With a red face and simmering emotions, you pick up the phone and call your trusted computer professional because your PC once again has chosen to make your life extremely difficult.
For the last half hour, you’ve tried everything you know to cajole the irritating pile of assembled electronic components to cooperate with you. But to no avail.
The calm voice on the other end of the line greets you and asks about your problem. After unleashing a flurry of frustration about how your computer has completely ruined your day, you hear four words that cause you to roll your eyes and make you want to scream:
“Have you tried rebooting?”
“What?” a voice shouts inside your head. “Seriously? I’m calling you for help and the first thing out of your mouth is ‘reboot’? What kind of computer genius are you?”
Why it works
Believe it or not, rebooting fixes a myriad of problems.
It works for almost anything electronic that’s behaving badly – desktops, laptops, cell phones, tablets, and routers.
We often forget to try the simplest, most basic troubleshooting step because we get caught up in the problem. Our minds immediately think solving it always requires a trained professional’s intervention.
Rebooting restores the misbehaving gadget to a clean slate, which is why it works most of the time. It gives the device a fresh start. It’s akin to your going to bed at night utterly exhausted, then waking up the next morning completely refreshed.
What it can fix
A slow computer.
Your PC can slow to a crawl for a variety of reasons. Some causes can be cleared up by a quick reboot.
Your computer’s memory – also known as RAM – is constantly processing lots of tasks and information. It provides short-term storage for frequently used programs and processes.
Sometimes it gets overwhelmed, which causes your PC to slow down. Rebooting flushes everything from the RAM, allowing your computer to run faster.
A locked up or slow program
Your Windows operating system and every program you use – like Microsoft Word and Google Chrome – is made up of code, or instructions, that tell your computer what to do and how to do it.
Occasionally, something interrupts the processing of those instructions. Or they develop what’s known as a memory leak, a condition where the program keeps hogging memory that it’s not using.
This can cause slowness and even error messages. Again, a quick reboot can clear up these conditions.
Network or Internet problems
Do your wireless devices have problems pulling up websites or communicating with your printer? Does your Internet speed seem as slow as dial-up?
Simply unplugging and plugging back in your modem and router will often restore the speed and connectivity issues.
What if it doesn’t fix it?
A reboot will not fix all your computer problems.
Failing hardware and virus/malware infections are just two examples of things a reboot won’t resolve.
By rebooting first, you’ve at least attempted the easiest fix for common annoyances. And when the IT person on the phone tells you to reboot your device, you can proudly say, “I’ve already done that!”