Windows 8: difference between power down and reboot

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 25, 2012
Updated • Dec 2, 2012
Tutorials, Windows 8

When you power down a PC running Windows 7, the operating system gets loaded fully again on the next start of the system. The same is true when you reboot the PC. On Windows 8, things are different which can lead to a problem that I have been facing lately. When you select to power down a machine running Windows 8, part of the operating system gets saved to the disk so that it can be loaded again on the next start. That's great most of the time as it speeds up the loading of the system, but not so great if you need the computer to load the full operating system in case you are running into an issue that requires the system to be fully loaded anew.

It is like visiting your favorite website again only to notice that the information have not been updated because it is being loaded from the browser cache instead of the web server it is hosted on.

The issue that I faced was the following: sometimes when booting into Windows 8 neither mouse nor keyboard worked immediately or after some seemingly random time of working with the system. I could not use the mouse or keyboard to reboot the PC, and the power button only powered the system down. The problem with that was that the issue did not go away since the system was not fully loaded on the next restart. There are likely other scenarios where this may be an issue.

My problem now was that I could not get the system to restart properly since I could not select the restart option when the operating system was loaded, and since Windows itself did not recognize the issue that I was facing. I also could not make use of the F8 option to display the boot menu to run system restore or other recovery options.

So how do you force the system to reboot when you can't do it when the operating system is loaded? I could not find an answer to that that works universally. I did however come up with two options that resolved the issue for me.

The first was the Mouse without Borders software that was running on the network the Windows 8 PC was connected to. While I was not able to see a mouse cursor,  I noticed that it must have been there somehow as menu items were highlighted when I started to move the mouse. I moved the mouse to the lower right corner of the screen to bring up the Charms Bar, select Power and then the reboot option.

I also noticed that the reset button on the PC, if properly connected and configured, reboots the Windows 8 PC properly. You can alternatively configure Windows 8 to turn off fast startup. This is done in the Power Options control panel applet.

windows 8 fast start

The reset button works for me, but if your PC for whatever reason does not ship with one, I'd highly suggest to disable fast startup to avoid these issues. Sure, the system may start a few seconds slower when the feature is disabled, but that may be a small price to pay in the long run.


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  1. djnforce9 said on December 6, 2012 at 1:30 am

    I never actually knew about these settings until reading this article. Come to think of it, I am starting to wonder if that “Fast Startup” is what killed my SSD because it would have required a very excessive amounts of writes to the disk upon each shutdown and I use my PC every day. It just so happened to die on me while Windows was loading up too. Then again, it was more likely just a defective drive but when I get a replacement, I’m not taking any chances.

  2. spider623 said on December 5, 2012 at 1:56 am

    grub did the work for my since i always dual boot but even on my laptop i never had any issues with shutdown my bet is that your hardware doesn’t support it

  3. Schmurtz said on October 27, 2012 at 1:47 am

    Disable fast boot on windows 8!!? IT seems to be a bad idea, just type “shutdown /r /t 0” to do a full reboot or “shutdown /s /full /t 0” to maje a dull shutdown without hybrid file.

    1. anony said on October 28, 2012 at 2:15 pm

      And how do you type that when the keyboard isn’t working? If you make a shortcut for that, how do you click that when the mouse isn’t working either.

      And what if you’re doing a critical work when the lock up happen and you haven’t saved yet?

      Unless you only do facebook and social media stuff on your PC. This is a serious issue.

  4. none said on October 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm
  5. Tim said on October 25, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    I remember reading about doing a cold boot, instead of a hybrid boot by using /full, but looking at the following post it seems that it doesn’t work:

    Would /r (Full shutdown and restart the computer) do a full shutdown instead of hybrid?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 25, 2012 at 6:56 pm

      Tim while I can’t say with 100% certainty, it seems to be the way. A hybrid boot is done with /hybrid

  6. Transcontinental said on October 25, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    More I read about users’ first experiences with Windows 8, less I am attracted to the new OS. I’m aware every new system has its lot of new features, but this time it really sounds (& looks) like a revolution … Anyway, I’ll have to face it, sticking with Microsoft will leave me no choice, be it tomorrow or the day after.
    Reading this article, I just try to imagine what others and myself would have done in such a situation. I mean, it’s the fundamentals which have been reconsidered, like the alphabet when learning a new language thiis would be Hebrew or Chinese !

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