Does a cold reboot damange my Windows operating system and will the BIOS show me?

Nkeshimana Emmanuel September 30, 2011

The PC maintenance teacher told me that it’s forbidden to shut down a computer by pressing the power button because it may destroy the operating system.

Once you boot the computer, is the BIOS going to show you that the operating system is damaged? Is it going to let you remove it and install another? Thanks!

  1. Dav532000
    October 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    This is nothing to do with a cold boot. You are simply shutting down the Pc via the power button. You will only lose what ever you where doing on the Pc before you shut it down, so if you should have saved your work then you will have lost it and will have to do it all over again. A cold boot is when you go into Msconfig and disable all the start up entries and re-boot, it is for finding problems with the start up files. As for the Bios you cannot do any harm what so ever by shutting down the Pc with the Power button, the only message that you may receive on re-starting the Pc is the - Your computer was closed down unexpectedly do you want to start windows, or something similar. The Bios will not show any damage to the operating system, also you cannot remove it from the Bios and re-install it, you re-install it to a HDD (hard disk drice)  or a SSD (solid state drive) not the Bios.

    October 1, 2011 at 4:29 am

    Hello, it is recommended not to cold boot unless you have no other option.  For example, if you system freezes.

  3. Anonymous
    October 1, 2011 at 3:23 am

    1st of all,
    if you press power button on the CPU or the keyboard, it will never damage the pc, as it properly shuts down the pc.

    If you directly turn off the power supply to the pc from a switch board or remove plug,
    many times you will see a warning and error check, when you will restart it.
    It says it all.
    never do it.

  4. Mike
    September 30, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Pressing the power button (for 3-4 seconds) will result in immediate power loss. This can lead to all sorts of problems!

    For example the Hard Drives heads could crash onto the magnetic platter and damaging either a few blocks or the heads and therefor the entire drive. Usually a drive will spin a few seconds even after power loss which usually is enough to properly park the heads but if it doesn't for whatever reason you may be looking at data corruption or complete loss.

    Another issue is that operating systems keep data in the memory (RAM) which would be written to the disk on a normal shutdown. With an power outage this data is lost and depending on what that data is it can again lead to data corruption or operating system errors, registry corruption, etc...

    The BIOS is the interface between the operating system and the computers hardware. It is only concerned with the hardware of your system. 
    The BIOS won't show you any information about the operating system because it doesn't even know it exists.

    • Jeff Fabish
      September 30, 2011 at 7:59 pm

      I see no reason why hard rebooting would cause the hard drive heads to crash, unless you were hard "booting", not "rebooting" (:

      • Mike
        September 30, 2011 at 8:32 pm

        Maybe I should add highly unlikely but the possibility is there. 

        If the engine spinning the plates comes to an immediate stop the heads won't be floated to the landing zone.
        If the power is cut during a write operating data will obviously be corrupted because it won't finish writing. For older drives it could actually mean that a few bits of data are written to the wrong blocks because of the decrease in speed.

        In general a power outage can always cause an voltage spike which may lead to damaged electrical components or circuits. 

        I do agree with you that it's highly unlikely to cause any real damage by a hard reboot/reset. Personally I wouldn't take my chances...

    • Bruce Epper
      October 1, 2011 at 2:52 am

      If you are using a hard drive that was made prior to about 2000, there could be an issue with a head crash.  It is essentially a non-issue for drives newer than that.  I have yet to see a drive made later than 2000 that does not correctly autopark on power loss (even killing the power to the drive alone).

  5. Jeff Fabish
    September 30, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    I've never heard of a hard reboot "destroying an operating system". Granted there is a better way of turning off the system, the worst it can do (that I've ever seen) is disregard unsaved files and cause loss of data. A common unsubstantiated myth is that it will damage your hardware, which is false. 

    The only time a BIOS would indicate any problem, is if any hardware was damaged or not present (regardless of what caused it) during the Power On Self Test (POST). Some modern BIOS's come with a diagnostics utility built into the firmware to test your hardware in-depth. However, other than that - It's not the BIOS's job to indicate problems with the operating system. It would be hard to do so anyway, as the BIOS is loaded before the operating system (the BIOS only launches the operating system/boot loader). 

    To summarize, a hard reboot (while certainly not the best method of restarting) is not likely to cause any damage (be it hardware or software), unless your system is writing critical files (such as a service pack update), which most developers account for in "exception handling". When you press "restart" it performs a "graceful reboot" which asks the applications to close and allowing you to save files. If you "hard reboot" it simply kills them, but is unlikely to cause any damage to the operating system.

    • Bruce Epper
      October 1, 2011 at 2:56 am

      Depending on what is currently being written, it can cause severe problems.  Writing to the registry during power loss can cause the machine to refuse to boot.  Killing power while performing updates on the operating system will almost always render a system inoperable which is why Microsoft says you should not perform updates, especially service pack updates, on a laptop if you are not connected to AC power.

      • Mort'
        October 15, 2011 at 7:44 pm

        Yup, that's pretty much what Jeff said.

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