likely a reboot will fix it, but we’re stuck in this cycle that it isn’t “really” rebooting.

Now we’re in a world where something that a refresh restart would fix a problem and the end user thinks they did reboot (because they told the computer to!) but it didn’t “actually” reboot.

What does “Restart” actually do?

 Restart, in contrast, does shut down all of the computer’s processes, including the kernel. That means you get a totally clean start when the computer boots up again, though it takes longer to get everything running.

According to Microsoft, a restart should be used when installing updates/software and to resolve any errors.  So long story short if you are having problems using your computer do a restart itself.  If you are frozen or is giving off some other error, you should use Restart rather than Shut Down.

There are several ways to restart, besides using the Start Menu.   you can hold down the CTRL+ALT+DELETE keys, click one of the icons on the Lock Screen.  And if you’re a computer nerd and remember the DOS days you can pull up a command prompt and type shutdown/r.

So, what about the term Reboot? For most people, Reboot and Restart mean the same thing.   However technically this means that the computer has no more power. Clearing out the power in the physical components of the machine which can sometimes help with issues hardware replated.

But I “MAC”

If you use a Mac instead of PC, it has similar options. Use Restart if your computer starts acting strangely, for instance if your keyboard or mouse are acting oddly.  Use shutdown if you are going to be away from your computer for a while.