Your Windows PC may not be fully shutting down — here's how to fix it

Dell XPS 13
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Are you Team Shutdown? Or Team Standby? If it's the former, you may have been inadvertently batting for the other side the whole time.

We've always been told that it's better to fully shut down our PC when we're done with it, so it can fully reload and refresh everything when we fire it up again. After all, if we're running one of the best Windows laptops, it deserves to be treated right.

But thanks to a tucked-away setting in Windows that most of us leave switched on, shutting down our computers isn't actually shutting them down like we think it is. Rather, it's just putting them into a state of hibernation.

Thankfully, it's really easy to turn off this feature — known as fast start-up — whether you're running Windows 11 or are still on Windows 10. Here's how to do it.

Note: This guide and screenshots are based on Windows 11, though the process is the same for Windows 10.

How to fully shut down a Windows PC

1. Enter the control panel. The easiest way to do this is to open the Start menu and type "control panel" then click on it when it appears.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

2. Click Hardware and Sound.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

3. Under Power Options, click Change what the power buttons do.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

4. Click Change settings that are currently unavailable, which will allow you to change the grayed-out settings below.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

5. The settings at the bottom should now be available to adjust. Next, uncheck the box next to Turn on fast start-up then click Save changes.

Note: If this box is already unchecked, or you don't see it on the list, your computer doesn't support this feature, or it's already disabled.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

And, we're done. It's also worth noting that if you'd prefer to keep fast start-up turned on, then restarting your PC manually will still fully refresh your PC the same as a full shutdown would.

Now you know how to shut down Windows properly, you might also find our guides on how to upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 10 or how to enable God Mode in Windows 11 or 10 helpful. 

Dale Fox
Freelance Journalist

Dale Fox is a freelance journalist based in the UK. He's been a tech nerd ever since childhood, when he used the money from his first job as a paperboy to buy a subscription to GamesMaster magazine. Dale was previously a presenter and editor in China, where he also worked as a copywriter for OnePlus at its Shenzhen HQ.