Applies to: Tablets, Mobiles & Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP (although if you’re still using Windows 7, Vista or XP, you shouldn’t be using them on the internet!)

Shutdown, an option I click on my computer every day, but do I actually know the difference between Shutdown, Sleep and Restart (other than the obvious)?  Spoiler alert: I didn’t know, but now I do, and you can too.

The Problem:

Earlier this week I popped to my parents and used my Mum’s laptop to check the weather. Now I know some scientists will disagree with me, but the sun should be round. Not a strange oval shape…


The sun should be like the one on the left…

However, on my Mum’s laptop, it looks more like the sun on the right (kind of a stretched oval) than the one on the left (a nice round sun).

The laptop is running Windows 10, not with the anniversary update.


Detective work requires a detective penguin…

‘Fixes’ I tried:

  • I looked at the screen resolution, it was set right, so I changed it to the wrong one, and set it back again
    This didn’t fix it
  • Turned off the computer (shutdown) and back on again
    This didn’t fix it
  • Restarted the computer (using the restart option from the power menu on the start menu)
    This fixed it!

Now, because I had no idea why restarting it worked, but turning it off and on again didn’t, I did a little bit of detective work…

Here is what I found:


Restart is a full clean system start, this is the same as turning your computer off and back on again when Fast Startup is OFF. This fully applies Windows updates and any other changes which require a restart. If you disconnect the power while it is restarting this can cause problems.

Tablets & Smartphones: This is when you press and hold the power button (in general) and tap on “Restart”


The computer is still turned on, but only using a small amount of power. This will not apply any Windows updates but will mean when you next need your computer it will be up and running really quickly. It stores any open programs, documents and settings in memory. If you disconnect the power while it is in sleep mode it can cause problems.

Tablets & Smartphones: This is when you just tap the on/off button and the screen goes on / off instantly.

Fast Shutdown / Fast Startup (Windows 10, 8.1* & 8)

Often the default on Windows 10, 8.1 & 8. This is not a full shutdown, it is a combination of Shutdown & hibernation (kind of like sleep), which means some things are stored on the hard disk to help Windows start up quickly. It does not install (some) Windows updates. It does not start up Windows from a “Clean” start. This means some left over settings/problems might persist over multiple sessions.

You can disconnect the power when your PC has finished shutting down.

Shutdown / Startup (Windows 7, Vista, XP, Tablets & Smartphones. Windows 10, 8.1 with Fast Startup turned off)

This is essentially the same as the Restart option apart from the computer powers down, and it is safe to unplug and remove the power from the device once it is shut down. Everything is fully shut down and Windows or your operating system starts from a clean starting point. As I summed up in my “Have you turned it off and on again” post… It resets the system to a known, good initial state.

One last thing…

I have set my mum’s laptop to NOT use “Fast Startup”, this adds a few seconds onto the time it takes to load Windows, but it should stop strange things like this happening in the future.

[Update: blog post now published]… How-To: Turn off Fast Startup.

So many restart options, I do wonder why it is not simpler…
Mike =)
*It is called ‘Fast Boot’ in Windows 8.1 & 8