I Want A Hard Power Switch on My Computer

Most computers today do not have a true hard power switch, meaning that you flip it and the computer loses power.  Most of them have some kind of electronics and software in the middle.  The reason for this, ostensibly, is that Windows used to do really bad things if you just flipped the power off without letting the OS shut down first.  So when all is well, pushing the power switch causes windows to shut down, and then the computer powers off.

The problem is that if the computer crashes bad enough, the power switch won't work, because the software or electronics behind it have crashed or locked up with everything else.  Every few days I find myself in a situation where I am crawling on the floor having to pull the plug out of the wall to reboot, or, on a laptop, having to pull the plug and remove the battery.

Give me my hard power switch back!


  1. Rob:

    Go Macintosh! Mine rarely locks up and if so just holding the power button down for 10 seconds shuts it off.

  2. Highway:

    Most PC power supplies have a main power switch on them, out of the back of the computer. This should do what you want it to, although I don't really recommend using it. If you're unplugging anyway, tho, this should do the same a bit easier.

  3. Markus:

    I agree. But I have both Dell/Win2K and Mac/OSX and the problem is the same on both. Sometimes the only thing to do is pull the plug.

  4. Jackal:

    I got one of those little "control centers" years ago. Just a bunch of switches and plugs, but it's handy to turn off the monitor when I'm going away for a while (as a rule, I completely disable all screen savers and Energy Star), turn off the printer when it runs amok (it doesn't have a real power switch either), or power cycle the wireless modem.

    At work, I taped the power strip to the top of the computer case with the switch in the front.

  5. boo:

    Most PCs do hard shutdowns if you hold the power button for 10 seconds. If you're on XP and you have to do a hard shutdown every few days, something more serious is going on.

  6. Max Lybbert:

    People who are suggesting fixes that invlove the keyboard are forgetting the problem.

    If you can turn your computer off by pushing keys, that is only because your operating system agrees to turn the computer off when it reads those keys. If the OS has crashed, it may not be able to read keys, so the solution doesn't fix the problem.

  7. Max Lybbert:

    Sorry. A little lat, but I just re-read the original posts and realized that people weren't talking about keyboards. I don't know how "power button" got confused with "hold down the [X] key."


  8. Bill:

    The force power off by holding down the power button is usually selected as an option in BIOS, so may be disabled in your machine.

    If it is enabled it usually does work to force a hung machine off...I only remember a few times that I had to go for the power cord or the switch on the back of the power supply, and one of those involved a failing power supply.

    I think I agree with the poster above that if you are crashing regularly there is something going on that needs fixing...heat issues (all fans really running at normal speed and dust free?), contact troubles (reseating PCI cards and memory sticks), or software issues...corruption or perhaps scumware?

    Hopefully hardware...can be easier to fix than software issues, but then I'm from the hardware side of the house.

    By the way, I've run heavily loaded systems in both Mac and Wintel worlds...both do have issues..I wouldn't give the Mac much of a plus in the stability column. This is, unfortunatly, a religious issue with much more heat than light in most discussions.

  9. cj:

    I second that emotion!

    I *think* (not sure if I'm remembering correctly), but if you hold the power switch down long enough, it will eventually shut down. Sometimes.

    And yes, my computer *does* have other issues, which makes this a necessity. But sometimes fast & ugly is the way you need to go...

  10. Kim Scarborough:

    I totally agree. I hate it when computer manufacturers want to protect us from ourselves.

    My favorite computer of all time was the IBM PS/2 386. It had a great keyboard, and a *giant* orange switch—turning it on and off was like powering an electric chair.

  11. Makayla Oxley:

    My preferred pc of all time was the IBM PS/2 386. It had an excellent key-board, and a *giant* lemon switch&#8212turning it on and off was like energizing an electrical powered seat.NyLotto