Many Windows computers support a boot mode named "Fast Startup". You will often find that such devices do not support wake-on-LAN (though there can be exceptions). If you want both (who wouldn't?), then you might ask what you can do to get both to work. This article provides relevant details and options.

1E expects that in almost all cases, wake-on-LAN is much more valuable than Fast Startup. The only likely exception is very small devices, which are most likely consumer or special-purpose (such as IoT) devices. Therefore the best practice is to disable Fast Startup if your organization benefits from wake-on-LAN.

Fast startup defined

"Fast Startup" sounds promising but we should remember what it does not include:

  • Faster reboots
  • Faster resumes from hibernate or standby
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In fact hibernate might not even be an option depending on how you configure Fast Startup. Fast Startup makes things faster only when you shut down the computer and then start it later (not on reboots or resumes).

As Microsoft says, Fast Startup is a "a type of shutdown that uses a hibernation file to speed up the subsequent boot. During this type of shutdown, the user is logged off before the hibernation file is created. Fast Startup allows for a smaller hibernation file, more appropriate for systems with less storage capabilities". So a core reason to provide this feature is to reduce disk consumption. That can be important in some cases (such as small devices).

By default Windows will preallocate disk space equivalent to 40% of the computer's physical memory size for hibernation. You can preallocate more if desired but not less. With Fast Startup on Windows 10, you can allocate only 20% of the computer's physical memory size (but that's when you use the option to use traditional hibernate). If you have a device with 2 GB of memory and 23 GB of disk space, 20% of the memory (400 MB) is 1.7% of the total disk space. If three quarters of the disk is used by the operating system, applications, and data, that 400 MB is 7% of the free space. That could be significant to the user but is likely to be exceptional.

How fast is "fast"?

We should also consider the "fast" part of Fast Startup. How much faster is it? Details will vary by model, but here are a few examples:

Model Form FactorWithout Fast StartupWith Fast StartupDelta for Fast StartupResume from Hibernate  Resume from Standby
HP Compaq Elite 8300 CMTDesktop40 seconds15 seconds25 seconds19 seconds3 seconds
Microsoft Surface Pro 4Tablet2091115<3
Dell XPS 13Laptop2819984
Dell Venue 8 ProTablet16115101

Relatively speaking, those are impressive improvements as compared to startup without Fast Startup. However, in terms of absolute time (which is what matters to users), the improvements are small. The exception to that might be if the user was shutting down multiple times per day, but that would be very unusual (although going to standby multiple times per day is not unusual at all). And the times are not significantly different as compared to resume from hibernate or standby.

Manually managing Fast Startup

Fast Startup is enabled by default. If you want to disable it:

  1. Go to Power Options in the Control Panel
  2. Click "Choose what the power buttons do"
  3. Click "Change settings that are current unavailable"
  4. Uncheck "Turn on fast startup"

To test the impact of Fast Startup:

  1. Shut down the computer (do not put it in standby or hibernate)
  2. Start the computer and start a stopwatch
  3. When the log in prompt appears, stop the stopwatch
  4. Record the time
  5. Toggle Fast Startup (enable or disable it)
  6. Repeat steps 1 to 4
  7. Compare the times

To maximize disk savings from Fast Startup (Windows 10 only):

  1. Open an administrator-enabled command prompt
  2. Enter the command: PowerCfg.exe /hibernate /type reduced 

PowerCfg.exe tells you how much disk space is allocated for the hibernate file, so you can the compare impact of the options by trying variations on that command (/type reduced, /type full, or /size N)

Note that when the type is "reduced', you lose the ability to hibernate the computer (in the full sense of saving the user state, like standby). Normal hibernate can be used with Fast Startup but then you don't have any disk space savings. Normal hibernate can be re-enabled by changing the type from "reduced" to "full" in the command above. You might also have to re-enable the option to select hibernate in your shutdown menus (that can be done in much the same was Fast Startup was disabled above.

A small consideration is that some people find that Fast Startup can cause system reliability problems. This is commonly due to device driver or firmware issues. Sometimes these can be corrected with device driver or firmware updates.

Wake-on-LAN for connected standby devices

Some devices (tablets and some 2-in-1's, for example) support Connected Standby. Sometimes these kinds of device can have very limited disk space and thus could benefit from Fast Startup. Connected Standby does not support wake-on-LAN and so using Fast Startup might seem a logical choice in these cases. 1E is working on a solution to enable WakeUp for such devices.

Your options

Should your organization use Fast Startup extensively? As with many aspects of computer management, "it depends":

  • Does your organization commonly shut down computers?
    • If not, Fast Startup will not help
    • If you do, have you considered using hibernate or standby? They are also fast and virtually equivalent in power savings 
      • If you are doing shut downs to reset the computers or ensure software updates are applied, you can enforce reboots instead and then hibernate or standby
    • Will the time savings from using Fast Reboot be significant to (or noticed by) your users?
  • Is disk space a serious concern?
    • Are you willing to not be able to use hibernate?
    • Do your computers commonly have large memory and small disks (especially small free disk space)?
      • If it's a small fraction of your devices that are problematic, you could replace them, free up space through other means, or choose to not use wake-on-LAN on those devices only
      • If such devices are very common in your organization, then choosing to use Fast Startup (and not use wake-on-LAN) could be the right choice for your organization

Given those considerations, 1E expects that in almost all cases, wake-on-LAN is much more valuable than Fast Startup. The only likely exception is very small devices, which are most likely consumer or special-purpose (such as IoT) devices. Therefore the best practice is to disable Fast Startup if your organization benefits form wake-on-LAN.

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