Laptop/Computer Restart: How Long Does It Take on Average?

Here’s how long it takes to restart a laptop or computer on average:

A true average is hard to define because computers are so varied in their performance. 

Your software, hardware, computer age, and more can all make restart times slower or faster, comparatively. 

A new, high-end computer can usually restart in under a minute, while an old computer might take 15 minutes.

If you want to learn all about how long it should take to restart a computer, then this article is for you.

Let’s get started!

Laptop/Computer Restart: How Long Does It Take on Average?

What Is Involved in a Restart of a Computer?

Why are restart times so varied? It boils down to the fact that computers do a lot of work to shut down and startup. 

Word restart inscribed on gold keyboard

Depending on your hardware and software, that work can be done relatively quickly or relatively slowly, and that is why a simple average isn’t very meaningful.

Shutting Down a Computer

When a computer shuts down, it has to go through a lot of protocols. It has to save a state for every active application when you choose to shut it down. From there, it has to kill tasks, clear temporary folders, and go through a ton of safety checks to make sure everything can shut down without causing harm.

Hand turning off the power of laptop

Once upon a time, these processes took minutes. With modern computers, they are a lot faster, but they still depend heavily on the build of your computer. 

For the most part, you can expect shutdown to take anywhere from 10 seconds to 2 minutes. Hardware, software versions, and the health of the computer will all impact this time.

Booting up a Computer

When the computer starts up, it has to do a lot of work. It starts with POST (which can be skipped with some restart cycles). This is a simple test that makes sure essential hardware is working.

After POST, the computer will pass by the BIOS interface. This is where you can press a key to interact with the basic input and output settings of the computer. This is not a feature on Apple devices.

Computer loading data

Once you get through the BIOS screen, your operating system begins to load. This is where it goes through the list of kernels (and a ton of other procedures). Kernels are the essentials of software that allow everything to work. 

Only after the primary kernels have been loaded can you actually get into an operating system and use it. From there, the visuals and controllers have to load so you can see things on your screen and control your mouse and keyboard in order to interact with it all.

With modern computers, you’re looking at anywhere from 15 seconds to 5 minutes to get through this process.

How Long Does it Take to Restart a Mac?

We’ll get into Macs before PCs because they’re a little simpler. Apple controls the hardware and software in every Mac build, and it makes for a lot more consistency. 

Creative woman working with computer in the office

Unless your Mac is older than five years, you can expect a full restart to take 30 to 45 seconds. If you have a lot of startup software, it can go a little longer, but Macs often restart in under a minute. There are a few reasons for this.

PCIe Hard Drives

Modern Mac computers all use flash hard drive storage. In the vast majority of cases, the hard drives connect via a PCIe slot on the logic board. What does all of that mean, and why does it matter?

The hard drive stores all of the information on a computer. In order to load an operating system, the computer has to access that information on the hard drive. 

Different SSD M2 disk drive

Older, traditional hard drives were made with rotating discs. The disc on the hard drive would spin, and a magnetic read/write head would interact with the tiny magnets on the hard drive in order to read or change the stored information. Without getting deep into the process, these hard drives can only process information as fast as the disc can spin.

Newer hard drives are referred to as solid-state drives. What that means is that there are no physically moving parts on the drive. Instead of spinning a disc full of information, the hard drives have microscopic circuits built throughout. 

In order for a computer to interact with the magnetic storage, they send an electrical signal through those tiny circuits. The bottom line is that these hard drives can move information much, much faster.

Woman holding fast NVME ssd disk drive

Macs converted to PCIe hard drives in 2013. Since then, virtually all models have made this change. A PCIe hard drive is a solid-state drive, and it offers something special. 

The PCIe connection is able to transfer information much faster than older connection types. Because of this, PCIe hard drives are considerably faster than solid-state drives that use a slower connection.

Because of all of this, modern Macs restart very quickly. Any Mac that is less than five years old should restart in 30 seconds to a minute unless something is misbehaving.

Older Models

If you do have an older model that doesn’t use PCIe storage, things slow down considerably. With a slower hard drive comes slower boot times. On top of that, older software versions were less efficient. You also have the risk that a computer of that age is seeing deterioration among multiple components.

Vintage Personal computer from 1984

In all, the experience is completely different. If you have an older model that predates PCIe storage, then you can expect the average restart time to be over three minutes. If the computer has ailments, the time can spike considerably from there.

How Long Does it Take to Restart a PC?

Now that we’ve covered Macs, we can get into the realm of Windows machines, often called PCs. An average time for these devices is less meaningful because there is a lot more disparity among builds. 

Young app developer using

A high-end PC can restart in under 30 seconds. An older, lower-end machine can take many minutes to restart. It depends on many factors, so let’s go over the most important of those.

PCIe Hard Drives

We already covered how PCIe hard drives impact data speeds and boot-up times. This holds true for PCs as well, but there is one difference to note. There are still modern PCs that don’t use PCIe hard drives. 

Modern NVMe SSD M.2 drive packed in a factory box lies next to an ultrabook

They are considered mid-range to high-end components to put in a computer. If you have a budget-oriented PC, even if it is brand new, it likely won’t have a PCIe hard drive.

Still, to answer the original question, PCs with a PCIe hard drive can typically restart in around 30 seconds. It will depend on how much extra software has to run and the rest of the hardware in the computer, but 30 seconds is a safe ballpark.

Solid State Drives

Many PCs utilize solid-state drives that are not connected via PCIe slots. When that is the case, they will usually connect via a SATA cable. We can skip a lot of technical jargon and simplify the comparison. PCIe connections are roughly 10 times faster than SATA connections when it comes to hard drive performance.

SSD drives

A SATA solid-state drive will still be many times faster than a platter drive, but it’s anywhere from 5 to 10 times slower than a PCIe drive. Despite that difference, these drives will not restart 5 to 10 times slower than a PCIe drive. 

That’s because the restart process doesn’t hinge entirely on hard drive performance. There are certain delays built into the sequences to allow you a chance to give commands to a computer (more on this later). Because of these delays, SATA solid-state drives are still pretty fast.

You can expect your average restart time with these types of computers to sit between one and two minutes.

Platter Drives

Platter drives are considerably slower, and you will definitely notice it in restart times. We’ve covered the difference in technology and how this hard drive is many times slower than its solid-state counterparts.

Inside of hard disk drive

Because of this, you can expect the full restart time to be anywhere from three to five minutes for a healthy PC. 

As you’ll see in the following sections, there are things that can launch this time much higher.

Custom Builds vs. Premades

If you build a PC yourself, you are likely going to use a streamlined version of Windows that has very little extras when you first install it. The lack of extras means that you have fewer processes that have to run when you start up the computer. 

Technician's hand assembling personal computer

You will see a BIOS indicator, and there will be a short delay before Windows runs. This delay is programmed and not dependent on your hardware. It’s there, so you can select an alternative startup device or go into the BIOS controls if you desire. This is usually done by hitting a certain key (which depends on the manufacturer) before Windows starts to load.

If you get a prebuilt machine, things are different. We will use HP as an example, but all major computer companies will yield a similar experience. HP machines have proprietary software that is available at startup. 

This software can be used to select different boot options and even run a recovery environment that helps when the computer malfunctions. Because there are extra steps at boot up, and each has a deliberate delay, it will take longer to load an HP machine than a typical custom machine.

A young man chooses a laptop in an electronics store.

On top of that, HP has a ton of proprietary programs that run when Windows loads. As you wait for the operating system, each of these programs will go through an unseen process in order to be available as soon as Windows is up and running. Every single one of those processes adds to the startup sequence.

When you put it all together, you expect custom machines to be anywhere from 10 seconds to a whole minute faster at restarting.

Optional Software at Startup

It doesn’t end there. Aside from manufacturer software, you can add as much third-party software to a Windows build as you like. It’s still fairly common for people to install antivirus software on a PC. 

 Computer programmer man hand typing configuration on keyboard

That software runs a bunch of protocols every time you boot the machine. The same can be said for productivity software, game launching platforms, and just about anything else you install. They all vie for attention during startup, and they all increase your startup times.

If startup ever seems excessively slow, go into the Task Manager and look at the Startup tab. You’ll see every third-party item that automatically runs at startup, and you can turn some of them off to improve your restart time.

Windows Version

Windows versions make a big difference too. Windows 10 and up are considerably faster on reboots than older versions. This is because starting with Windows 10. 

The startup process is considerably more efficient. The software loads as much of the system as possible before you even get to the login screen. By the time you log in, most of the work for startup is finished (when things are working properly).

Desktop computer with touchscreen interface

With older versions of Windows, a large number of processes don’t begin until after you log into your account. These are things like establishing your internet connection—loading visual files for the graphical interface, and many more. 

The process is less efficient. So, even on two computers with identical hardware, the Windows 10 machine will boot much faster than the Windows 7 or 8 machine.

Updates

And, of course, there are updates. Windows runs updates when you choose to shut down or restart your computer. These updates require downloads, software installation, testing, and more. 

Dialog window showing download progress

The entire process usually takes a few minutes, but it depends on the update itself. Large updates can take upwards of 10 minutes to install.

Any time you have updates, you will not restart in under a minute.