What happens when you don’t “properly” shut down your PC?
Just like our parents or computer teachers told us, we should always turn off a Windows PC by clicking on the Start button and selecting the “Shut down” option. And by all means, this is 100% the best and safest way to do it, but do you really have to? Why? Why can’t we just physically press the power button, or even just unplug the darn thing? Here’s why.
The ‘Shut down’ option
Again, like we were taught, this is the proper way to turn off your computer. But what exactly happens in the background? Well, as it turns out, a lot of important things.
Programs are automatically closed, and ones that contain unsaved data will prompt you of such. Any data saved to your RAM will then be written to disk, where it will be safely kept. The actual Windows operating system processes are closed properly, and your hardware is shut down in proper sequence.
This is, still, by far the safest way to do this.
What about the power button?
Ah, yes. The power button. Can’t we just press it to shut down, exactly how we turn the computer on? The answer is — yes, you can.
If you’re using a modern desktop PC or laptop, then by all means, pressing the power button once to turn it off is totally fine. In fact, it triggers the same exact procedure that clicking ‘Shut down’ does.
The trouble comes in when you turn off your system by long pressing the power button. This is what’s known as a “hard shut down” or a “force shut down.”
Hard shut down
Other than long pressing the power button, a hard shut down can also come in the form of yanking out a laptop’s battery, unplugging a desktop PC, or turning off its power supply.
What happens when you do this, is simple. Everything mentioned earlier that happens during a proper shutdown, does not happen. Data saved on memory is never written to disk, your unsaved work is probably gone, software and hardware never got a chance to turn off properly, and more.
Doing this opens up the risk of data corruption. Your physical hard drive, and likely all your components for that matter, have hardware-level safety measures to help protect it from a sudden loss of power. However, these measures simply cannot be implemented by software.
Now that you know why a proper shutdown is important, just do it, friends. Do it as a favor, if not to yourself, then to your PC; they deserve it.