You may know that you can restart a laptop, or reboot. At first glance, this looks like shutting down your laptop and turning it on again. However, that is not always the case. The same goes for a desktop computer. Because both reboot and shutdown are controlled by Windows.

Knowing exactly what a reboot means and when to use it can come in handy sometime. Because this can mean the difference between getting a problem solved and being left with an unresolved problem.

What actually happens when a computer restarts, shuts down, or goes to sleep

Before we look at the difference between rebooting and shutting down and turning it back on, let’s make things a little more complicated. Because in Windows we also know something like the sleep mode by default.

Let’s take the laptop as an example. Because it can be put into sleep mode in a way that a desktop computer cannot. Namely by means of closing the valve. The other ways of putting to sleep can be used on any PC.

The Sleep Mode

Hibernation is a state in which the laptop automatically switches off if we leave it unused for a while. Usually, the display will be turned off earlier. As a result, we usually do not notice when the laptop is put into sleep mode. But usually this happens about 25 minutes after we stop using the laptop.

The sleep mode can also be manually switched on in Windows 10 and Windows 11 on the laptop. And by:

  • Close the lid, or close the laptop.
  • Pressing a so-called sleep key on the keyboard.
  • Press the on/off button.

We can then wake up the laptop from sleep mode by:

  • To open the valve.
  • Pressing any key.
  • Move the mouse.
  • Pressing the on/off button.

Once a laptop goes into hibernation, all processes are stopped and the state the PC is in, such as operations in progress and apps and documents that are open, are stored in memory. The laptop will then be put into a mode in which it consumes considerably less power.

Using less power means still using power. This means that the laptop’s battery will continue to drain when it is not connected to power.

A big advantage of putting the laptop in sleep mode is that you can immediately continue what you were doing as soon as you take the laptop out of sleep mode.

Putting a laptop to sleep and wake up also means that all processes and apps will resume from the point where they stopped.

Shut Down and Turn on the Laptop

If you shut down a laptop, as well as a desktop computer, you would expect that everything that is active on it will be stopped and shut down. So that all apps, drivers and running processes are not only stopped, but also completely closed.

That is, if your PC supports hibernation in Windows. Hibernation mode in Windows is a state similar to sleep mode. But while hibernate stores all processes apps and open documents in memory, hibernate saves them in a separate file on the hard drive.

The advantage of hibernation mode is that the power can be completely turned off in the PC, but you can immediately pick up where you left off as soon as you turn the PC back on.

Quick Boot

For PCs that support sleep mode, an extra has been devised in Windows 11, but also in Windows 10. Namely: fast startup.

The Fast Startup feature is enabled by default in Windows 10 and 11 on PCs that support hibernation.

A trick is used to enable fast startup of a PC that has been shut down.

When turning off, all apps and open files will be completely closed as usual. Also, all users are logged out.

This puts the PC in a state comparable to when the PC has just started up, but has not yet been put into use. In that state, the core of Windows is loaded, as well as all the drivers necessary for the PC to function properly.

The trick that is then performed with the help of the Quick Launch function is that Windows saves the state of the PC to a sleep file on the hard disk when you shut down. Only then will the power be turned off.

As you can imagine, it saves a lot of time when the PC only needs to load the contents of the snooze file into the internal memory when it boots up to be ready to use.

By the way, the Quick Launch function will not be used if your PC does not support sleep mode.

In that case, when the PC is turned on, the core of Windows and all necessary drivers will always be restarted and loaded.

We’ll get to why that’s important to know now.

Restarting or Rebooting Your Laptop and Why It May Be Necessary

The question that Windows almost always asks you during an update is whether you want to shut down or restart your laptop after installing the update. The same goes of course for your desktop computer.

But the observant user may have already noticed the following. If you choose the Shut down option , the PC will be restarted after the update and then shut down.

This is because Windows wants to make sure that the operating system is completely reloaded after the update, including the core and drivers, when the PC is turned on for the first time after the update.

Errors can occur in both the core and drivers while working with the PC. Errors that will not always immediately cause a problem, but can lead to a problem arising in the long run.

Therefore, in addition to being able to shut down the PC, every PC has the Restart option . In all cases, the Restart option ensures that Windows is completely shut down before restarting.

You can restart your laptop as follows:

  • Click the Start button .
  • Click the power button icon in the lower right corner.
  • In the options menu that then opens, click on the Restart option.

You can also restart your laptop by:

  • Right click on Start button .
  • In the shortcut menu that opens, point to Shut down or sign out.
  • This opens a menu with additional options. In this menu, click the Restart option.

Restarting a laptop makes many problems disappear like snow in the sun. Why you must use the Restart option for this will become clear after reading this article. The same goes of course for a desktop computer.

In other words: with every PC it is advisable to first try a restart, or a reboot, and see if that solves the problem.


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