Turning off different appliances is usually quite easy. You press the lamp button or turn the key in the car. But for some reason it is a little more complicated to turn off the computer. No, it is not difficult to physically shut down the computer but instead of shutting down directly the computer goes through several steps and the whole process can take a little while.
We all probably know that holding down the power button and forcibly shutting down the computer is not good. Or you should not unplug the cord if you have a stationary computer. But few know why we should not do this.
Why does it take a while to turn off the computer?
There is actually a good reason why it might take a while to turn off your computer. Because when you click “Turn off your computer”, your computer goes through a long series of steps that are, first and foremost, designed to protect your computer’s data.
If you forcibly shut down your computer, when you have unsaved work in progress, that work will probably disappear forever. Some modern programs have automatic saving features, but unfortunately these are far from perfect. So one thing that you may experience when trying to turn off your computer is that your computer asks you to save everything that is left unsaved.
But there are also less obvious things going on in the background when you turn off your computer. One of these things is that your operating system sends signals to the programs that are running that they should shut down. It’s a bit like a parent telling their kids to got to bed in the evening. This is important because these programs can be in the middle of sending data to your disk. It can be anything from a file download to a software update.
If you forcefully shut down your computer, you run the risk of getting corrupt or broken data on your hard drive. And corrupt data can be something your computer simply can’t use. In addition to damaging the files that were being written, other files that are in a cache or which are physically located on the disk can be damaged by this corrupted data.
Journaling can save your computer
Fortunately, many operating systems have something called “Journaling”. This means that the operating system keeps a log of the various changes that occur to reduce the risk of corrupt files. But these systems are not flawless and problems can still occur if you do not shut down your computer properly.
DO NOT turn off during updates
We have probably all seen the clear instructions when making an update that you should NOT turn off the computer. And there is a reason why it is so important. If you forcibly shut down your computer in normal use, the result is often no worse than losing some unsaved work. However, turning off your computer during an update can cause problems that prevent the system from restarting, at all.
So to sum it all up, as long as your computer is not hopelessly frozen and there is no hope that it will come to life, then you should avoid a forced shut-down of your computer. Shut down your computer the right way, it may take a few extra minutes but in the end it is easier to reinstall an entire operating system.