How to shut down your computer properly: Important to-do’s before closing your computer

There are many benefits to shutting down your computer properly. If you simply close your laptop after each use, your computer could experience degraded performance over time. Also, if you don’t use features that lock access to your device, simply closing the notebook means that anybody nearby could quickly have access to your open documents and sessions.

How to shut down your computer properly
Tips to keep your computer running smoothly

A 2020 article from Reader’s Digest noted that, while the differences between fully shutting down a computer and simply entering sleep or hibernation mode are not as stark today as they were for older models, users should still periodically power their machines off in order to clear the memory, ensure that all background apps are closed and allow for updates to be completed.

The experts interviewed by Reader’s Digest agreed with a 2020 article published by the information technology department of the University of Wisconsin at Madison about the time frame for power cycling. Users should fully and properly shut down their computers at least once a week.

Steps for shutting down your computer properly

Simply tapping the power button will likely only put your machine in sleep or hibernation mode, and holding the button down to force your computer off could damage software or lead to data loss.

Here’s how to shut down your computer properly.

1. Save your progress

Many modern-day applications save progressively or at least will do so before you exit the program. This isn’t always the case, however, so go ahead and press “Save” on your open documents to ensure everything is up to date.

If you’ve kept several tabs open in your browser that you don’t want to lose, simply use bookmarks so you can come back to them later.

2. Log off from social media

This practice is a must for instances where you’ll be closing out of a shared computer or just putting it into sleep mode, but it may be a good idea to end any open social media sessions even if you’re shutting down your computer. This minimizes the risk that anybody will be able to exploit your account from that machine.

3. Close all open applications

Be sure to exit any programs you have open. Verify that they’re closed and not just minimized. You can quit some apps simply by closing them, while others may require you to complete a specific action. Alternatively, you can shut down the system as is and opt to reopen all the same windows and tabs upon restarting.

4. Log out of your user account

Once your apps are closed, if you’re on a shared computer like a library laptop, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve logged off. Exit your user session before closing the computer, and return the device or shut it down as needed.

5. Shut down your computer properly

If you’re using the Microsoft Windows operating system, click the Start button, which looks like a Windows icon, in the bottom left corner of your screen. Then, depending on which version of the operating system you’re using, you’ll either simply select “Shut down” or you’ll first click “Power” and then “Shut down.”

MacOS users will select the Apple menu with the Mac icon and then click “Shut Down.”

To shut down a Chromebook, click the time in the bottom right corner of your screen, then navigate to “Sign out” and “Shut down.”

How to restart a computer

Restarting your computer is very similar to shutting it down. Both Windows and macOS users will follow the same steps as listed above, except they will select “Restart” instead of “Shut down.” Some Windows users will have to click an arrow next to the “Shut down” button in order to locate the option labeled “Restart.” Chrome OS users may have to simply shut down their computer and then power it back on.

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