When you want to turn/switch off (shutdown) a Windows 10 computer NEVER EVER turn it off by using its power button, normally located on the front of the computer or on the top of a laptop. And NEVER EVER turn/switch off (shutdown) a Windows 10 computer by the electricity mains. Only turn/switch off (shutdown) a Windows 10 computer with its power button or electricity mains when there is no other way to turn/switch it off (shut it down); normally when it has frozen/crashed.
If you do turn/switch off (shutdown) a Windows 10 computer using its power button or electricity mains you risk damaging the computer, the Windows 10 operating system and your personal/valuable files.
To turn/switch off (shutdown) a Windows 10 computer correctly you first need to left click on the START Menu button, which will reveal the Start Menu menu-items (Fig 1.1 below), and from there click on the menu-item called POWER (Fig 1.1) to reveal the Shutdown Options menu-items and then on click on the SHUTDOWN menu-item (Fig 1.2) to actually shutdown (switch off completely) Windows 10.
Fig 1.0 - Click on the START button to reveal the Start Menu
Fig 1.1 - Hover the mouse pointer over the START Menu menu-items and then click on the POWER menu-item
Fig 1.2 - Hover the mouse pointer over the Shutdown Options menu-items and then click on the SHUTDOWN menu-item
As Windows 10 shuts down the computer you will see the message Shutting Down - The shutdown process begins by logging off (disconnecting) Windows 10 from the currently active user account. In general Logging Off means to disconnect from something, such as a User Account or Internet Account. Logging On means the reverse; To connect to something. For more information read the Log Off/On section. Once Windows 10 has logged you off (signed you out) it then saves your current computer settings and personal (desktop) settings before actually turning off (physically shutting down) the computer.
If you turn off the computer by the electricity mains or power button (at any time) Windows 10 might not be able to start up again, which in turn means you risk losing your settings, corrupting Windows 10 system files and/or losing your valuable files. Why? Because the settings Windows 10 saves are to do with important computer matters, such as your profile (user account information, password, desktop theme, hardware configuration and so on). Most things you do with your computer involve Windows 10 saving settings for that action. So if you change the desktop theme from blue to green Windows 10 saves your changes in the desktop settings part of its system file.
If Windows 10 is saving some settings and you then turn off the computer by the electricity mains or power button, because you have finished using it and are unaware that Windows 10 is saving your settings, those settings will probably be corrupt. Upon starting Windows 10 again everything could appear fine, but the damage might show itself later. For example: If the computer was turned off while you were on the internet you might not have access to the internet next time. Or if the computer was turned off while the desktop settings were being saved you might not have a desktop to look at next time - Windows 10 might start up as normal (asking you for your password) but when it reaches the desktop stage it will not know what to display as it knows nothing anymore about your desktop settings.
Fortunately with Windows 10 it saves your previous settings from the day before for example. So if you do have problems Windows 10 might be able to turn the clock back and restore your computer settings. And power buttons on many computers these days also have a safety mechanism whereby they actually turn off the computer correctly, allowing settings to be saved, instead of just powering off the computer. This is exactly what the Shutdown menu-item does. It informs running software that you want to turn off the computer, so that each piece of running software then has a chance to save its settings before closing itself. There is no excuse for ignorance - Always turn off the computer by clicking on the SHUTDOWN MENU-ITEM.
If you look at the SHUTDOWN options closely you will notice two other options, one called SLEEP and the other called RESTART. If you click on the SLEEP option (menu-item) Windows 10 will put the computer into Sleep Mode.
SLEEP Mode saves your entire session (work of the currently logged in user), including all open documents, to both Memory and the Hard Drive so that when you start the computer next time (wake it up from Sleep Mode) your session/work appears as you left it last time (before clicking on the SLEEP menu-item).
SLEEP Mode uses very little power, almost like a stand-by mode, making the computer start up (wake from SLEEP Mode) a lot faster. You don't need to worry about losing your currently opened documents/work because of your battery naturally draining power as Windows 10 automatically saves all that work and turns off the computer if the battery becomes too low. Use SLEEP Mode when you are going to be away from the computer for a while such as when you take a coffee/toilet break.
If you want your hard drive to live longer choose to shutdown the computer completely, using the SHUTDOWN menu-item, when you have no documents/work open. This is because no big hard drive file ('save currently opened work' file) will be used/needed to save work as their will be no work to save.
NOTE WELL - With SHUTDOWN Mode your currently opened documents/work will not be saved, therefore you must manually save all of your work before closing down any opened programs and shutting down the computer completely.
RESTART Mode is the same as SHUTDOWN Mode except that the computer is started up again after the initial shutdown process.
NOTE WELL - With RESTART Mode your currently opened documents/work will not be saved, therefore you must manually save all of your work before closing down any opened programs and restarting the computer.
HIBERNATE Mode (not shown here - found in the advanced Power Settings) is similar to SLEEP Mode, but uses less power when it starts up the computer again. HIBERNATE Mode is ideal for those occasions when you need to leave the computer is a SLEEP Mode for a longer period of time (i.e. 3-8 hours or over night). This could be because you need to leave an important document open until other information to be inserted into it becomes available (i.e. you are working on a joint project). Note: HIBERNATE Mode is not available on all computers - It was really designed for laptops/tablets only.
NOTE WELL - If devices connected to the computer (such as monitors, printers or scanners) do not work properly after waking up the computer from HIBERNATE Mode (or SLEEP Mode) you may need to disconnect and then reconnect those devices and/or restart the computer in order for those devices to work again.
Techical Info: - HIBERNATE Mode means you can resume your session, even after a power loss, when you switch the computer on again because of the way it saves previously (currently) opened work to a large hard drive file before putting the computer into hibernation. The large file is reloaded (opened) when the computer starts up again. SLEEP Mode is faster than HIBERNATE Mode because of the way it utilises the data transfer speed of Memory, instead of the slower Hard Drive file speed.
This next example is for Advanced Users only. It involves changing certain POWER Control Panel settings in order to make the physical POWER (Off/On) button on a laptop act as a SHUTDOWN button.
By default (normal behaviour) pressing the physical POWER (Off/On) button on a laptop puts the laptop into SLEEP Mode, as described above. If you want to change this default behaviour you need to go to the POWER OPTIONS control panel and change the advanced settings.
Fig 2.0 - Click on the POWER OPTIONS control panel (program link) to continue
When you get to the Power Options window your current power plan will have its radio (circle/dot) button selected. In this example, the Balanced (Recommended) power plan. On the far right-hand-side of the radio button is the text link CHANGE PLAN SETTINGS, which you need to click on in order to get to the EDIT PLAN SETTINGS window (Fig 2.2 below).
Fig 2.1 - Click on the CHANGE PLAN SETTINGS link to continue
Fig 2.2 - Click on the CHANGE ADVANCED POWER SETTINGS link to continue
Clicking on the CHANGE ADVANCED POWER SETTINGS text link (above) opens the POWER OPTIONS Advanced Settings window (below). Scroll down the window until you reach the heading POWER BUTTONS AND LID and then click on its + sign to expand it, revealing its subheadings LID CLOSE ACTION, POWER BUTTON ACTION and SLEEP BUTTON ACTION. From there click on the + sign belonging to the POWER BUTTON ACTION subheading to reveal its options.
To change the action of the physical, laptop, POWER (Off/On) button you need to change the drop-down menu option for both the On Battery and Plugged In settings; from SLEEP to SHUT DOWN.
Fig 2.3 - Change the On Battery and Plugged In settings to SHUT DOWN
When you have changed both the On Battery and Plugged In settings, from SLEEP to SHUT DOWN, simply APPLY them or OK them. After that, close the Power Options window (if need be) and then the Control Panel window.
Fig 2.4 - Click on the OK button to apply the new settings
Now when you press the physical, laptop, POWER (Off/On) button it will shutdown the computer completely instead of putting it into SLEEP Mode. If you want to put the computer to sleep only, from now on you will have to use the SLEEP menu-item on the START Menu.