I use the Start > Shut Down command at the end of every workday, then pick Stand by. This way I don't have to open my laptop to hit the Sleep or Hibernate keys.

It takes a very long time for the window to come up after I hit Shut Down. At least 60 seconds, and sometimes 2-3 minutes. In the meantime, I can work normally in apps, but the taskbar is completely busy and unresponsive.

Strangely, after the first long delay, if I cancel out, it will come up quickly (a few seconds) if I try it again.

So, a two part question:

1) Has anyone seen this before and know what could cause it?

2) Is there another way to go into stand-by using only software means?

  • does that happen when you try to shut down right after computer boots up?
    – codingbear
    Jul 17, 2009 at 21:59

8 Answers 8


I ran Sysinternals ProcMon once to see what a machine was doing that took it so long to think about shutting down. The answer: explorer.exe scanning the Recycle Bin. So in this case I was able to speed up the shutdown of this machine hugely, by simply emptying the Recycle Bin.

It also explains the reason why it's quick the second time round: because the relevant part of the file system has been cached.

  • I like this answer a lot. I do tend to have a very large Recycle Bin (thousands of entries), and the HDD on this laptop is not that fast. I will see if it helps at the end of the day today. Jul 20, 2009 at 16:55
  • 1
    Yes, I emptied the Recycle Bin, and 6 hours later at the end of the day, the Shut Down window came up instantly. Bravo. Jul 21, 2009 at 0:50

You could try this command from the Run... window:

 %windir%\System32\rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState

Note: to go in standby and avoid hibernation, make sure that the system is hibernation disabled. To confirm that, Click the Start button, go to Run menu and type in Powercfg.cpl and click OK. In the Power Options Propertiesclick Hibernate tab and make sure that Enable hibernation option is unchecked. Click OK/Apply.

See this Microsoft support article: How To Put the System into hibernation or Standby from Run menu


Warning and disclaimer: do not do this if you don't know what you are doing!!!! If you mess something up because you did not follow my instructions, I cannot be held responsible for your actions - Do this at your own risk.

From any folder: On the menu bar,

  • Click [Tools]
  • Select [Folder Options] (A dialog should pop up)
  • Select the [view] tab.
  • There should be a list below titled: Advanced Settings.
    • In this list, scroll down until you find the "Hidden files and folders" line.
    • Put a tick in the "Show hidden files and folders" radio button.
    • Also, scroll a few more lines to "Hide Protected operating system files (Recommended)" And un-check it if it is checked.
    • Hit Apply to save the changes.

Next, go to "My Computer" (from the Start Menu or Desktop). Open the C drive (Or whatever the OS drive is) and look for folders with "Recycle" in them. Open any that can be opened and select all the files and then hit delete (or right click and delete) everything in these folders. Should be something like "recycler - s1-s2-3-2-1...blahblah.." or something like that. Go ahead and delete each one individually. These are essentially just backups of the recycle bin.

Some files will not let you delete them, and others will. This is fine. We want to delete the ones that can be deleted because they are most likely the ones causing all the trouble. The ones that won't delete are ones in use by the system and are fine to leave because they hold the current recycle bin.

Do this for every logical drive in "My Computer" if you have more than a "C" drive.

Once you have completed the above, go to the "real" Recycle Bin on your desktop and empty it. You should see the files you deleted sitting in there. Once the bin is empty, you should be all set.

Make sure to go back to the folder options and change the settings back to where they were to hide the hidden and protected files or else you will see all the ugly system files in all your folders. If you delete any of them, you may cause damage to the system.

Enjoy your much faster shutdown!


If you are using standby then it could be todo with enumerating the memory into a coherant state for serialization to disk. When you do it a second time, it probably has the work it did in the last long pause still in memory, hence it is quick.

Unless it breaks stuff, let it do it. If you have alot of RAM in use then it may take longer.

  • 1
    Standby doesn't dump memory to disk. Hibernate does.
    – gbarry
    Jul 18, 2009 at 4:15
  • ...oh yea.....crap........
    – Aiden Bell
    Jul 18, 2009 at 10:33

You can run shutdown.exe as a scheduled task for when you leave at night, and then set your BIOS to boot the computer every day a few minutes before you get to work.


Windows will 'query' all applications (with windows open, some application use invisible windows) if it's OK to 'end the session', providing for a way to pop-up the 'save changes? yes no cancel' messagebox.

Which applications are you running, and could there be one that takes forever to ponder over the response of the 'query end session' message?

  • Good theory, but I don't think it would send the end session message until I choose Shutdown or Logoff from the Shutdown popup, and this is before that. Jul 18, 2009 at 13:31

What a pickle of a question.

I'm smelling a hard drive issue in the beginning. I would be inclined to run chkdsk /r from the command prompt - reboot, and then once the chkdsk is complete, run a defrag.

I'm willing to bet that the files used when Windows attempts to shut down are either on a faulty sector of the drive, or on a heavily fragmented part.

If you're pulling at straws, you could also run:

  1. sfc /scannow - You may have a wonky system file somewhere.
  2. CCleaner - temp files or bad registry keys could be part of the cause.

I suggest you to download and install Microsoft User Profile Hive Cleanup Service I remember that it helped me in the past when applied to some computers that had similar problems.

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