Why does restarting my computer seem to solve a lot of problems?

You may have noticed that when the operating system in any of your gadgets does not work properly, the first thing you think about is restarting the device. We explain why it seems that this simple action solves everything.

It seems that everyone knows very well that the first step to solving almost any problem with the computer is to restart it. It is also the first piece of advice given to someone who explains that their computer is acting the wrong way. But, Have you ever wondered why this seems to be the solution to many problems?

The most interesting thing is that the restart process not only solves problems on Windows computers, but also with other types of devices and operating systems. How many times have you not rebooted a tablet or smartphone, perhaps the router and modem, and even the browser when it was consuming too much memory?

Some problems need a reboot

It is as simple as this: some problems (both computer and human) require a reboot. To better understand this, we can take as an example the Windows blue screens of death that are usually caused by errors such as a driver that is giving problems, or some part of the hardware that is malfunctioning. When Windows reaches a point where it doesn’t know how to recover, it displays the familiar blue screen, tries to gather information about it, and usually reboots itself. When the operating system starts working again, the blue screen is gone.

In Windows there are other ways to restart that do not involve shutting down the operating system completely, but only part of it. For example, from Windows Vista to Windows 8.1, when there is a problem with the graphics drivers, the desktop may look strange, like a very old monitor that is not in high definition. This is because Windows is resetting the drivers in the background to get them working properly again.

It might seem that it makes more sense for Windows to fix the problem instead of having to restart a driver or the entire operating system, but unfortunately in many cases it cannot because, almost always, the problem that appeared caused that a process will stop working completely and there is no way to continue. Therefore, restarting will start with a clean slate, and hopefully the same problem will not happen again.

It is the same in the case of all electronic devices, a reboot or reset of the system is responsible for cleaning any pending errors and returning everything to normal or to its initial state, in a controlled manner. Upon restart, the code can be run from scratch. If something fails critically you will need close to return to its original state error free, at the next start.

Photo by: patrick h. in the field

Common Cases Where Restarting Solves Problems

  • The operating system is very slow. Whether you are using Windows or any other operating system, you may have encountered a common problem: the computer is running very slow when normally it is not. This can happen because some program is using too much memory, so it could be solved by using Task Manager (or Activity Monitor, if you’re on OS X) to look and try to figure out what the bug is. But the simplest and easiest solution for both a novice and an experienced user is to restart the computer.
  • The browser is stealing all memory. This is a common problem that can also be solved with a reboot. Fortunately, you can only restart the browser instead of the entire operating system, which is a time saver. This tactic can also be applied to any other program that is bothering you.
  • Internet problems. Internet connection problems are one of the most annoying because you have to rule out many things before you know what is going on. So, the best thing in these cases is to reboot the modem and the router to begin with. You can also restart your computer in the process.