Windows Shut Down Options - dummies

By Dan Gookin

The Windows Shut Down Menu provides several options for stopping your computer. Understanding what each of them do will help you to choose the best option.

Switch User: You remain logged in to the computer and your programs continue to be open, but choosing this option allows another user to access the computer.

Log Off: You can end your Windows session, save your stuff, and quit programs, but Windows remains on and ready for other people to use the computer.

Lock: Not a complete logout, this option helps you protect your stuff by displaying the Windows logon screen. You must type your password or log in as another user to get into the computer. (Obviously, this option works best when all accounts are password protected.

Restart: The computer is shut down and then started again when this option is chosen from the Shut Down menu. It’s also called a reset or, if you want to get nerdy, a warm boot.

Sleep: The computer is put into a low-power consumption mode, saving energy. Also known as Stand By, this mode may put the entire computer, or only the monitor or hard drives, into low-power mode. In this power-saving mode, the computer comes back to life quickly, usually with the press of a key or jiggle of the mouse.

Hibernate: Choosing this option, the best power-saving mode, shuts down the computer and turns it off. But information in memory is saved so that when the computer turns on again, you simply resume your former activities (after logging in, of course). Hibernation saves the most power, but it takes longer to restart the computer than either Sleep or Standby mode, because you’re literally turning it on again.

Shut Down or Turn Off: When this option is selected, the computer is shut down: You’re logged out of your account, which closes your programs and allows you to save your data. Windows then shuts itself down, and eventually the computer turns itself off.

The Switch User, Log Off, Lock, and Sleep options don’t turn off the computer. The Restart, Hibernate, and Shut Down options do turn off the system.