Avoid accidental shut down or restart in Windows 10 with ShutdownGuard

Windows 10 is known to auto restart your PC when it installs updates. This is completely unacceptable no matter how important the update is. If the user does not restart the operating system for a certain period of time, Windows 10 starts showing warnings that the PC will be restarted at a specific time. Using a simple, third party tool called ShutdownGuard, you can stop automatic shutdown, restart, and logoff without affecting manual ways to do it.


Microsoft provides an API in Windows 10 which applications can use to delay or veto a shut down, restart or log off. It is necessary to have this ability because while doing certain actions on your PC such as when downloading files, it is imperative that your PC doesn't exit Windows suddenly. The application called ShutdownGuard uses this API to prevent shut down when some program calls for it.

  1. Download and install ShutdownGuard from this page. Pick the ShutdownGruard-<version>.exe file to get the one with installer. During the installation, check the option to Autostart and untick the option Hide Tray:Windows 10 shutdown guard setup
  2. Allow the installer to open ShutdownGuard or start it manually. It will place its icon in the notification area (system tray). The icon may also be hidden inside the overflow area. In that case, click the tiny arrow to show it.Windows 10 ShutdownGuard is running
  3. Right click the ShutdownGuard to access its settings. You can hide its tray icon (not recommended), disable it, or configure options such as Autostart.Windows 10 ShutdownGuard settings
  4. It has advanced settings in an INI file called C:\Program Files\ShutdownGuard\ShutdownGuard.ini. If you have User Account Control (UAC) set to the highest level, you may need to open this file as administrator to save changes to it. By editing the INI in Notepad or another text editor, you can customize the text message it shows when a shutdown is blocked, and some other options.Windows 10 ShutdownGuard ini file
  5. When ShutdownGuard is running and the tray icon is "locked", every time Windows, or some app or the user attempts a restart or shutdown, the following message will be shown by Windows:
    Windows 10 ShutdownGuard in action
    You can click here "Shut down anyway" or "Restart anyway" to continue shutting down. However, this will forcibly terminate all apps. This screen will show you all running applications. If you have unsaved work, you can click Cancel which will take you back to the Desktop. There you can close apps properly, save your work and then safely continue with the Shutdown.
  6. To allow a shut down, just left click once on the ShutdownGuard icon in the notification area so it "unlocks" shut down. Now when you try manual shut down/restart or log off or when some app attempts it, it won't be blocked.Windows 10 ShutdownGuard disabled

That's it. Now you can know how to avoid most of those unexpected and untimely reboots in Windows 10.

It is important to note that ShutdownGuard is not 100% foolproof. Windows or apps still have the ability to override it if they force the shutdown. 

ShutdownGuard just gives you an opportunity to save your work in open windows and avoid unexpected restarts which are automatically initiated by installers or apps.

ShutdownGuard is made by Stefan Sundin. It is a free app but accepts donations.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

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