Computer Restarting on Shutdown? How to Fix It

Hardware

If your computer is restarting on shutdown, I’m sure I don’t have to remind you how annoying it can be. I’ll try and show you as much as I can in order to get rid of this problem for good.

Because there isn’t one clear short answer to sort this problem out, you will be taken through a series of things to check and apply if necessary.

This way, you will have the best chance to eliminate the problem seeing as every situation is different.

Tip: Try to apply one change at a time and shut down/turn on your computer twice to test if the fix worked.

Establish whether it’s a software or hardware issue

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This step can save you lots of time. You will be able to figure out whether you have a setting in Windows causing restarts, BIOS settings, or hardware components misbehaving.

Although I won’t say that this is an absolutely necessary step as it’s a little technical and not a perfect result every time.

This method involves installing a live operating system on a USB flash drive.

Tip: Before you begin, take note of important settings in your BIOS like boot drive priorities, SATA mode, etc. and clear the BIOS back to default. I highly recommend unplugging your PC from power and removing the CMOS battery for 2 minutes.

Get your hands on any USB flash drive that you are able to back up and format clean.

  1. Visit the Pen Drive Linux site and download and run the USB installer software to prepare the drive with a live version of Ubuntu. They also show you how to perform the installation step by step.
  2. Boot from the USB drive once you’ve finished setting it up. Usually, you can keep pressing F12 for most computers on the post screen to open the boot menu to select the USB drive as a boot drive as a once-off.
  3. Once the live version of Ubuntu has loaded, select shut down from the drop-down menu on the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If your computer shuts down correctly, while Windows doesn’t, then you will want to focus on the Windows setting fixes portion of this article.

If nothing changes, and your computer still restarts on shut down, then focus your attention on the hardware causes and diagnosing hardware components area of this article.

Windows settings fixes

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There are several Windows settings that can cause this problem. The first one I mention has been the most common culprit I’ve personally found.

Change the Registry setting for PowerdownAfterShutdown

  1. Open the Registry Editor.
  2. Navigate to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon.
  3. Right-click on “PowerdownAfterShutdown” and click on ‘Modify…’.
  4. If the value data is 0, change it to 1. If the value data is 1, change it to 0.
  5. Then click on ‘OK’.
  6. Close the Registry Editor and shut down your computer.

Turn your computer back on, then try shutting it down again to test the change.

Turn off an automatic restart when a system failure occurs

One of the ways that a computer can restart on shutdown is when there is a system failure, and Windows is set to automatically restart when this happens.

If this is the case in your situation, instead of your computer restarting on shutdown, it will most likely display a blue screen instead.

Here are the steps to turn it off:

  1. Open the Control Panel. (Press the Windows key and ‘R’. Type in ‘control’ (without quotes) and press enter.)
  2. Search for ‘system’ (without quotes) in the Control Panel’s search bar.
  3. Click on ‘View advanced system settings’.
  4. Click on the ‘Settings’ button next under Startup and Recovery.
  5. Under the System Failure area in the newly opened panel, uncheck the ‘Automatically restart’ option.

Turn off the hibernation feature

To turn off hibernation, the easiest way is as follows:

  1. Open the Command Prompt with Admin privileges. (Windows key + ‘R’, then type in ‘cmd’ (without quotes) and press enter.)
  2. Type in ‘powercfg /h off’ and press enter.

You will also save some disk space by turning this off.

Check the behavior of the power button setting

  1. Open the Control Panel. (Press the Windows key and ‘R’. Type in ‘control’ (without quotes) and press enter.)
  2. Search for ‘power’ in the search bar.
  3. Click on ‘Change what the power buttons do’.
  4. Select ‘Shut down’ in the drop-down menu.

Although this won’t affect the shutdown procedure overall and is simply there for the power button on your computer, it’s still best to have this set to shut down unless there is a specific reason not to.

Turn off fast startup

This is the least likely to cause issues, but it’s still recommended to give it a try.

Note: This option will still only be present if you have chosen to opt out of disabling hibernation.

  1. Open the Control Panel. (Press the Windows key and ‘R’. Type in ‘control’ (without quotes) and press enter.)
  2. Search for ‘power’ in the search bar.
  3. Click on ‘Change what the power buttons do’.
  4. Click on the blue text: ‘Change settings that are currently unavailable.’.
  5. Uncheck ‘Turn on fast startup (recommended)’.

The BIOS

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There are few things you can eliminate when trying to eliminate the BIOS causing the restarting problem.

Note down all your important settings first. Some of these may include:

  1. Overclocking settings: All settings with memory profiles, CPU speed, or any other clock speed settings.
  2. Hard drive boot order: This is important to make sure that the machine boots off the correct drive every time it’s powered on.
  3. SATA mode: There is usually a feature to change between IDE mode and AHCI. You will get a blue screen if it’s set to the incorrect one at startup.
  4. Date and Time: Make sure to correct the date and time if you have done a full clear CMOS procedure by removing your battery while the computer has been removed from power (which is the method I recommend).

I recommend clearing all of the BIOS settings by unplugging the computer from the power outlet and removing the CMOS battery.

After a 2 minute waiting period, install a new CMOS battery and enter the BIOS setup.

Tip: If your computer won’t boot into Windows afterward, restore the settings you noted down that has anything to do with the boot drive order or SATA mode.

Update the BIOS

It’s also a good idea to update the BIOS just to eliminate the possibility of a bug that may be causing the issue.

The motherboard manufacturer will have BIOS updates and the required tool to perform the update.

Simply perform a Google search for the make and model of your motherboard to find the result that takes you to the manufacturer’s relevant page for your motherboard.

Hardware causing a restart on shutdown

Here are the most common hardware components causing this kind of issue that I’ve seen:

  1. Motherboard: Find a second-hand working motherboard for the cheapest fix. Otherwise, a new motherboard can be an option, if you are still able to use your old RAM and CPU.
  2. Power Supply: Power supplies are relatively cheap and it’s always a good idea to replace it after 5 years.

Unfortunately, there aren’t reliable/simple testing methods that you could employ on a motherboard or power supply that will give a definite result that it is indeed the cause of the restarting problem. Unless of course there is something significantly faulty that makes it easier to diagnose.

Motherboard

Motherboards have been the most common hardware cause (in my personal experience) of a computer restarting on shut down. There are many motherboard components that can fail in order to cause this fault.

It would be a very complex task to diagnose motherboard problems on a component level, and best left to a competent professional, which in most cases, is hardly worth it.

One obvious sign that your motherboard is approaching the end of its life in general, is by finding capacitors that are bulged.

It is also true that a motherboard can continue to run just fine with bulged capacitors, but it’s a clear piece of evidence that shows that the motherboard has aged significantly.

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Power supply

As mentioned before, after the age of around 5 years, it is good practice to replace the power supply with a new one.

It will keep the rest of the components in your computer running happier, and promote the longevity of each and every one.

Hard drive or SSD

To test the hard drive, download, install and run a program called Crystal Disk Info to check the drive’s health.

If the drive tests fine, open the Command Prompt, and type in ‘sfc /scannow’ (without quotes) and press enter.

If certain problems aren’t able to be repaired with the scan, consider backup up important files and settings and perform a fresh Windows installation.

RAM Modules

To eliminate the RAM modules, pull one of them out at a time, and try a shutdown test with one module installed at a time.

If you get the computer to shut down normally with one of the modules removed, find some replacement RAM for a permanent fix.

I also recommend cleaning your RAM contacts which is a very common cause of RAM failure.

Conclusion

I have personally encountered this problem many times. Usually with older hardware, but software problems can also creep in at any time.

I hope I have delivered enough information in order for you to fix this annoying problem for good.

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