What Is Fast Startup in Windows and How to Enable or Disable It

Close Up Of Laptop Keyboard Colorful Neon Illumination, Backlit Keyboard.

One of the newer additions to modern versions of Windows is Fast Startup. This feature claims to speed up your boot time, so you spend less time waiting for your computer to boot and more time using it. Windows machines typically have this feature enabled by default, so users may already be experiencing fast boot times without realizing it. While it may sound like a great feature, there are a few cases where you may want to consider disabling Fast Startup.

Tip: wondering whether the best course of action is putting your laptop to sleep or shutting it down? We answer the question.

What Does Windows Fast Startup Do

To understand why someone may want to enable or disable Fast Startup, we have to first understand what is going on under the hood when it’s enabled. What causes the boot time to speed up?

Typically, when you shut down a Windows computer, it performs a “cold shutdown” by saving data to the hard drive and turning off the power. This clears the system memory or RAM of all the data it was holding. When you boot the PC back up, it loads all of the necessary system files again, which takes time.

Shutdown options in Windows.

When Fast Startup is enabled, the computer doesn’t perform a cold shutdown. Instead, it stores system files in a hibernation file before turning itself off. When you reboot the PC, it accesses the hibernation file and resumes your session from the data contained there. The PC doesn’t have to reload everything from scratch, resulting in a faster overall boot time.

Overall, this works as a hybrid of a cold shutdown and hibernation. Because it requires Windows’s hibernation capability, Fast Startup can only be enabled if hibernation is turned on.

Why Disable Fast Startup?

A faster boot time sounds like a great feature to have, so why would you want to disable it?

Some device drivers may greatly dislike being put into hibernation. As a result, they may cause strange things to occur, such as making the device act funny or even crashing the computer. Because your computer isn’t shutting down fully, these devices are being brought in and out of hibernation and causing issues.

Blue screen of death issue in Windows due to driver malfunction.
Image source: Flickr

By going into a form of hibernation, it also has the unfortunate effect of locking the hard drive on shutdown. This is particularly problematic if you want to dual-boot into another OS or access the hard drive outside of the Windows environment for running diagnostics (like running an SFC scan from Command Prompt).

It’s worth noting, however, that if you restart the PC with Fast Startup enabled, it will perform a cold shutdown anyway before booting back up again. This is helpful if you want to give your system a proper shutdown, such as when you’re updating software.

Tip: did you put your Windows PC in sleep mode, but it keeps waking up? Learn how to prevent that.

Should Fast Startup Always Be Disabled?

No! Fast Startup can cause issues, but it doesn’t need to be disabled if you don’t have any problems with it. If you’ve used a Windows machine for a while without experiencing any issues, you can keep it enabled and enjoy the extra time shaved off your boot process. Just keep in mind that if you want to access the hard drive from outside Windows (such as when running an SFC scan), you won’t be able to.

Opening up "Command prompt" from Advanced options in BIOS.

If you’re noticing issues, such as driver BSODs or devices not working as they should, try disabling Fast Startup and see whether it can help. This is especially true if you notice these problems vanish after you restart the PC and trigger a proper shutdown. If you absolutely want to dual-boot or access your hard drive outside of the Windows environment, you should disable Fast Startup.

How to Enable or Disable Fast Startup

Before you enable Fast Startup, you need to ensure that hibernation is enabled, as Fast Startup will not work without it.

Enable Hibernation

  1. Search for and open Control Panel from the Windows Search bar. Click “System and Security.”
Clicking on "System and Security" option in Control Panel.
  1. Under “Power Options,” click “Change what the power buttons do.”
Clicking on "Change what the power buttons do" option under Power Options.
  1. Click “Change settings that are currently unavailable.”
Selecting "Change settings that are currently unavailable" in System Settings via Control Panel.
  1. Under “Shutdown settings,” select the box next to “Hibernate” if it isn’t already enabled so that it can show up in the Power menu. Click “Save changes.”
Enabling "Hiberate" option in System Settings.

Enable Fast Startup via Control Panel

Now that you’ve confirmed that hibernation is enabled, you can enable Fast Startup from the same settings page used above.

  1. After clicking “Change settings that are currently unavailable” in step #3 above, check the box next to “Turn on fast startup (recommended).” Click “Save changes.”
Enabling the "Turn on fast startup" option in System Settings.
  1. To disable the option, uncheck the box next to “Turn on fast startup (recommended)” and click “Save changes.”

Good to know: check out this list of handy registry hacks to optimize your Windows experience.

Enable Fast Startup from the Registry Editor

If you want to enable Fast Startup using the Registry Editor, follow the steps below:

  1. Search for and open Registry Editor from the Windows Search bar.
  2. Navigate to the following location:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Power
Registry editor view with address at the top.
  1. In the pane on the right, locate the “HiberbootEnabled” entry, right-click it, and select “Modify.”
Right-clicking on key to bring up context menu.
  1. Under “Value data,” enter “1” and click “OK” to apply the changes and enable Fast Startup.
Modifying value data for key in Registry editor.
  1. To turn Fast Startup off, enter “0” in the “Value data” field in the step above and click “OK” to save the changes.

Disable Fast Startup Using Command Prompt

If you don’t want to use Windows Settings or the Registry Editor to enable or disable Fast Startup, you can use the Command Prompt.

  1. Search for “Command Prompt” in the Windows Search bar, right-click it, and select “Run as administrator.”
  2. In the Command Prompt window, type the following command: powercfg -h off. Press Enter.
Typing command in Command Prompt.
  1. This will disable hibernation and, consequently, Fast Startup.

Good to know: ever wonder what the differences are between Command Prompt and PowerShell? We detail them for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Fast Startup drain battery?

Yes, Windows consumes more battery on some laptops if Fast Startup is enabled. Typically, the feature should work only to speed up your boot time, but in some instances, users face battery drainage if this feature is turned on. You can disable it and check whether the battery life of your laptop improves as a result. If it doesn’t, you can safely turn it back on.

Does Fast Startup interfere with Windows updates?

When Fast Startup is enabled, your computer doesn’t perform a regular cold shutdown, which is often required to apply Windows updates. This can make your system outdated over time and vulnerable to security threats. Hence, if you want to ensure Windows updates are always installed automatically, disable Fast Startup. Alternatively, restart your computer to apply the latest updates.

Is Fast Startup bad for an SSD?

Although Fast Startup will not affect the health of your SSD, it will do very little to improve boot time, as SSDs are already significantly faster than older hard drives. Therefore, disabling Fast Startup on a modern SATA or NVMe SSD can be a sensible choice, especially if you want to dual-boot or save storage space by disabling hibernation.

Image credit: Freepik. All screenshots by Tanveer Singh.

Tanveer Singh
Tanveer Singh

Tanveer hunts far and wide for PC Hardware, Windows, and Gaming ideas to write about. An MBA in Marketing and the owner of a PC building business, he has written extensively on Technology, Gaming, and Marketing. When not scouring the web, he can be found binging on The Office, running for his life in GTFO, or wrecking karts in Smash Karts.

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