So you broke your laptop and without fail, the first question your IT tech asks is “did you turn it off and on again?” Why is that?
Restarting your laptop cleans your operating system’s slate and starts over from scratch. Think of it kind of like taking out the trash. You’ll get better performance after your restart, and turning your laptop on and off again fixes problems like RAM problems, incomplete updates or installation, and overheating.
Your typical tech support person is going to ask you if you restarted your laptop before they ask you anything else. But how helpful is simply asking this question? What’s the idea behind it. And your laptop isn’t the only device that you can restart to get it working it again. This also works for cell phones, routers, televisions, and more.
Before we try to figure out why tech people ask if you have restarted your laptop, let’s explore what processes are running while your laptop is in use. When you use your device, you’re basically opening different applications, using these programs to complete certain tasks, and then closing them.
When you’re using these different programs, they’re stored in your laptop’s RAM – Random Access Memory. This memory is volatile which means it is expendable. But eventually, your OS is going to reach its limit and problems will ensure. This includes frozen apps, crashes, slow performance, overheating and more.
As your laptop runs, all of the programs and processes running in the background leave their mark – debris that needs to be cleaned. Sometimes the programs don’t fully close and you can’t open them again. Yet when you turn your laptop on and off again, things are like brand new.
When your laptop experiences hardware or driver problems, restarting can be useful too. You might see the jarring BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) and an error code. This is a classic STOP error – the screen will pop up when Windows can’t figure out how to solve the problem. In these cases, simply restarting your laptop can help too.
Basically, when you restart your laptop, the current messy state of all of your open software gets dumped. This is extra true for web browsers. Over time, Chrome will begin to eat more and more memory, getting slower and larger like some kind of internet monster. Close it and restart it, and the memory leakage will be fixed.
Another thing to remember is that restarts are common for updates and installs which are related to vital parts of your system and these restarts can cause problems. That’s why Windows doesn’t require a restart for updating its data anymore. You can stop a program from loading up at startup straight from the task manager.
If you have a Linux, you’re in luck – updates don’t require a restart, except if it’s really important like a kernel upgrade. What’s going on behind the curtain here? Processes are using important files, and a newer process will start to use the replaced files. After you restart your laptop, the processes that were using the older files begin to use the newer files that the update changed.
Essentially, restarting laptops is going the way of the dodo as operating systems and applications exponentially evolve. But just trying to turn your laptop off and on again isn’t a big deal and it’s worth a shot.
So next time you wander into the laptop repair shop and they ask you if you have turned your computer off and on again, don’t get annoyed or think they are just humoring you. There is real logic behind this question and restarting your laptop is a good first troubleshooting move. If restarting your laptop doesn’t work, you might have a more serious problem on your hands, like hard disk failure, lack of sufficient RAM, or a busted cooling fan. Some of these problems you can fix on your own, but other problems are best left to professionals. It’s a good idea to check out a repair store for some free tests to see what the issue is, then go home and figure out if this is something you can tackle yourself. These diagnostic tests cost nothing, so you’ve got nothing to lose. Just make sure you restart your laptop before you head to a technician to ask about fixing it.