Information Technology Services

Restart? Shut down? Log Off? Lock?

Confused about what state your Windows computer should be left in?  It has been the experience at Help Desk that some people are convinced that they should never turn off their computers, while others are convinced they should always power down their computers.

The ITS Help Desk would like to take this opportunity to provide recommendations for the Windows Shut Down options you can use and when to use them.

Locking your computer: 

If you are going to be away from your computer for a period of time, ITS recommends choosing Lock Computer .  To do this, hold CTRL/ALT/DEL keys and choose the "Lock Computer" button.  Your computer should also be set to lock automatically after a period of inactivity.

Logging Off your computer: 

If you are going to be away from your computer, and others will need to use the computer ITS recommends choosing Log Off.  Again, hold CTRL/ALT/DEL keys and choose the "Log Off" button.

Restarting your computer:

When you leave for the day, ITS recommends you choose to Restart the computer.  When you hold CTRL/ALT/DEL you must choose the "Shut Down" button then select "Restart" from the drop down menu. 

Restarting will close all applications you currently have running, log you out, shut down, and restart the computer.  This process will install any Microsoft Windows updates that were previously downloaded and require a restart of your machine.  Restarting your computer will also clear out any “cob webs” that sometimes cause your computer to behave mysteriously.  ITS recommends that your machine be restarted at least 2-3 times a week.

Shutting Down your computer: 

Using the Shut Down option is only necessary if you are going to physically move the machine or you’ve been notified of a scheduled power outage.  After you hold down the CTRL/ALT/DEL keys you must choose "Shut Down" then select "Shut Down" from the drop down menu.

To help conserve energy you can turn off the monitor at any time you leave your desk.  Even if you do not, ITS sets all of their deployed computers to automatically turn off the monitor and hard drive after periods of inactivity.

If you have any questions concerning these recommendations, please contact the Help Desk directly at 508-793-7745 or


Sharon Griffin Edson
December 2008