Fast startup is a feature first implemented in Windows 8 and carried over to Windows 10 that provides a faster boot time when starting up your PC. It's a handy feature and one that most people use without even knowing, but there are others who disable it immediately when they get their hands on a new PC.
Let's take a look at exactly how fast startup works, why you might want to enable or disable it, and how to do so.
What is fast startup?
Windows PCs typically operate in a number of Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) power states. An S0 power state, for example, is when your PC is running and ready to respond to your input. There are a number of sleep states, including S1, S2, and S3, and there's also a hybrid sleep state where hibernation is used in tandem with a sleep state.
Hibernation is considered an S4 power state. While hibernating, your PC will seem like it's completely off, but there will be a saved hibernation file ready to be used to boot back to where you were during your last user session. Some power is usually still routed to peripherals so that you can, say, tap your keyboard and have the PC boot.
An S5 power state (soft off) is when your PC is shut down and rebooted completely. There's no hibernation file and no saved user session. There is also a G3 power state, which is when your PC consumes absolutely no power and is completely turned off.
With fast startup enabled, choosing to shut down your PC might look like you're completely shutting things down, but in reality, your PC is entering a mix between a shutdown and hibernation. A hibernation file is indeed used, although it is smaller than usual. Why? You're logged off before the file is created, meaning your session is not recorded. The speed boost comes from the Windows kernel being saved on your hard drive and loaded when booting.
Is your PC truly shutting down?
While fast startup is a pretty harmless tool that can deliver a considerable startup speed boost, especially to PCs using hard-disk drives (HDD), some people prefer to have their PC truly shut down when they click the "Shut down" button on their PC.
In a post on the PC Master Race subreddit, a user pointed out that fast startup was re-enabled in a Windows 10 update following the release of the Fall Creators Update. Following the April 2018 Windows 10 update, Fast Startup was again re-enabled on my own PC, and it seems to have kicked in again following the May 2019 Update.
If you're among the group of people who disable fast startup on their Windows 10 PC, you might want to recheck the settings to see if it's still off.
Why disable fast startup?
Leaving fast startup enabled shouldn't harm anything on your PC — it's a feature built into Windows — but there are a few reasons why you might want to nevertheless disable it.
One of the major reasons is if you're using Wake-on-LAN, which will likely have problems when your PC is shut down with fast startup enabled. Others would like to save the hard drive space that is usually taken up with the hibernation file, and Linux users will likely see complications with dual boot and virtualization. Furthermore, some users have even reported that power buttons on their keyboard will not work and fans in their PCs will continue spinning. These problems are by no means across the board, but they can prove to be frustrating. Finally, Windows 10 updates might not install properly if you have fast startup enabled.
Your reason for disabling fast startup might simply have to do with wanting to see your PC truly shut down when you choose to shut down, especially when working with a speedy solid-state drive (SSD), or to have the processor (CPU) uptime reset after booting.
How to enable and disable fast startup on Windows 10
If you'd like to see how your PC performs without fast startup enabled, you can disable it in just a few steps:
- Right-click the Start button.
- Type Control Panel and hit Enter on your keyboard.
Click Power Options.
- Click Choose what the power buttons do.
Click Change settings that are currently unavailable.
- Click Turn on fast startup (recommended) so that the checkmark disappears.
Click Save changes.
If you want to re-enable fast startup at any point, simply repeat the steps so a checkmark appears next to Turn on fast startup.
More Windows 10 resources
For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:
- Windows 10 on Windows Central – All you need to know
- Windows 10 help, tips, and tricks
- Windows 10 forums on Windows Central
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