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Is Windows Taking Forever to Shut Down? Try This!



Shutting down Windows seems like it should be a simple process. You’re just turning your PC off; how hard can it be?

Yet there’s more to shutting down than just cutting the power. Windows must shut down system processes, save data, and purge unneeded information from memory. Usually, the shutdown process takes just a few seconds, but the complex series of steps that take place behind the scenes can sometimes trip over itself. The result is a system that never actually shuts down, or takes an extremely long time to do so.

1. Check for Software Problems

Programs are a common cause of shutdown issues. If shutting down your system does not even bring up the “Shutting down…” screen and you instead get stuck at the “programs need to close” prompt, you likely have a software problem.

Ideally, Windows will show you a list of programs that need to shut down. Often, they’ll be closed automatically, but sometimes the system will not proceed further. This is usually because you have an open program that needs to save data.

Halt the shutdown process by clicking Cancel and then make sure you’ve saved your data in all programs open. Remember to save before shutdown in the future, and that should speed up Windows shutting down.


This doesn’t always work, however. Sometimes a list of programs that need to shut down will appear, but it will be empty, or it will appear only briefly, but your PC doesn’t move to the shutdown screen. This is a sign that a program is causing your woes. After attempting to shut down, open Task Manager and take a look at the programs still running, by looking at their memory usage and their description.

Fixing a program once you’ve identified it as a likely culprit may not be easy. The software may need to be patched or may need re-installation. You can also try manually terminating the program with Task Manager before shutting down your system. Some trial-and-error may be required to confirm which program is causing shutdown to hang.

2. Look for Power Problems

Windows needing a lot of time to shut down could also be a power-related issue. Before changing your system settings, you should give the Windows power troubleshooter a quick try as it might be enough to fix your issue.

  1. Right-click Start and select Settings.
  2. Head to Update & Security and from the left menu, click Troubleshoot.
  3. From Find and fix other problems, click Power > Run the troubleshooter.

3. Check for Process Problems

Windows closes a number of system processes when it shuts down, packing up data as needed to make sure the system boots cleanly the next time it’s needed. If a process hangs while shutting down, however, you won’t know which; the default “Shutting down…” screen gives no details.

You can change this by editing the Group Policy. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. In the Start menu search bar, search for gpedit and select Run as administrator.
  2. In the left pane, navigate to Computer configuration > Administrative templates > System.
  3. In the right pane, scroll down and open Display highly detailed status messages.
  4. Select Enabled.
  5. Click Apply > OK to save your new system settings.

You will now see a list of processes shutting down on the Shutting down… screen, which will help you determine what is causing your problem. You may find there’s some kind of Windows Update issue, and you might need a better strategy to manage Windows updates.

Other common problems include corrupted hardware drivers and network processes that do not shut down.

4. Double-Check for Driver or Operating System Problems

Having completed the policy editing step, you may find that your shutdown screen hangs due to a driver or a process bug you don’t understand or don’t know how to fix. In these situations, it’s a good idea to look into updating both Windows and your drivers.

If you paused Windows updates for a long time, you should give it a chance to install the latest version as it might make Windows shut down faster.

Press Win + I to launch Windows settings. Then, head to Update & security > Windows update and click the Check for updates button.

If Windows needs to reboot to install downloaded updates, it’s best to use the Restart now option found in the Settings app. Here, you can also schedule a restart. Alternatively, you can go through Start > Power and choose one of the options that include Update.

Windows 10 also automatically updates your drivers. This has been known to cause havoc. You might have to manually re-install older or custom drivers.

Hopefully, checking on Windows Update will solve your issue, if another did not already. But if you’re still plagued with a slow or frozen “Shutting down…” screen, read on.

5. Disable Fast Startup

Fast Startup is designed to speed up Windows boot time by preloading certain boot information before you turn off your computer. While it may save you time when turning on your computer, it will slow down the shutdown process.

Follow these steps to disable Fast Startup:

  1. Launch Control Panel.
  2. Using the View by menu, select Large icons or Small icons.
  3. Open Power Options.
  4. From the left menu, click Choose what the power buttons do.
  5. Select Change settings that are currently unavailable.
  6. Below Shutdown settings, uncheck Turn on fast startup.

6. Look for Page File Problems

Windows has a feature called Page File which essentially works like an extension for your RAM. If your system needs more memory than it has available, the least-used portions of data stored in RAM are moved over to a page file on your hard drive, so more important data can be kept in memory.

Sometimes, clearing the Page File at shutdown is enabled for security reasons. This is because the page file can be a security hole, as the data in it can be retrieved. Clearing the file at shutdown can take some time, however, so it may be the source of your problem.

  1. Launch Registry Editor with administrative rights.
  2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM > CurrentControlSet > Control > Session Manager > Memory Management.
  3. In the right pane, locate and open ClearPageFileAtShutdown. If Value data is 1, it’s enabled and may delay the shutdown process.
  4. Change Value data to 0 and click OK. The change will take place after you restart your system.

Please note that, if you’re using a PC from your place of employment, the page file may be cleared for a reason. You might want to talk with your IT department before changing the setting, lest you end up earning the wrath of your company’s geeks.

7. Scan for Disk Drive Problems

If you’re still having issues, it’s possible that a hard drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD) problem is the root of the issue. A corrupted or failing drive may hang while data is being stored, or may try to save data to corrupted areas, causing shutdown to fail.

To check the health of your hard drives, open This PC, right-click your Windows system drive, and head to Properties > Tools. Under Error checking, select the Check button. Then, click Scan drive.

8. Tweak the WaitToKillServiceTimeout Value

When you shut down your computer, Windows sends a notification to all open apps and services, so no work is lost. By default, after five seconds, Windows steps in and closes any apps or services still running.

How long Windows waits depends on the WaitToKillServiceTimeout value. If you’ve adjusted it because you didn’t want to accidentally lose your work, it will take your computer a bit longer to shut down.

Here is how you can check this Registry key value:

  1. Open Registry Editor with administrative rights.
  2. Head to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM > CurrentControlSet > Control.
  3. Open WaitToKillServiceTimeout and check the set value. Keep in mind that the value is expressed in milliseconds. If Value data is set to 10000, Windows will wait for 10 seconds before closing the open apps and services.
  4. Set Value data back to 5000, which is the default value.

No matter how much you want to speed up your computer shutting down, you shouldn’t set a value lower than 5000 so the apps will close down without crashing.

Enjoy Your New, Speedy Shutdowns

A computer that hangs when you shut it down can be a real frustration, but hopefully, these tips can resolve the issue for you. Remember, while it may be tempting to just hit the power button, doing so might cause unsaved files to be lost. Don’t ignore the issue; get your computer to shut down properly, and optimize the boot time too.


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