Fast Startup can often be slower, and perhaps even less stable.
“Fast Startup” was added in Windows 8. It’s on by default and applies when you boot or reboot your machine.
Much like Hibernate, Fast Startup reuses some of the machine’s previous state so as not to have to reload everything from scratch. The theory is that it saves time, and it often does.
But in order to provide that speedup when Fast Start is enabled, “Shut down” doesn’t really mean shut down. And that can have side effects.
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Fast Startup has been implicated in some boot problems, and ironically, can make some machines boot slower. The option to turn off Fast Startup is in Control Panel under “Change what the power buttons do”.
Turn it off
Fast Startup settings are buried in Control Panel.
Click on the Start menu and start typing Control Panel. Click on its icon when it appears in search results.
In Control Panel, search for power.
Click on Change what the power buttons do.
If necessary, click Change settings that are currently unavailable.
Now you can uncheck the check box for “Turn on fast startup (recommended)”.
Fast Startup is enabled by default, and unchecking it will turn it off.
(If the checkbox is not present, then either Fast Startup is not supported on your machine, or the ability to control it is unavailable.)
When enabled, Fast Startup causes Windows to not completely shut down when you “shut down” your computer. Power will be turned off, of course, but much like Hibernate, portions of the operating system will be saved in their current state, rather than resetting them to some initial state.
When disabled, Fast Startup does not do any of that. Instead, when you reboot the system will load completely anew, rather than from some partially saved state.
There are (at least) two other scenarios that will bypass Fast Startup without turning it off completely:
- Restart: Since this is often invoked by software setup programs which really do need everything to be reloaded from scratch, Fast Startup doesn’t apply.
- SHIFT+Shutdown: If you hold down the SHIFT key when clicking on the Start menu’s Shut down item, Fast Startup is skipped.
Diagnosing boot problems
Now that Fast Startup has been turned off, power down your machine completely and start it up again. Depending on the type of boot problem you’ve been experiencing, see if that problem remains.
If the problem remains, you can eliminate Fast Startup from the suspect list. If you care to, you can revisit the steps above and turn it back on again. Or not.
If, however, the problem goes away, you have two choices:
- Use that as a clue to further diagnose the problem (or as further information as you go seek help). The fact that turning off Fast Startup made things work does not tell you exactly what’s wrong; it still could be many things. But it’s a clue. (As I understand it, device drivers that don’t fully or properly support hibernation are one of the leading suspects, but it still could be just about anything.)
- Live with slower boots. How much slower your boot becomes will depend on your machine and its configuration. I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that some machines even boot faster with Fast Startup turned off.
If you can live with it, this is a very pragmatic approach to the problem and probably the solution I would choose myself. If you care to, try enabling it again after a few months in case a Windows update of some sort resolved your underlying issue.
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