Will an improper shutdown harm my computer?

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Error Message I get this question often enough that it’s time for a detailed post. Today, I’m answering Valania’s question:

When you improperly shut down your computer does it harm your computer hardware, or anything else in your computer?

Valania, by “improperly shut down,” I assume you mean pressing the power button instead of clicking Start->Shut Down from Windows. This won’t harm any of your hardware. After all, Windows powers off the PC, too, when you do a “normal” shutdown. Think of it this way: Your computer is made from components similar to those in any other electronic device–like a stereo or TV–and you turn them on and off all the time without any bad effects. However, the data on your hard drive can be damaged by an improper shutdown.

This was a big problem back in the days of Windows 95 and 98. When you restarted after an improper shutdown, the operating system would come up asking you to run scandisk to correct hard disk errors. It’s not as big a problem with Windows XP, but it does happen. If you remove power from the system while data is being written to your hard disk, the data will be incomplete and appear corrupt. Usually, though, a system hang severe enough to warrant pushing the power button is the result of a problem reading or loading a file and your PC won’t suffer any ill effects if you power it down.

Cheers!
The Geek

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2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Geek,
    I was quite worried over this for a while. Actually my UPS is not functioning properly, and power supply also flactuates quite often, so my PC restarts again and again.
    Now, I think I don’t need to worry that my PC is getting harmed.
    Thanks for inputs

  2. Jane Byrne says:

    The only possible harm would be if you have applications running that are making some changes to files or to the registry at the time of doing the hard shut down. The potential is for registry keys being damaged (removed/faulty settings) or files to be in a state of transitions.

    In this scenario, fixing the registry in isolation gives no guarantee it’ll resolve the issue though. You could try Reimage which takes the bigger picture, fixing malfunctions across the full Windows system. At the very least, you could try its free scan to diagnose if it’s the registry and/or faulty files that are causing the issue then chose for yourself how to fix it (by yourself or using Reimage).

    I’ve been using it on 3 PCs for over a year now with great success, so wrote my own review of reimage for pc maintenance.

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