Make Windows shut down faster

By default, your Windows PC should shut down fairly quickly. Occasionally however, you may experience issues.

Read on and discover how to make yoir Windows PC shut down fast again.

When trying to fix this issue, the three best places to start looking are:

  • Your page file (or paging file)
  • The waittokill service
  • Any other running services

The pagefile

Windows has used a paging file, or pagefile, for a long time now. Basically, it gives your PC extra “memory” by dedicating space on your hard drive to work with your RAM.

Windows has an option, which is disabled by default, that forces the pagefile to be cleaned out at shutdown. This makes sure that none of your data/information is easily accessible should someone remove your hard drive and read the pagefile.

Windows will be slow to shut down if this option is enabled, depending on a few factors like the size of the pagefile and the speed of your hard drive. At this point, you should note that if you are using hard drive encryption, you cont need to worry about cleaning the pagefile at shut down.

To check if your PC is clearing the pagefile at shutdown, you need to access the Windows registry. (*I highly recommend doing as little as possible in your registry, as you can seriously muck things up and break your system if you get it wrong. However, if you follow the steps listed below, they are pretty straight forward and you should be ok.)

To access the registry, press the Windows key + R and type ‘regedit’ (without quotes) in the run dialogue box, and hit ENTER.

Navigate to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management

Look in the right hand pane for “ClearPageFileAtShutdown”. If it is set to 1, then windows is clearing the pagefile file. If you don’t see this item, then Windows isn’t clearing the pagefile.


To change the setting from a 1 to a 0, which will stop clearing the pagefile, double click on “ClearPageFileAtShutdown”, change the 1 to a 0 and click OK.


Check theWaitToKillServiceTimeout Value

When you click shutdown, Windows sends a shutdown “signal” to all running aplications and services. Windows is set to wait for a set amount of time in order to allow these programs the opportunity to close themselves gracefully and save any data.

The default setting for this is 5 seconds. However, if all background services shut down successfully before the five second timer expires, the computer will shut down immediately.

If you want to change this value, open registry editor by pressing Windows+R, typing “regedit”, and pressing Enter.

Navigate to the following key:


Look in the right pane for the “WaitToKillServiceTimeout” and read the value in the Data column.

The value is displayed in milliseconds. For example, if WaitToKillServiceTimeout is set to 5000, Windows will wait 5 seconds. If the value is set to 20000, Windows will wait 20 seconds.

We don’t recommend setting this value to less than 5000. Some services may not be able to shut down properly if you don’t give them enough time.

However, if an application has increased the value to a larger number, you might want to set it back to “5000”. Just double-click “WaitToKillServiceTimeout” and enter a value of “5000”.

Look for Services that Cause Delays in Shutting Down

To check what services are running, you need to open the EVENT VIEWER. This can be done by either right-click the Start button on Windows 10 or 8 and clicking on “Event Viewer” or by pressing Windows+R and typing “eventvwr” into the Run dialog that pops up, and press Enter.

Go to the following section in the Event Viewer:

Applications And Services Logs\Microsoft\Windows\Diagnostics-Performance\Operational

Right-click the “Operational” log and select “Filter Current Log”.

Type “203” into the “Event IDs” field and click “OK”. This will filter the log to show only shutdown events.

Look through the list, which will now only show events that read “This service caused a delay in the system shutdown process”. You’ll see the name of the service slowing things down in the General box. Look next to “File Name” and “Friendly Name”.

The information you see here will point you at any services taking a long time to shut down. For example, VPN software might take a long time to shut down and may be causing a long delay. If you have the software installed but don’t actively use it, you can uninstall it. Search the web for the name of any software you see here to see what it is and whether you can uninstall it. Some services here are system software you can’t do anything about, however.

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