“Have You Tried Turning It Off and On?”
Updated: Jul 24, 2022
There’s one solution to tech problems that everyone knows: turning the device
off and then back on again. This go-to move is a bit of a joke in the IT industry.
Who needs help-desk support if you can find a power switch? Surprisingly, this
approach actually does solve a lot of problems.
Rebooting your computer clears the memory, stopping any tasks or applications
that are consuming memory. Even if you close out an app, it could still be
running in the background. A reboot can also fix peripheral and hardware issues.
Follow these simple steps to reboot your computer:
Windows 10 and Windows 11 (Remember to save your work before proceeding)
Click on the Start Menu
Look for and click on the Power button icon
Choose Restart or Shutdown
Mac OS (Remember to save your work before proceeding)
Click on the Apple logo on the top left of the screen in the menu bar
Click on Restart or Shutdown
Sometimes systems will lock up, or an application will freeze, and you can’t do
anything except stare at that annoying little icon indicating the computer is
stuck. If it’s a stuck application, you can try “Force Quit” (CTL + ALT + Delete in
Windows, or Option, Command, and Esc on a Mac). But if that doesn’t work, you
may have to force a shutdown. On a Mac you can do this by pressing Command
+ Control + Option + Power button. On a PC you can hold down the power
button for as long as needed for the computer to shut off.
Don’t worry, modern computers are designed to endure unexpected shutdowns.
However, it’s definitely safer to use the power button than to pull the plug from
the electrical outlet.
When you have issues with internet or network connectivity, powering off your
computer may again be the solution. By turning the computer off, you reset its
connections to the router, server, or even ISP. This ensures the appropriate
information to get online is being communicated back and forth. That doesn’t
work? Try powering off the router or modem. The same explanation applies,
only now you’re resetting the connection from the other side.
A Couple of Cautions
Before powering off the device, if possible, save documents and close open
windows. Unexpectedly turning off a computer may cause data corruption in any
files you had open. Make sure that you’re not devastated by a computer freezing
up by remembering to save regularly. It is also worth making multiple,
incremental copies of your work as you make your way through it. For example,
File v1.doc, File v2.doc, etc. You can do this using the “Save As” function.
Keep in mind that when turning something off and on again as a quick fix, you
don’t want to go too quickly. Keep the device powered off for 5–10 seconds. This
will give it the necessary time to reset.
Also, you probably want to avoid turning your computer off and on many times
in a day. If you use the device a lot throughout the day, leave it on. Turning the
computer on repeatedly can stress the device, especially older computers.
Likewise, leaving it on all the time can take a toll, too (and adds to your electricity
bill). Really, whether you shut down at the end of the day or after use is going to
depend on how you use the computer and how often.
Nevertheless, restarting a computer or any device remains a good way to get it
back to the way it was. This time-honored self-service solution isn’t going to do the trick every time, though. Some issues will remain after a reboot, such as a
virus infection. Or there could be a hardware issue that needs fixed.