How-To Geek

Make Windows Vista Shut Down Services Quicker

The more applications that you install into Windows, the longer the computer takes to shut down. This is especially true for applications that install a service that runs when the computer starts, and even more true for services that refuse to shut down quickly, or time out when being shut down.

To change Windows to shut down the services quicker, open the registry editor, and browse down to the following key


You should see a key in the right-hand window called “WaitToKillServiceTimeout”, with a default value of 20000, which represents 20000 milliseconds, or 20 seconds. You can change this to a value of 5000 for 5 seconds.

You won’t want to make this value much less than 5 seconds.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/6/07

Comments (27)

  1. Richard

    I am a new vista user. I am unable to find my registry on Vista.

  2. Matt

    Start Menu –> Type following in Start Search box: “regedit.exe” (without quotes). Click on the program that shows up. Voila.

    – Matt

  3. Paul Forsberg

    As above, typed regedit.exe in search box. PC goes “beep”, screen goes gray and system locks up.

  4. Anon

    Click Continue.

  5. manny

    try just typing ‘regedit’ w/o quotes, thats how i always do it and it works fine..

  6. justwantedtoknow

    any side effect??

  7. Ross Peebles

    Instead of 20000, my computer showed 2000. How did that happen? I didn’t change anything.

  8. EJ Matlock

    Thank you, you helped me and just made me happy!!

  9. Paul CKK

    Doesn’t seem to help out shutting down any quicker in Vista Business?

  10. Amodi

    hi Please help me I’m unable to watch videos in full screen I’m having Vista in my new laptop I installed macro media but it haven’t work Either what shall i do so that I can watch online movies in full screen plzz let me know about it…Thanks in advance

  11. SigFig

    This Is Great :-)>.It works wonders on vista home premium.

  12. oli

    Thank you for this hint!

  13. jw

    Im writing a script for shutting down services on a windows 2k3 based machine(several machines, running SQL, exchange, etc..) , can any1 tell me which services can be easily stopped without any negative countereffects ? I know it’s got nothing to do with this thread, but im looking on the internet for a solution for about 2days now and i still havent found anything really usefull .. but i really need to make this script. So if anyone can help me out, please mail me on “” , your help will be very appreciated!

  14. The Shadow

    I’ve been setting that shutdown time to 1000 (one second) for years, in both XP and Vista.
    That’s a very old XP tweak.
    All my XP tweaks are on my website. Free to read or download.

    The Shadow

  15. khayman

    could you please leave the link to your site, the shadow? thanks you!

  16. The Shadow

    Another quick way to get Vista to shut down is to create a “Quick Shutdown” shortcut on your Vista desktop.
    %windir%\System32\shutdown.exe -s -t 00 -f

    copy and paste the above line into a new Desktop Shortcut and you’ll have your very own “Quick Shutdown” icon. Just click it to quickly shut down Vista.

    All the tweaks on my website are for XP, tried and true.
    Some may work for Vista and some may not.
    Use at your own peril. :))

    Good Luck,
    The Shadow

  17. Pablito


    but could explain why “You won’t want to make this value much less than 5 seconds.” ???

  18. TheShadow

    Every time I read this subject on a different forum, someone has a different opinion about that shutdown time. I ran my own PC at just one second delay for several weeks, before sharing the tip with my customers. Now I have hundreds of people using one second for that setting with Never a problem.

    So if one second works, why waste the other four seconds?
    On my own PC, from the time I click my Quick Shutdown Icon till the lights go off is less than 8 seconds.

    For Vista, I use this script to tweak the registry in just one second. Using a script also eliminates the possibility of making a mistake while manually editing the registry.
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management]

    Copy the lines between the lines of stars, into a new Notepad document and save
    with a name like:

    If the second tweak scares you, then just leave it out.
    It does work to greatly enhance the performance of Windows.
    It’s almost exactly the same tweak I used on XP.

    Before you ever just blindly take someone else’s word for something…..try it for yourself !!!
    I’ve been at this stuff way too many years to believe anything, till I try it myself.

    Cheers Mates!
    The Shadow :)

  19. JadeEmperor

    for the second tweak above, it should be noted that enabling LargeSystemCache gives you a fair bit of performance but in some intensive applications, it degrades performance.

    You’ve been warned!

  20. Autobot032

    Most of this worked for me, but Vista was still quite slow on shut down, until I did the following:

    1.) In the Processes tab in Task Manager, I shut down:
    Windows Media Center
    WMC systray icon
    Taskeng Task Scheduler Engine.

    2.) In the Services tab, I shut off:
    Windows Media Center
    eHome infrared controller

    Then went directly to shut down the computer, a warning popped up telling me that Task Manager is used to shut down services and programs so that I won’t lose progress in any open programs, or that I could continue as is.

    I continued as is, and wham…down in 15 seconds, and fully powered off.

    Now…if only I could speed up startup. A minute 45 every time is nothing short of ridiculous. I even unplugged all of my USB devices and shut down unneeded functions in the BIOS setup. Nada, still 1:45.


  21. AussieNoob

    I don’t understand what the advantage of saving 15 seconds at shutdown is. I click on ShutDown and walk away, simple. Maybe I’m just not Geeky enough yet.

  22. TheShadow

    WELL, that separates the Noobs from the Technicians.

    When you shut down your PC from within Windows, either with the normal path or with a Quick Shutdown Icon, the PSU never really shuts off. It’s still running and providing power to the motherboard and the START switch.
    Again, here’s the shortcut for a Quick Shutdown in Vista.

    %windir%\System32\shutdown.exe -s -t 00 -f

    To really SHUT DOWN your PC you must remove Line Power.
    On every one of my computer benches, there is a power strip which provides power to the PC and monitor. After Windows has done it’s little power down thing, I flip the power switch on the Power Strip to remove all power from both the PC and the Monitor.
    That’s the only SAFE way to shut down a PC.

    I actually saw a PSU explode, while in the Powered OFF mode. I don’t want any power at all, going into my system when I’m not there to monitor it.

    SO, yes I want the Windows shutdown to go as smoothly and quickly as possible, because I’m sitting there with my finger on the Power Strip Switch, just waiting to flip it when the screen goes black and the power light goes OFF on the tower.

    Both my XP machine and my Vista machine shut down in 5 to 8 seconds.

    It’s 100% do’able.

    Happy New Year Everyone!
    The Shadow :)

  23. Ray

    I have a Yukai 750 milliamp UPS that uses Winpower software to switch it off if the battery runs out of juice,my question is that the software asks for a shutdown command to switch the system off ,so,can I use the same command as suggested to be used on a desktop as my shutdown instruction and if not what would you suggest .My operating system is Vista Home Premiunm

  24. Earl Truss

    BTW there does not appear to be a way to print comments along with an article. Am I missing something or is this just a way to discourage people from using paper?

  25. Tony Patriarche

    I have Vista 64 Home Premium SP2. “WaitToKillServiceTimeout” doesn’t exist in the registry anywhere, so far as I could tell. The closest was “WaitToKillAppTimeout” under H-KEY_USERS…Desktop.

    Also if you shorten the shutdown too much, isn’t there a risk of losing cached or buffered data?

    What I’d like is a way to speed bootup and user login … my new quadcore 64 bit is almost as slow as my 7-year-old XP! Even with the improved information on services it’s pretty hard to know which services and background apps you don’t need. F’rinstance, a music editor I use extensively requires .NET, dunno why.

  26. TheShadow

    On the “Black Viper” web site, there is a list of XP services that can either be shut down or put into Manual mode. There is also a page for Vista.

    When I wrote my batch file to “Kill Services” (for both XP and Vista) I used the information in the “Safe” column. There are many more services that can be disabled, in Vista, than there were in XP.

    There is much argument as to how much disabling unneeded services really helps system performance.
    But despite the nay-sayers, I shut down everything I don’t need, both in Services and TSR’s. That’s the junk that shows up in your “Startup” folder, that you really don’t need. Like all those update schedulers and reminders.

    I about choke when I read someone’s ‘Hijack This’ log and the RUN list scrolls off the screen.
    That’s so ridiculous, I can’t believe that some people actually run their PC’s like that.

    Get rid of the JUNK running in your PC and it will run much faster, and more reliable.

    Cheers Mates!
    The Shadow :)

  27. Tony Patriarche

    Thanks, Shadow.

    I agree totally about getting rid of the junk (and sometimes legitimate apps and even devices). However, it is often hard to tell from the description what services etc are actually in use by some app — and time consuming to use trial-and-error for each one.

    I long ago disabled pretty much all the unused services on my XP. I expect Vista will be an even bigger job, so I’m not looking forward to it. However, in working on my XP I discovered (using Task Manager) that 2 apps/services were the major bottle-necks. WMP net sync was consuming huge CPU cycles, at least whenever it ran. Also, (with all due respect to McAfee), McAfee AV was using over 50% of resources. No criticism of McAfee intended; but on my particular computer it was a hog; in someone else’s config it might just as well be NAV or some other real-time service. A third example: PC-Tools Malware program conflicts badly with NAV (known problem).

    So for those who favor a more cautious approach, go into Task Manager (Ctl-Alt-Del), especially if you notice a sudden slowdown, and sort by CPU cycles or RAM used; look for the serious hogs and get rid of them or replace them if possible before doing a wholesale hack.

    Another useful aid, especially if you are disabling many services at once, is to create an Excel (or other S/S) file listing all services you have changed & the date. It’s saved my bacon a couple of times.

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