You’ve been working diligently. You’re in the zone. Suddenly, your computer grinds to a halt and you are left with a non-responsive operating system. Your mouse and keyboard are useless, and from your speakers erupts a funny, skipping sound where once music emerged.
Frantically you call IT support in search of the quickest, easiest and most effective fix available. And then they say it…
“Have you rebooted your computer?”
You’re not sure why, but you are annoyed. After all, what the heck do you pay IT for anyway? Rebooting is not fixing. Rebooting is not diagnosing. Rebooting is not a new idea! You’re right, it’s none of these things. But, it just so happens, more often than not, it works.
You see, IT troubleshooting begins with the reboot. Why? Because over half of the technical issues we see here at VanTech require nothing more than a reboot to fix and prevent from happening again. Why is that? Because most technical and performance issues are caused a lack of system resources (RAM, CPU), conflicts where one program or process interrupts another program or process, or problems were a vital piece of hardware stops working. All of which are easily fixable with a simple reboot.
This does not only apply to Windows PCs. Other devices that may encounter critical errors and need reboots are Mac desktops and laptops, Android and IOS phones, wireless routers, switches, firewalls and servers. Even applications sometimes need a reboot to work properly, as we saw in the past with the Firefox browser for both Windows and Mac. Firefox tended to use up more and more available RAM over time until there was no RAM left. The only way to cure it was to restart it.
If the above is true, why does suggesting a reboot make people so unhappy (especially here in New Jersey where you’re liable to get bonked on the head for the mere thought of the suggestion)? We've come up with some possible explanations:
The simplest answer to this question is that the operating system of your device gets to a point where it cannot recover on its own. It needs a fresh start. Think of it this way: Image you are playing the piano. In the first scenario, you are playing a difficult piece of music when all of a sudden you hit a wrong note. It lasts for no more than a half second. Although there has been an interruption in the flow of musical notes, you are able to easily recover from this error and finish the piece. To most people, this error was imperceptible and did not detract from the integrity of the piece. Small errors and interruptions like this happen all the time on your computer and your computer takes them in stride.
Now image you are playing the piano, and as you progress through the piece the phone rings, you forget the next section of music, and have to stop playing. For some reason, this music you have played so many times before seems foreign to you. After a good five minutes, you remember the chord structure and melody and feel silly for forgetting it. At this point, do you continue where you left off five minutes ago, or do you start over? After such a large interruption it makes more sense to restart. There is no way to regain the continuity of the performance without starting from the beginning. Same with computers.
Depending on a large variety of factors, your device might run into such a big problem that the only recourse is to restart. After a restart, the code can begin again, hopefully without running into the same problem again.
Finally, rebooting is usually the easiest and fastest option for restoring hardware functionality. Most of the time it doesn’t matter what caused the issue because of the time and expense required to find out. If, however, after a reboot the problem happens again, then it is time to dig deep and use more advanced troubleshooting techniques.
When time and money are on the line, it doesn’t matter what’s causing an issue it if only happens once. You need to get back to work, and a reboot is the shortest and most effective path. So, next time your computer freezes up and stops working, give a reboot and see what happens. You will be able to fix more than half of your computer issues all by yourself.
And if the problem persists, reach out to VanTech.