Shutting Down / Restarting Vista and Windows 7

September 24, 2010

Vista and Windows 7 are very different from XP in terms of shutting down and/or restart your computer. Not only did the shutdown and restart commands move on the start menu, but there is a new screen that appears showing you all of the programs that are still running. This new screen says to wait while it closes programs, but it gives you the option to force a restart.

Here’s what’s happening behind the scenes.

When you instruct Windows to restart or shut down, it sends a signal to each running program telling them to exit. Windows then waits for them to exit. You have the option to click the “Force Restart” button during this wait period. If you click that, Windows doesn’t tell the programs to exit again. Instead, Windows kills any programs that are still running. The term kill sounds harsh, but it’s a good depiction of what is happens.

The reason why it is better for a program to exit on its own rather than being killed, other than sounding better and less painful, is that if a program has a file open, exiting it on its own allows it to close the file properly and then exit. When you kill a running program, it just stops it from running and it doesn’t have time to properly close files. It’s important to properly close files because if you don’t, it can cause corruption in that file.

It’s a good idea to close all of your programs before you shutdown or restart your computer. However, even if you do that, you may still get the screen that says it’s waiting for programs to close. Even though you closed all of the programs you had running that were visible on the screen, there are always programs running in the background.

So, when you shutdown or restart Windows Vista or Windows 7 and you get the screen that tells you it’s waiting for programs to close, be patient. Give it at least 20 seconds. You should wait even longer if you have a slower system. But you shouldn’t have to wait more than a minute. If you wait more than a minute, you might as well go ahead and click the “Force Restart” button.  I would also recommend that you have us look at a computer that is sitting on that screen longer than one minute because that could indicate a problem.

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