Windows 8: Difference Between Power Down and Reboot

It turns out that there’s a huge difference between the way that a Windows 7 PC powers down, and the way that a Windows 8 PC powers down …

When you power down a PC running Windows 7, the operating system gets loaded fully again on the next start of the system. The same is true when you reboot the PC. On Windows 8, things are different which can lead to a problem that I have been facing lately. When you select to power down a machine running Windows 8, part of the operating system gets saved to the disk so that it can be loaded again on the next start.

That’s great most of the time as it speeds up the loading of the system, but not so great if you need the computer to load the full operating system in case you are running into an issue that requires the system to be fully loaded anew.

It is like visiting your favorite website again only to notice that the information have not been updated because it is being loaded from the browser cache instead of the web server it is hosted on.

The issue that I faced was the following: sometimes when booting into Windows 8 neither mouse nor keyboard worked immediately or after some seemingly random time of working with the system. I could not use the mouse or keyboard to reboot the PC, and the power button only powered the system down. The problem with that was that the issue did not go away since the system was not fully loaded on the next restart. There are likely other scenarios where this may be an issue.

My problem now was that I could not get the system to restart properly since I could not select the restart option when the operating system was loaded, and since Windows itself did not recognize the issue that I was facing. I also could not make use of the F8 option to display the boot menu to run system restore or other recovery options.

So how do you force the system to reboot when you can’t do it when the operating system is loaded? I could not find an answer to that that works universally. I did however come up with two options that resolved the issue for me.

The first was the Mouse without Borders software that was running on the network the Windows 8 PC was connected to. While I was not able to see a mouse cursor,  I noticed that it must have been there somehow as menu items were highlighted when I started to move the mouse. I moved the mouse to the lower right corner of the screen to bring up the Charms Bar, select Power and then the reboot option.

I also noticed that the reset button on the PC, if properly connected and configured, reboots the Windows 8 PC properly. You can alternatively configure Windows 8 to turn off fast startup. This is done in the Power Options control panel applet.

windows 8 fast start

The reset button works for me, but if your PC for whatever reason does not ship with one, I’d highly suggest to disable fast startup to avoid these issues. Sure, the system may start a few seconds slower when the feature is disabled, but that may be a small price to pay in the long run.

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