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Issue #608: March 17-23, 2019

Q: About half the time when I try to shutdown, (I know I am still old school and like to shut down at night) the computer restarts instead of shutting down.

I attempt the shutdown by first clicking the windows button in the lower left. Then click the power button and select “Shut down”. I am not selecting restart.

When this happens, the only way I can shut down is to push the manual power button. This has been happening over the past 2 or 3 weeks. It was some time before I realized what was happening.

I would do what I thought was a shutdown and the next morning the computer was still on. Finally, one time I just sat there and watched to see what was happening.

Thank-you for all of your assistance to me, and the many others you have helped.

– George C.
Shalimar, Florida

A:  Welcome back to It’s Geek To Me, George.  Your question sounded somewhat familiar, so I checked the column archives to see if I had already answered it, or a similar question.  I was a little surprised to find an issue from last year (Geek Note: I.G.T.M. Issue #562, April 29 – May 5, 2018) in which I answered a question from you about a PC that wouldn’t start-up.  That gave me pause to smile.  It seems like you may have come full circle.

I know you said you’re “old school” – I’m not particularly “neo” myself (go read the “About the Geek” link on the column’s website if you want to know more).  Still, there is far less reason to shut down a PC overnight than there is to leave it on.  At the very least, night time, when nobody is using it, is when software – including Windows – usually receives its updates.  It is also a great time to schedule those pesky maintenance tasks, like back-ups and hard drive defragmenting.  Can’t do any of those if the system is off!

Even if you do choose to leave your system powered on most of the time (as we do with the several computers running at the Geek House) there will come a time when you need to shut it down.  When you command the system to do so, it sure would be nice if it actually shut down, rather than pretending that it’s going to, only to start booting up again.  Let’s see if we can’t get you there.

When your computer reboots instead of shutting down, it is often a sign of something more serious going on behind the scenes.  Perhaps, something goes wrong with the shutdown process, even crashing the system as it tries to gracefully power down.  You probably don’t even realize it’s happening, because Windows is so far into the shutdown process that it doesn’t have the ability to even pop-up a message box to let you know that something bad happened.  Well, guess what happens when Windows crashes?  That’s right – it reboots!  For reasons that make sense only to Microsoft, that is the Windows default setting (Thanks, Bill!).  Fortunately, we can change it so it doesn’t do that.

To start, right-click on the “This PC” icon (formerly known as “My Computer”) in the Windows Explorer app, and select “Properties” from the context menu.  In the navigation menu on the left side, click “Advanced system settings”.  You might need to provide administrator credentials to continue.  In the System Properties box that comes up, click on the “Advanced” tab, then under “Startup and Recovery” click “Settings…”.  Under “System failure” uncheck the box that says “Automatically restart” then click “Ok” a couple of times to close all the dialogs. 

This should fix the symptom, which is that your system re-boots when you command a shutdown, but it does not fix whatever is causing the behind-the-scenes crash in the first place.  For that, you’re going to need to take a look into the Windows Event Log to see if it contains any clues about what’s causing the crash.  Doing that is a rather involved process, and I’m out of space for this week.  Perhaps I’ll devote a future issue to how to access these logs, but in the meantime, feel free to ask your friendly neighborhood search engine, and be sure and write if you have any problems.

One Response to “Issue #608: March 17-23, 2019”

  • GEORGEC22 says:

    Good morning. Many thanks for the reply. I believe that I followed your instructions and got to this state (well, I am trying to paste a snip here that shows that I really did uncheck the Automatic Restart, but cannot seem to do the paste)

    Anyway I did uncheck. Unfortunately, I still get the restart. I also see no errors listed on the log.


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