Hold Down the Power Button – A Quick Tip (Mar 2018)

Technology Tips – Published March 2018 in the Guide and Digest

By Don Trauger – Kennett


I had 3 calls in January 2018 from residents that said their computers had locked up. They said they could not move the mouse arrow, could not open or close any programs and worse yet could not shut down their computers normally. I wondered if Microsoft released an update that was causing the problem. That’s always possible but I told them to try the following simple fix. Hold down the power button on the computer for 10 seconds or so or until the screen is dark. Wait about 15-20 seconds then push the power button to start the computer again. This feature has been built into computers for years and it’s not unique to Windows 10 or any other version. Now you may wonder why a lock up can occur. The problem lies in the memory of the computer and over time as files get opened and closed bits and pieces of files may remain that can contribute to a lock up problem. After restarting the computer its memory will be refreshed with all the necessary files reloaded to run the computer normally. You may ask “Doesn’t it do that when I shut down and start it up the next time?” No it doesn’t – at least with Windows 10 and Windows 8. Windows 7 and earlier versions will refresh the memory when shut down and restarted.

Beginning with Windows 8 and continuing with Windows 10, Microsoft introduced a new feature called “Fast startup”. This feature saves everything in memory to a single file when you click “Shut down”. The next time when you power up the computer this feature springs into action and tells the computer to read this file. Since most of what you need to get started is in this file it really speeds up the boot (startup) time. Typically a 30-50 percent decrease will be noted in boot time compared to a conventional start up process.

This feature is still welcomed even though it may cause a lock up to occur slightly more frequently as compared to a Windows 7 computer. If you are using a Windows 10 or Windows 8 computer I recommend that that once a week, before you shut down the computer, you click “Restart” to allow the computer to restart and refresh the memory. Allow it to come up to the Desktop screen and let it rest there for 2 minutes or so. Then shut it down as you normally would.

NOTE: Normal shut down and restart is done by clicking the 4 pane white icon in the lower left corner of the screen and clicking the circle icon with a vertical slash, which is just above the 4 pane white icon. Then click “Shut down” or “Restart”. Don’t use the power button to shut down unless it’s necessary!

Any questions that you may have regarding computers will be discussed at our monthly meetings on the 3rd Tuesday at 7 pm upstairs in the Community Center.