Facing an issue on your computer? First advice from tech support would be – “Did you try rebooting it?”
This solution is engraved in our minds so deep down that it has become a instant reflex. Even a non-tech-savvy person would suggest you restarting computer.
Even though most of them don’t actually know what exactly happens but somehow it fixes the problem.
Let’s try to find out why does turning it off and on again work in most of the computer issues.
How does Restarting Fixes Everything Magically?
One big reason a restart will fix so many PC problems is because it will clear your Random Access Memory (RAM).
While you are working on computer, you open and close many programs. There were many logs and temporary caches created in the background process which you don’t know about.
You do not realize that the footprints are left behind by the background processes. These leftovers hogs the system resources and most of it is stored in RAM.
When the RAM cannot take anymore, it leads to memory leak which causes slow downs and various kind of errors.
Each and every program stops when you restart the computer; power cuts off and RAM gets cleared. This gives your system a clean slate and fresh start.
Restart deals with Low level Issues
Let’s take an example of common but a grave issue on Windows computers – Blue Screen of Death. Hardware malfunction usually causes BSOD. There comes a point where Windows system doesn’t know how to resolve a problem with hardware driver so it just halts.
Sudden closure of process leads to Blue screen on Windows.
At this point, there is no moving back. Only option you get is restart. Computer itself is suggesting to restart this time. It is asking a restart so that it can start the process again with a hope that it won’t encounter the same problem again.
Windows has been getting better with resolving the issues on its own. There are instances when complete restart of computer isn’t required but only the specific process.
A common example could be graphical issue. On Windows XP, computer would crash in case of graphics driver stop working. However, in Windows 8 or 10, you would notice losing of fancy graphics and animations for a second and getting back everything to normal.
What actually happened behind the scenes is restarting of the graphic process. With the restart, code was executed from square one and it would probably work fine this time.
Restart is not limited to Windows Computers
The magic of restart is applicable to most of the electronic devices like android phone, WiFi router or even the software running on Windows OS.
Most of the instruction manual will suggest rebooting or resetting the device to bring it to normal. Software programs, when kept open for a long time may start acting up. Closing and opening it again resolves the issue.
Common Problems when Restart Fixes the Problem
Windows is running Slow – Most of the computer users tend to close the lid and put Laptop to sleep. Computer isn’t shut down for days or weeks which often results in sluggish response. Computer needs nothing but clearing of unnecessary junk on system resources especially RAM.
Hence, restart is the quick and working solution in this case.
There are several other reasons for slow down and Restart doesn’t work in all cases. You can open Task manager and look out a process causing 100% RAM / CPU usage and kill it. This could also free up system resources and gain back lost speed.
Firefox browser not responding – Firefox will keep growing in size accumulating space on RAM memory when browsing for a long time. An instance will come when it will lead to memory leak and you won’t be able to work on it anymore.
Closing the application clears all the memory and opening it again gives a clean slate.
Here Firefox is just an example as the solution is applicable to almost any program being unresponsive over time.
Internet Connectivity Problems – WiFi router starts giving problems when connected to Internet for long time. Just unplugging its power socket and plugging it again resolved the connection immediately.
Sometimes, heating up of router could also be a problem so solution might not immediately and you will have to wait for cooling down.
In all the above scenarios, restart wipes the current state of working software. Any code malfunctioning in the process will be also cleaned out. Restarting gives a chance to begin the process from square one with a hope to avoid any error coming in the way.
Understanding Hard Reset and Soft Reset
Soft reset means simply restarting or rebooting the device normally. While Hard Reset means resetting the software to its default factory state.
In case of wireless router, you must long press the reset hole with pin to hard reset it.
Both the solutions have their applicability depending upon the severity of the problem. As described above, Soft reset fixes common and low level issues but Hard Reset is required to fix high level problems.
For example, if your computer just doesn’t startup normally, its critical software components are damaged. It usually happens when files on hard drive are corrupted or malware loading during startup is preventing the bootup.
One simply cannot look out for a corrupt file and clean up every trace of the malware. Resetting the software completely is easier and faster solution.
Frequent Restart is a Problem
Though I have mentioned several times that Restart is a solution to fix most of the problems, there could be a major problem underneath.
If your computer requires frequent restarts for normal working, it is a not a solution anymore. You must investigate the real cause instead of temporarily fixing it every-time by restarting.
To elaborate, computer might need changing of hard drive which has bad sectors on it or upgrade of RAM. Sometimes, software program also causes the problem which you can investigate using the Task Manager.
To Conclude, Restarting computer wipes of current state of the software which has become problematic and gives it a chance to start afresh with a hope of not encountering the same problem again.
Shawn is a WindowsChimp Staff writer, who is a fan of making lists and does the same on this site. He has a Contemporary Writing degree and been in technology niche since last 3 years.