“Did you try rebooting your computer?”
Let’s face it, this perhaps is the most annoying question to hear when something is non-functional on your computer, and you just want to get back to work.
After all, can something as simple as a ‘shut down and restart’ actually fix your issue, which has completely disrupted your day and halted your progress?
The short answer is YES. And usually the first thing we have to ask to get to the quickest resolution to the issue.
The more compelling question, of course, is WHY does a reboot fix the more common issues?
Well, let’s imagine that you were trying to complete 10 tasks all at once – a challenging thing to do at the best of times. Now, imagine that you were trying to do all of those tasks after being awake for 24 hours. You would most probably find that one of those 10 tasks don’t get completed as well as the others, or you might forget a part of a task as you try to complete the other 9, or you might just get stuck on one tasks and completely freeze up to the point where you cannot complete any task at all.
True, computers were designed to be better and faster than humans when it comes to processing tasks, but if you were to multiply those 10 tasks by 100 and those ‘sleepless’ hours by days - or in the case of some users, weeks - it’s not surprising that the OS of your computer may hiccup or glitch.
Usually when a computer is rebooted it runs a diagnostic on itself, which automatically fixes minor errors. It also allows the system to return to its original state…a blank sheet if you will. In this familiar state a computer will be able to know how to return to its ‘happy place’ before the glitch or hiccup happened.
Some other important things that happen during a reboot:
FLUSH THE RAM
Essentially the workhorse of a computer system; Random Active Memory is constantly working in a computer: running processes, saving data, updating applications, retrieving files. And all the while not letting go of any information it has gathered along the way. By rebooting the computer, you flush out all that unnecessary memory and allow the RAM to have a fresh start, making is much faster and more efficient
STOPS MEMORY LEAKS
Whenever a program is opened, whether it is being actively used or just sitting idle, it starts to use up computer memory. Usually, when a program is closed the memory usage is returned back to the memory pool – but not always. Any program that is outdated, glitchy, or even overused might not return that memory as it should thereby putting extra pressure on an already tired system. Usually the result of this is a ‘computer freeze’. Rebooting returns all that memory back to the computer and prevents future leaks.
Every piece of software receives updates on a regular and constant basis, often without our even knowing. Updates are released by software developers to fix bugs, create patches, and generally improve functionality. A reboot will allow an update to complete installing and fix whatever problem or update whatever version it was meant to; in that way preventing future issues that might pop-up without the installed update.
Most importantly, a reboot is a highly effective troubleshooting tool. If a reboot doesn’t fix the issue, then we know something more serious than a ‘glitch’ is going on, and we can start to get stuck in to finding the solution.
So to save yourself time, effort – and let’s be honest, money – we suggest trying the good ol ‘reboot’ before giving your IT support a call. You might find that the 5 minutes it takes to reboot, saves you half an hour or more on a support call only to discover that a reboot would have solved the problem in the first place.