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How does a restart help with my computer issue?

Have you tried turning it off and on again? Now you may have heard that phrase before, may be many times, for many different issues. In my experience about 80% of the computer issues are fixed with a restart.

This solution is applicable for a wide range of devices including routers, smartphones, portable devices and even software.

Let’s say your computer started working slowly all of a sudden and you don’t know why.  You are not doing anything differently, working as usual but the machine is just so slow. One of the causes for a slow operating device is memory leakage. Perhaps one of the programs running on your computer is malfunctioning and not giving back the unused memory and causing memory leaks. A simple restart will prompt the software to start from beginning before it encountered the problem with the leakage. With further investigation you will be able to determine the cause but a restart is always a good troubleshooting step.

One of your programs hanged or keeps freezing and not responding. You can restart the program by closing and re-opening. That might fix the problem but keep in mind that some programs will need their respective services in Windows to be restarted as well. So if you are not quite comfortable restarting a service you can always restart the whole computer. The program and its services will be refreshed and will load up before they encountered an error.

Blue screen of death, scary as it sounds, it is sometimes fixable by a restart. The blue screen is usually caused by a low-level error, a problem with a hardware driver or a hardware malfunction. Windows reaches a state where it doesn’t know how to recover, so it halts, shows a blue-screen of death, gathers information and restarts the computer for you. This restart fixes the blue screen of death.

Newer versions of Windows are better at dealing with errors. For example, if your graphics driver crashes in Windows Vista and newer versions the Windows desktop will lose its fancy graphical effects for a few moments before regaining them. Behind the scenes, Windows is restarting the malfunctioning graphics driver. Windows XP would have frozen and a full restart will be required.

The computer has reached a state where it can’t repair itself because the code has encountered a problem and stopped working completely. There is no way for the code to continue without a restart. The code can start from square one and hopefully it won’t encounter the same problem again.

Some issues just require a restart. Computers are finite state machines that constantly need to monitor for events and respond accordingly. They operate on an infinite processing loop to stay alert for new events, even when idle. Events can be anything from plugging in a mouse to loading a program to shutting down. Each event leads to a change of state.

One reason for a reboot is that, depending on your operating system, the infinite loop can’t be modified while it’s already running. That’s why driver installations and Windows Updates often require a system reboot – to change the way the operating system works at the most basic level.

If an error affects this infinite processing loop, only a reboot can set it back to its known state, from where it will work again.

Hope this helps!