What is the difference between shutdown and restart?

What is the difference between shutdown and restart?  I am under the impression that shutdown closes ALL processes, completely clears the RAM, and clears the processor cache.  I need to know if 1) this is a correct assumption, and 2) which is better for daily system maintenance.  Thank you in advance.

Hello Jeremy_1976,


Your assumption on shutdown is correct. Basically it shuts down all processes and turns your computer off completely. Restart, on the other hand, temporarily shuts down your PC then fires it up again. This usually happens when Windows Updates are installed. After the install the system is restarted (re-booted) to ensure that any update has been installed correctly and is working as it should. You may be slightly mixed up with restarting and hibernation. Restarting is, as I have stated above, basically a reboot of your machine. In the end your PC is On again after a restart. Hibernation, on the other hand saves all data currently in memory to a special file then turns the PC off. When you next switch your PC on, i.e., coming out of hibernation, the hibernation files is used to restore you PC's condition to that of when you initially hibernated. In other word any programs you had open previously to hibernating will again automatically open and be ready for you to use.


Hibernation or sleep for that matter is for short term use. It is okay to hibernate or sleep if you are going to be away from your PC for half an hour or so. If you will be away longer than that I suggest you shutdown completely.


A point to remember regarding hibernation is that, if you use hibernate, you cannot, once you subsequently come out of hibernation, install any programs or updates. You have to shutdown and reboot normally to do this.


This forum post is my own opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion or view of Microsoft, its employees, or other MVPs.


John Barnett MVP: Windows XP Associate Expert: Windows Expert - Consumer:  www.winuser.co.uk |  vistasupport.mvps.org | xphelpandsupport.mvps.org | www.silversurfer-guide.com

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Last updated February 25, 2021 Views 54,907 Applies to: