What Should You Do If Your Computer Won’t Shut Down?

You’re all done with your computer and you’re ready to shut it down.  You go through the process but the computer either doesn’t respond or it appears to shut down and really goes into a sort of sleep mode (in other words, you type or wiggle the mouse and it wakes up again.)  You know you want to avoid holding in the power button because that’s just not good for your computer.  So, what to do when your computer won’t shut down?

Stuck Program

There are several issues that could be causing your computer to behave poorly when you give it a shut-down command.  Most commonly, there is a program or application running in the background that needs to be manually turned off.  To fix this you would:

  1. Hit your start button and do what you would normally do to initiate a shut-down.
  2. When that doesn’t do the trick, hit CTRL+ALT+DEL and go into the Task Manager.
  3. Open the Processes tab, look in the CPU column and select and processes that are showing that they are VERY active (this is shown with a number over 24 that seems stuck at that number in the CPU column). End one of these processes.  If you are unsure about ending a process check this site for some good tips on which ones you can safely end: https://features.en.softonic.com/20-windows-processes-you-can-kill
    1. taskmgr.exe (this is the program you’re using)
    2. System idle process (this is just a placeholder for unused CPU time)
    3. explorer.exe (this is your start button and everything else on your desktop)
    4. wininit.exe (ending this can damage your computer)
  4. Once you have ended the process, try restarting your computer again.
  5. If your computer still does not restart, repeat steps 1-3 and try ending a few processes that show high activity. Typically, ending 3 or so will allow the computer to restart.
  6. Restart your computer. Once you get logged in and everything is reloaded, reboot once more.  Sometimes, when you are having to shut down after processes are stuck, not all processes will properly reload after the first reboot.  The second reboot typically clears this up and allows everything to load properly.

Power Problems

Another issue that we’ve run into is improperly configured power settings which could interfere with the shut-down process.  To troubleshoot these:

  1. Click on the start button and type Troubleshoot into the search bar then hit enter.
  2. Choose System and Security
  3. Then click on Power and follow the steps to run the troubleshooter.

If your troubleshooter fails to find anything, the issue could be that you don’t have the latest Windows update or that some of your device drivers are out of date.  To fix this, click on the start button and type Update and select “Windows Update.”  Click on the link titled “Check for updates” and install the latest ones if yours are out of date.  If your computer still won’t properly shut down, you will want to check if your drivers need to be updated.

Driver Check

To check and update your drivers, hit the start button, type Update in the search bar again, and select “Update device drivers”.  Sometimes, if a driver is out of date, Windows cannot send a shut-down command to the device ordering it to shut off.

Malicious programs such as viruses, malware, and spyware can also cause your computer to fail to shut down.  If the steps above don’t work and you are still unable to shut down your computer, we would suggest that you run your anti-virus program and check for malware and spyware.  Once you clean those up, if they exist, try shutting down through the start button once more.

If All Else Fails…

Lastly, if your computer still refuses to shut down, there could be a hardware issue that requires a computer technician to properly troubleshoot the issue.  Power buttons can break, hard drives fail, or some other issue could be what’s keeping your computer from turning off.  At this point, we would suggest that you do a hard reset by holding in the power button on your computer until everything shuts down and scheduling an appointment for service.

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