Why does Windows 9x have an option to shut down the computer?
I always thought it was dumb that I still have to turn it
off myself. Why do we bother asking the computer to shut down,
and then we still have to do it? Why do we have to choose
the shut down option? Why can't we just turn the power off?
In simplest terms, Windows opens and closes things when it
feels like it. If you have opened a program, and then close
it, Windows doesn't necessarily close the program or its data
at that time. It might store information in RAM, or in the
physical swap file or temp directory. Windows might write
the information back to its "normal" place sometime
soon, or it might wait until you go to shut down. Problems
arise at the last point here.
When you go to the start menu and choose the shut down option,
Windows quickly puts everything back where it should be. Files
are written back to disk and programs are closed. If you don't
shut down properly Windows doesn't write opened files back
to disk. You can end up with orphaned file fragments, lost
clusters and other nuisances. These can be reported by ScanDisk
as bad sectors even though they are not. To fix this, be sure
to run scandisk with the thorough option checked. It will
test bad sectors to see if they are actually bad. That is
why on newer version of Windows 95 and in Windows 98 ScanDisk
automatically starts when you don't shut down your computer
The book "A Guide to Managing and Maintaining
Your PC" by Jean Andrews (Course Technology)
explains it this way (from page 310 of the 2nd edition):
"A disk can lose allocation units or lose clusters
if a program cannot properly close a file that it has opened.
For example, if you boot your computer while an application
is running (not a good thing to do for this very reason),
the application won't have the opportunity to close a file
and may lose clusters. Another way clusters are lost is
to remove a floppy disk from a drive while the drive light
is still on (also not a good thing to do).
Lost clusters make up a chain of cluster that are not incorporated
into a file."
I recently had a client call me up saying every time he started
the computer it told him that the hard disk had errors. It
warned him that there might be errors in his hard drive translation
mode (LBA). Everything was set fine, but when we ran ScanDisk,
it found thousands of bad sectors. Each one has to be recovered
and it took 6 hours or so to finish. None of the sectors were
actually bad, but because he hadn't shut down the computer
properly a couple of times, this error occurred. There was
also 13MB of lost data. The lost data is usually nothing,
and the errors on the hard drive usually aren't permanent,
but the keyword there is usually. You wouldn't want to find
out the hard way that the errors are permanent and you lost
some crucial data.
The moral of the story is...Don't be in such a rush to go
home from work (or upstairs to bed)! Shut down the computer