How To Avoid An Unnecessary Windows Reboot Or Shutdown

Joe Keeley 06-11-2014

“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”


Restarting your computer is the age-old resolution for fixing computer issues, and Windows forces you to do it after every important update. But is it really necessary every time?

Sometimes being forced to restart your computer might result in annoying consequences. We’re going to explore some situations in which Windows might need to be rebooted and how this can be delayed or avoided altogether.

Windows Update

We’ve probably all felt the wrath of Windows Update Windows Update: Everything You Need to Know Is Windows Update enabled on your PC? Windows Update protects you from security vulnerabilities by keeping Windows, Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Office up-to-date with the latest security patches and bug fixes. Read More . You know this countdown that appears on your screen, telling you that you need to restart your computer in order to install some updates? If you’re not around to delay its reminder, the system will frustratingly reboot itself and close everything you had opened.

The reason Windows needs to restart to install these updates is that it can’t alter or remove files that are currently being used. The system is running these files continually and the only time it isn’t is during the system boot, which makes it the ideal time to install the updates.



Counting down until the reboot is a process that has been around since Windows XP. Forcing the updates to install as soon as they were available was Microsoft’s method of preventing worms from spreading, especially for those users who always kept their computer running.

While it’s incredibly important to install high-priority security updates, you might want to disable these forced restarts. Sure, it’s possible to just keep snoozing the reminder, but what if you want to ditch that altogether? Check out our guide on how to disable forced restarts with a registry hack How to Disable Forced Restarts After a Windows Update Are you tired of Windows hassling you to reboot your computer after updates were installed? Miss a pop-up and it reboots automatically. Stop this madness and reboot at your leisure. Read More .

However, please bear in mind that editing the registry, which that guide involves, shouldn’t be done unless you know exactly what you’re doing.

Frozen Programs

Even with the most powerful PC around, it’s still possible for a program to just completely freeze on you. It becomes unresponsive, your clicks and keyboard presses doing nothing. Then Windows informatively tells you that the program is “not responding 7 Most Common Reasons Windows Gets Unresponsive Sometimes, Windows freezes up and hangs without much of an explanation. Next time you suffer from an unresponsive system, review these seven common causes of Windows hangups. Read More “.


Modern operating systems are better at handling frozen programs and will hang less than their predecessors. But it can still happen, whether it’s down to faulty hardware or poorly programmed software Why Does Windows Crash? The Top 10 Reasons Oh, great. Another blue screen, boot issue or frozen screen in Windows. Now you have to restart and lose most or all of the work you’d been trying to accomplish. It’s frustrating both because of... Read More . You might be tempted to restart your system to close it down, but there’s no need.

Windows 8 Task Manager Processes

Windows Task Manager How to Handle Suspicious Windows Task Manager Processes CTRL + ALT + DEL aka three-finger salute is the quickest way to add to your confusion. Sorting through Task Manager Processes, you may notice something like svchost.exe using 99% of your CPU. So now... Read More is on hand to kill off anything that’s not behaving. It’s existed since Windows 95 and continues to do so until this day. To load Task Manager, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc simultaneously.

You’ll be presented with a list of all the applications currently running. Select the one that’s being unresponsive and click End Task to say goodbye to it. If you need to dump a process that’s running in the background, like Dropbox or your anti-virus, then click More details on Windows 8 or the Processes tab on Windows 7 and below.


If you’re frequently suffering program freezing then it might signify that there’s a bigger problem at hand. It could mean your system needs more RAM 8 Ways to Free Up RAM on Your Windows Computer Here's how to free up RAM on your Windows PC so you can find out what's using memory and put your resources to better use. Read More , your components are overheating, the operating system is corrupt, and more.

File/Windows Explorer

File Explorer (as it’s known in Windows 8, but was Windows Explorer previously) is the standard file manager for Windows. For example, when you’re browsing your Documents or Pictures folders then you’re using the File Explorer.

Sometimes File Explorer can crash or a change in system settings requires a reboot. You might be tempted to do just that, but there’s a neat little trick to safely terminate and restart File Explorer 3 Advanced Tips & Tricks For Using Windows Explorer Windows Explorer is the default Windows file manager. Last week I introduced you to 3 easy ways to improve Windows 7 Explorer by tweaking features and using it to its full potential. In this article,... Read More that’ll save you the hassle.

Windows Start Menu Exit Explorer Menu


If you’re in this situation, load the Start menu and hold Ctrl + Shift while right clicking anywhere empty on the menu. Users on Windows 8 and above can do the same anywhere on the taskbar. A menu will appear and from here you should click Exit Explorer.

Your folders will close, the taskbar will vanish and your desktop will be deserted, but don’t fear. Bring up Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc) and click File and then New Task (Run…). Type explorer.exe in the box that appears, press OK and File Explorer will return working as smooth as butter.

Prevent Any Automatic Shutdown

We mentioned earlier how Windows Update will try and force a restart on you, but it isn’t the only utility that likes to strongly suggest you reboot instantly. Many programs, at the end of their install process, will tell you to restart your system and will provide a button for doing so. If you’re one of those users who blindly clicks through an install process (which is dangerous for many reasons, as our guide to safely installing A Simple Checklist To Safely Installing Free Software Without All The Junk Picture this - you've just found this awesome free software that you are stoked about because of all that it can do for you, but when you install it, you discover that it is packed... Read More demonstrates) then you could find yourself accidentally rebooting.


This is where ShutdownGuard comes in. It’s a program that will try its best (sometimes Windows has the power to override) to prevent applications from shutting down or restarting the system. It’ll pop-up a dialog box asking the user to confirm the process; meaning that you won’t come back to your PC after a break to find that it’s rebooted without your permission.

Rebooting Can Be Healthy

Despite any desire you might have to not reboot your computer, it can actually be very beneficial at times. A restart can return everything to an original state and that’s something that shouldn’t be undervalued – rebooting your system does fix many issues Why Does Rebooting Your Computer Fix So Many Issues? "Have you tried rebooting?" It's technical advice that gets thrown around a lot, but there's a reason: it works. Not just for PCs, but a wide range of devices. We explain why. Read More .

Whether it’s a memory leak caused by badly designed programs, drivers that need to be installed or an update that mandates it, sometimes a reboot can be the best and easiest thing to do. As such, no matter how much you may hate rebooting, try to do it every once in a while.

Do you have any tips for avoiding system reboots or do you prefer to just let the system do its thing?

Image Credits: Woman with personal computer Via Shutterstock

Explore more about: Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8.

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  1. gwalchmai munn
    November 18, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Rebooting isn't a big deal for most competent users. It doesn't happen that often. OTOH, for the armies of mindless office drones who spend their lives trying to figure out why all those browser toolbars appear and why Solitair is so slow, simple software maintenance can seen arbitrary and mysterious. Especially when the boss is mean and won't get them Macs like their brother-in-law's company has (they just work.)

  2. WinDork
    November 14, 2014 at 3:04 am

    @Bill, do you have an actual point, or do you just enjoy imitating a parrot?

  3. WinDork
    November 8, 2014 at 4:21 am

    I don't see what the big deal about a reboot is. If it's causing a user that much grief then a thorough analysis of startup might be in order. Or people should just learn to have patience.

    • Jessica C
      November 8, 2014 at 7:00 pm

      Rebooting interrupts the user's workflow. It's not about how easy the startup is, or a lack of patience. It's that you're in the middle of doing something, maybe writing, or gaming, or working, or watching a movie, and your computer says, "Nope, I got some stuff of my own to do. Come back after I restart."

      No one likes to be interrupted.

    • WinDork
      November 8, 2014 at 7:17 pm

      I can't speak for anyone else, but my patch Tuesday update reboots typically occur at 2AM, therefore interrupting NOTHING. Additionally, I have a Windows 7 desktop, a Windows 7 laptop, a Windows 8.1 desktop and an Android tablet at my disposal to take up the workflow mantle should a reboot at any other time become necessary.

      I don't prefer reboot interruption either but it happens. I've been a computer owner long enough to have adapted to them.

  4. fcl
    November 7, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Now, where is your God when Task Manager is Not Responding, lmao.

    Tips, open CMD, use taskkill

  5. Taylor
    November 6, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Not true. It's one of the best OSes you can get!

  6. Bill
    November 6, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Windows update is a slow, heavy mess. The best way to avoid all the hassle is to ditch Windows completely.

    • Simbila
      November 6, 2014 at 9:07 pm

      Thanks for the useless tip.

    • Smithing
      November 6, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      Which no one will do because Windows is the most useful OS to date.

    • Joe
      November 6, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      I've never found Windows Update to be particularly problematic myself. Have you had specific problems with it in the past?

    • Doc
      November 7, 2014 at 2:21 am

      Some people don't have that luxury. Office environments are heavily entrenched in the Windows environment because of Office and other Windows-specific software. Some people like myself like to play games once in a while, and the Linux and Mac selection sucks. Macs are also overpriced and limited in hardware selection.

    • Doc
      November 7, 2014 at 2:23 am

      " To load Task Manager, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc simultaneously." You can also right-click on an empty spot in the Taskbar and select it from there; many people are also used to hitting CTRL-ALT-DEL and selecting Task Manager from that screen.

    • Doc
      November 7, 2014 at 2:24 am

      You can get rid of the "restart Windows" timer by going to the Task Manager and closing "wuauclt.exe", the Windows update client.

    • Maryon Jeane
      November 7, 2014 at 1:43 pm

      Absolutely agree, Bill. Windows 7 is my last Windows OS ever; when this dies, no more Microsoft!

    • Bill
      November 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      Simbila: Why is it useless? Windows users are not all aware that the choice is not limited to Win/Mac. Its very good advice, and most who take it never look back.

      Smithing: "Windows is the most useful OS to date."

      What does this even mean? Compared to what?

      Joe: Yes and if you compare it to Linux or Mac it soon becomes obvious just how heroically rubbish it is. At root the problem is the complete lack of any form of sane packaging system.

      Doc: True, Macs are pricey, that doesn't make Windows good.

      Because office managers make the stupid decision to spend zillions on MS licenses out of fear and ignorance does not make it a good choice, just a common one.

      Taylor: Not true. It’s one of the best OSes you can get! Not sure what this means. Which is the best then? Windows is nasty but has pretty wrapping, under the GUI its a mess.

      WinDork: Your logic is 'I'm prepared to put up with rubbish, so people who prefer not to are somehow deficient"

      Your second point really makes my case: Windows Update is ok if you have three computers and a tablet. Your logic is "I buy crap cars instead of good ones, but I buy three at a time and have a motorbike so thats ok'

      Then you say "I don’t prefer reboot interruption either but it happens." Um, no it doesn't, unless you use windows.

      "I’ve been a computer owner long enough to have adapted to them." Why? Why should you adapt to bad performance and hassle?. Who's the boss in your house your 3 windows machines? I'd prefer not to be my computer's house-trained pet.