Software & AppsOperating System

How To Force Shutdown PC


Every once in a while, your computer may freeze, start running slower than usual or begin opening windows without your consent. If you try to collapse the windows and nothing changes, it could be a cyberattack or virus infection. The only option left is to force shut down the PC in those cases. 

Quick Answer

Press and hold the power button for 10 to 15 seconds or until the computer turns off to force the shutdown of your PC. Suppose you can’t find the power button or the step mentioned above doesn’t work. In that case, the last resort will be unplugging the computer power plug from the power socket.

If you’re using a laptop with an external battery and holding the power button does nothing, the best thing to do is to remove the external battery. 

This article will guide you on forcing your PC to shut down when it freezes, the circumstances where forcibly shutting down your PC is necessary, and the risks included.

Overview of How To Force Shutdown PC

A PC freezing while in use can be frustrating and is usually a sign of a severe problem. Fortunately, you can force shut down the PC and power it on again. Even though you may lose what you were working on, force shutting down may help troubleshoot your PC. 

How To Force Shutdown PC

A forced shutdown achieves the same goal as shutting down your computer normally. However, a forced shutdown cuts power to the motherboard before closing all active applications. Only resort to a forced shutdown when all other options fail.

Follow the procedure below to force the shutdown of your PC.

  1. Hold down the power button for more than ten seconds or until the computer shuts down. If the power button emits light, hold it down until it is off.
  2. Release the power button and check for any indication that the computer is on. Repeat the first step if the PC didn’t shut down correctly. 

Unplug the computer power plug from the wall plug if that doesn’t work.

Alternatively, you may use the Alt + F4 shortcut, and here’s how.

  1. Press the shortcut combination Alt + F4.
  2. On the small window that appears, select “Shutdown“.
  3. Click “OK.”

Circumstances Where You Should Force Shutdown

Forcibly shutting down your PC is risky and only recommended in certain situations.

For instance, if your computer freezes for a few seconds and then responds, there’s no need to force a shutdown. In such a case, the best thing to do is shut down the PC as usual.  

To shut down the PC normally, follow the steps below.

  1. Save all unsaved files and close all open windows by clicking X at the top right corner of each window.
  2. Launch the Start menu and click on the power button symbol.
  3. Select “Shutdown“.

Force a shutdown only if you face any of the situations below.

When Your Computer Freezes for a Long Time

Suppose you wait for five minutes and your computer doesn’t respond to any action you take. In that case, the only option left is to shut it down forcibly. 

Serious Malware Infection

Malware is intrusive software designed by a cybercriminal to steal data or damage your PC. If you notice any of the following actions, you may have malware on your system.

  • Suspicious pop-up ads.
  • Security warnings.
  • Inexplicable freezes or crashes.
  • Ransom demands.
  • Suspicious increase in internet traffic.
  • Repeated error messages.
  • Programs are running or closing without your consent.
  • PC won’t restart or shut down normally.

If your PC is infected with malware to the point that it can’t operate, the best thing to do is force shut down the PC. After that, look for a professional to help you remove the malware from your system.

When Your Computer Is Overheating

Modern-day PCs have a means of thermal throttling if the CPU gets too hot. If you’re overclocking your PC, the heat sensors will slow down the PC to release some of the heat. Sometimes that doesn’t help, and the computer may shut down on its own to prevent damage. 

However, heat sensors may sometime fail to work, especially if you have a faulty CPU cooler fan. If the PC gets too hot and doesn’t respond to any action you take, the best thing to do is force it to shut down to prevent damage to the motherboard.

It can be much safer to force shutdown an overheating PC than conducting a standard system shut down if you notice smoke emanating from the CPU.

When a Heavy Software Freezes

Suppose your PC does not meet the system requirements to run heavy software, but you go ahead and install it. In that case, the software would likely freeze when you try to run it. If you try to kill the app using the Alt + F4 shortcut, but your PC doesn’t respond, you’ll need to force shutdown your PC. 

Risks of a Forced Shutdown

Forcibly shutting down your PC comes with risks. Here are some you should be aware of.

  • You’ll lose all unsaved work.
  • It may cause data corruption,
  • It can cause a system crash.
  • It can erase data on your hard drive.


When using a Windows PC, you might face a situation where an application suddenly stops responding and the PC freezes. Suppose you cannot force close the application or take any action. In that case, force shutting down the PC comes in handy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if holding down the power button does not shut down the PC?

If the computer doesn’t turn off by holding down the power button, pull the computer’s power plug from the wall outlet. Alternatively, remove the battery if you’re using a laptop with an external battery.

Is forcibly shutting down your PC risky?

Forcibly shutting down your computer comes with risks, including the items below.

• Data might get corrupted.
• There’s a risk of data loss.

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