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windows 7 slow shutdownOne of the key improvements of Windows 7 is its lightning fast start-up. Aaron Dietrich of the Windows Client Performance team received a lot of praise for this achievement. However, what the developers apparently failed to optimize and speed up was the shutdown process.

Ever since I switched to Windows 7 on my laptop, which had previously shut down within seconds while running on Windows XP, the slow shutdown has been nagging me. If you also happen to be looking for ways to kick-start a Windows 7 slow shutdown, look no further! Here I will introduce you to 3 ways to optimize or speed up the logoff process, so that you can leave the office or get into bed faster.


I tested these tips one after the other on my Windows 7 netbook (which shut down significantly faster after upgrading to 2GB RAM). I booted into Windows, started some standard programs, including Skype and Chrome with several different tabs open, waited until they had fully loaded, and then shut down the computer. In its native state, the shutdown took 32 seconds from clicking the ‘Shutdown’ button until the laptop had fully shut down.

Initial shutdown time on test machine: 32 seconds

1. Reduce Timeout To Kill Service Or App

Before Windows shuts down, it attempts to properly close all running processes. If a service doesn’t close immediately, Windows waits for a few seconds, until it prompts the user that the service is not responding to the shutdown request. The amount of this waiting time is defined by registry keys and you can reduce it.

These are two fairly harmless registry hacks. If you follow the steps outlined in this article, it should in no way harm your system. Nevertheless, I have to issue a warning:

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Editing the registry can damage your operating system! I or MakeUseOf take no responsibility whatsoever!  Make a backup of your registry before continuing.

For the first hack, click the key combination > [WINDOWS] + [R], type > regedit into the text field, and click > OK to launch the registry editor.

In the registry editor, navigate to this folder:


Within that folder (on the right) find and double-click the string > WaitToKillServiceTimeout.

In the > Edit String window, change the > Value data from the default of 12000 (12 seconds) to 2000 (2 seconds). Click > OK to save the change.

windows 7 slow shutdown

For the second hack, navigate to the following location via the registry editor:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop

On the right, find and double-click the string > WaitToKillAppTimeout.

speed up shutdown

If this entry does not exist, you can create it. Right-click into the folder and click through > New > String Value, and name it > WaitToKillAppTimeout.

Set > Value data to 2000, click > OK.

In the same registry folder, if you see an entry called > AutoEndTasks, set its > Value data to 1, then close the registry editor.

Shutdown time: 27 seconds

2. Create a Fast Shutdown Shortcut

As of Windows 2000, Windows has come with a remote shutdown tool to shut down and restart Windows. You can control this tool through the command line, but a much faster alternative is to create a shortcut.

  • Right-click your Windows 7 desktop and select > New > Shortcut.
  • Enter > shutdown.exe -s -t 00 -f in the location field, click > Next, give the shortcut a descriptive name, e.g. Shut Down Computer, and click Finish.

windows 7 slow shutdown

The letters (options) added above tell the tool to shut down (-s) with a timeout of zero seconds (-t 00), and to force running applications to close without forewarning the user (-f). Basically, it unites the registry hacks from the first tip in the shutdown process. You can see a full list of options when typing > shutdown.exe into the command prompt, which you can open via > [WINDOWS] + [R] then type > cmd into the text field and click > OK.

You can move this shortcut from the desktop to your quick launch bar or pin it to the taskbar. Double-click the shortcut to instantly shut down the system.

This trick is courtesy of Seven Forums.

Shutdown time: 24 seconds

3. Brute-Force Method

This method is also known as hard boot, as it is typically used to shut down and immediately reboot the computer. It should be used with extreme caution!

If you’re in a hurry and cannot wait for 20 seconds or if your computer responds slowly or even froze, simply hold the power button for several seconds and Windows will shut down immediately. Since this method literally kills not only the operating system, but also the hardware, it should not be used as a routine way of shutting down your computer. In a worst case scenario, it could cause your hard drive to crash.

Shutdown time: 5 seconds


Finally, you may experience an issue that can not be solved with the two hacks above. If you see a message saying “1 program sill needs to close: (Waiting for) Task Host Window”, then you should look into this Hotfix released by Microsoft.

Moreover, a slow logoff can be caused by outdated drivers or antivirus software. Therefore update all your drivers, remove antivirus programs like Norton and McAfee and replace them with a better alternative, such as Avast or Avira AntiVir. Note that fingerprint scanners have been known to cause a particularly slow log-off.

For more Windows 7 tricks and fixes, check out the following articles:

How fast does your computer shut down and which method/s do you use? Or do you ever shut down Windows at all?

    March 12, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    what about start up? can some processes, servives, or boot animtion be deleted and windows start faster, even egistry tweak?


  2. parag anant patil
    November 18, 2015 at 8:34 am

    prefer to use hibernate option. it is fast and useful... I tried.

  3. himanshu
    June 18, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    i really wanted this. windows has just started copying the snail.

  4. Dum
    June 17, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I prefer to do nothing, don't know why.

  5. Achmed
    June 17, 2011 at 4:13 am

    I prefer use Hibernate to turn off computer. That is the fastest way...

  6. Kuro Neko
    June 17, 2011 at 12:20 am

    I'm not sure why, but my Win7 computers only accept "/" instead of "-" for shutdown switch. 

    • Tina
      June 17, 2011 at 2:43 am

      I'm not sure, either. I used the "-" under Windows 7 Professional.

  7. ranjeet varma
    June 16, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    my system shuts down in about 12-15 secs using normal shutdown

    • Tina
      June 17, 2011 at 2:44 am

      Lucky you!

  8. Bruce Epper
    June 16, 2011 at 7:09 am

    I rarely shutdown my machine, but I do reboot it a few times per month.  The decision to reboot is based on a meter I keep on my desktop that shows me how much memory is currently being used.  I have 8GB in my system and when the system is idling and using more than approximately 3GB of RAM, I will reboot it.  I manually shut down all running apps instead of having Windows terminate them during shutdown because it is faster, especially with Java apps and Digsby (for an as yet unknown reason).  I have seen some desktop gadgets that can also cause the sidebar.exe process to stall during shutdown.  (I don't personally use them, they have been on client machines and neither the client nor I have been too concerned with it.)  As long as I have shut down the "problem children" and other primary applications first, my shutdown time has never exceeded approximately 20 seconds.  On average, it ends up being around 12 seconds.

  9. Hildy
    June 16, 2011 at 2:11 am

    I only shut down about once a week. Normally I hibernate. With an SSD this takes about one second and it has the advantage of saving work in minimized programs that I forgot to save myself. Startup is also faster. OTOH, having used Windows since 3.1, I do shutdown or reboot once a week to clear out stuff but I don't know if it's necessary. It is necessary to close programs more frequently to handle memory leaks (and I'm talking about you, Firefox).

    • MDC
      June 16, 2011 at 6:11 am

      You should try Sleep. Put your computer only to hibernate when you won't need it for a long time :)

      • Hildy
        June 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm

        The disadvantage to sleep is that with current chipsets it does drain the battery a bit over time but it does provide a faster startup. Personally I'll take the extra 5 seconds of startup in return for more time between charges. Depending on your computer and your usage of it, sleep might make more sense.

  10. Jeffery Fabish
    June 16, 2011 at 12:32 am

    I have my system set to clear the page file at shut down, which adds a lot of overhead time to the shutdown process. If you have it enabled, that's probably why your shutdown is taking forever.

    • Tina
      June 16, 2011 at 4:30 pm

      Thanks for the tip!

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