When and Why You Should Restart Your Computer
Have you ever called IT support, just to have them ask, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”
While restarting your computer is usually your first approach to fixing technical issues, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
So, how do you know when it’s time to give your computer a jump vs calling up a pro?
We’re breaking down the when and why of restarting your computer so you don’t waste precious time, data, or money when troubleshooting computer issues.
When Should You Restart Your Computer?
Before you ring up the pros, it’s best to know which situations warrant restarting your computer.
In some cases, your computer may even let you know that it’s time to restart – such as when there is a scheduled update or when you are installing new software. Other times, it may just be when you are at a loss as to how to fix your computer glitching out.
You should restart your computer if:
- It freezes up unexpectedly. When your computer freezes up, you may not be able to move your cursor or troubleshoot things on your screen. Your best bet is to restart your computer to see if you gain controls again.
- If it says “not responding”: If your computer shows a “not responding” notification, and you’re not able to click the on-screen start menu to restart it, you can shut it off by holding the power button until it shut down, then pressing the power button again to turn it on.
- The internet speed is lagging. Sometimes when your internet lags, your computer itself is the issue. If you have already tested the connection, it may be worth it to restart your computer and try again.
- There’s a software update. If a software update prompts you to restart your computer, do it to ensure that things update correctly.
- You’re installing new software or hardware. The instructions of the software or hardware will let you know if a restart is required after installation.
- There’s a driver or hardware error. Restarting your computer during these cases may work out the kinks if there is a driver or hardware issue. Feel free to contact an IT professional if you aren’t sure.
- If your computer is running slow. Slow computer speed may be due to a wide variety of issues. Before you fork over money to a pro to assess your computer, try restarting your computer to see if that helps.
- If your computer is acting “weird”. Like above, this could be due to a variety of issues. Restart your computer – and then if things are still acting weird, contact IT support.
If you aren’t sure what the issue is ( and if your computer hasn’t prompted to restart), it’s always best to give a professional a call.
They may suggest that you restart your computer, or they may identify that it could be another issue. Heed their advice to help prevent further issues.
Why is Restarting Your Computer Beneficial?
Restarting your computer – a simple solution to a complex issue? Sometimes.
Giving your computer a little restart can fix more issues than you can imagine, though it’s not always the answer. Below are some of the benefits of restarting your computer – just know that restarting your computer is not a foolproof solution. Later we’ll talk about when it may be time to hire a pro.
Benefits of Restarting Your Computer
- Prevents Memory Leaks: When a program doesn’t close correctly, your computer loses memory. This happens because programs use your computer’s RAM and then returns it when you close the program. If the program glitches out, it’s unable to return the memory, leading to a memory leak. Restarting your computer can help prevent this.
- Fixes Bugs: Has your computer been a little slow? It may be time for a restart. Going too long without restarting your computer makes it susceptible to bugs and glitches. This leads to slower computer speed, freeze-ups, and more. Restart your computer to prevent your computer from getting overworked.
- Speeds Up Internet Connection: If your computer isn’t connecting to the internet, it could be the internet itself. However, often it just takes a simple reboot to reset the connection. If the issues still persist, you may need to restart your router.
- Saves Time: Save time and money by restarting your computer before hiring a professional. If computer speed, bugs, and freezes are still an issue, contact an IT specialist for help.
- Clears RAM/Memory: RAM is your computer’s main type of memory and it is very important. It’s often referred to as “volatile” memory because it is sensitive and constantly in flux. Restart your computer to get rid of all of the temporary and useless data that is slowing your computer down.
Restarting your computer can fix a host of issues, but if things are still acting up (or not at all), it may be time to reach out to an IT support professional.
When Should You Reach Out to IT Support?
Sometimes “turning it off and on again” doesn’t work. That’s because computers are complex and can be prone to a lot of different issues, bugs, hacks, and more. If restarting your computer doesn’t fix the problem, it’s time to turn to a professional.
First, if you restart your computer and the issue is still persistent, that can be a sign that there’s another underlying issue.
Second, if you find that you are restarting your computer consistently because of the same issue (or several), it could mean that your computer as something else going on.
Take note of how your computer is performing, whether any warning signs are popping up, and what actions you have tried already. Then, call an IT support specialist to assess what’s going on. They may be able to help you troubleshoot the issue over the phone, or may ask that you bring your computer to their office for assessment.
Other Recommendations for Preventing Computer Issues
- Delete old or unused files off of your computer.
- Save all of your important files on your computer or via the cloud, then log out of programs when not in use.
- Uninstall programs that you aren’t using and are just taking up space on your computer.
- Allow your computer to update when it needs to. You will usually be prompted to update programs via a notification or email.
- Lock your computer when you step away, for security purposes.
- Allow your computer to get software updates when you are away by not turning your computer off every time.
- Restart your computer on a regular basis for better performance.