What Windows’ “Fast Startup” Does, and How to Disable It

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

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In order to understand why someone might want to disable fast startup, we have to understand what is going on under the hood when it’s enabled. What causes the boot times to speed up?

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

When fast startup is enabled, the computer doesn’t perform a cold shutdown. Instead, it will store system files within a hibernation file before turning itself off. When you reboot the PC, it reaches into the hibernation file and uses the information stored there. Now the PC doesn’t have to reload everything from scratch and results in a faster boot overall.

Overall, this works as a hybrid of a cold shutdown and hibernation. Because it requires hibernation capabilities to perform, fast startup can only be enabled if hibernation is available.

Of course, faster boot times sounds like a great feature to have, so why would anyone want to disable it?

Some device drivers you use 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.

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 want to access the hard drive outside of Windows for any other means.

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

No! Fast startup can cause issues, but it doesn’t need disabling if you don’t have any problems with it. If you’ve used a Windows 10 machine for a while and experienced zero 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 system files becoming corrupt), you won’t be able to.

If you’re noticing issues, such as driver BSODs or devices not working as they should, try disabling fast startup to see what happens. This is especially true if you notice these problems vanish after you restart the PC and trigger a proper shutdown. If you want to dual-boot or access your hard drive outside of Windows 10, disable fast startup.

To enable or disable fast startup, press Win + X on your keyboard and select “Power Options.”

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Click “Choose what the power button buttons do.”

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Near the bottom, tick or untick “Turn on fast start-up.”

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If this option is greyed out, look at the top of the window for an option that says “Change settings that are currently unavailable” and click it. This should unlock the ability to enable fast start-up.

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If you can’t see the option to turn on fast startup, it’s because hibernation on your system has become disabled somehow. For example, we’ve discussed manually disabling hibernation in our 12 Things You Must Do When Running a Solid State Drive in Windows 7. To re-enable hibernation, just follow the steps in that article, but type powercfg -h on instead of off.

For some, Windows 10’s fast startup will cause no issues to system stability. For others, however, they may find some errors occur due to how fast startup operates. Now you know what it does and how to enable or disable it.

Have you noticed fast startup improving your boot times? Let us know below!

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