Why does a reboot solve so many problems?

As an unthreatened number-one proposal when it comes to solving technology problems, there is the classic “test to restart”. But why does a reboot really solve any problems and what happens when a computer or phone restarts?

There is an old saying that a reboot solves 90 percent of all computer problems. Although the percentage probably has no actual basis, there is good evidence that a restart actually has the potential to solve many problems. So what happens when, for example, a computer or telephone restarts?

What happens to a computer when a problem occurs?

Depending on the type of problem that actually occurs, the cause behind it may look a little different. In a computer, for example, a number of different processes are constantly going on. Apart from the actual visible ones, such as the programs you use and the files you work with, there are also a plethora of background processes that are constantly spinning in the computer. The longer a computer is used, the more of these processes open and close.

Probably the most common reason why a computer gets tough or programs do not start etc. has to do with the fact that some of the underlying processes that run a program, a game or some other software do not always disappear completely when the programs end. Instead, some of them remain in the computer’s internal memory (RAM memory). Which is the memory used to handle what your computer is doing right now. This phenomenon is called in technical contexts for memory leakage (Memory leak).

RAM - Internal Memory - Computer - Memory Leak
The computer’s internal memory (RAM) stores the programs and processes the computer is currently working on. RAM stands for Random Access Memory and is not only a storage media but also a really nice Daft Punk disc (Random Access Memories).

After a period of use (and depending on what is actually done on the computer) this can result in RAM filled with far too much unnecessary information. Both from programs that (for some reason) have not been terminated correctly or are so poorly optimized that data remains in memory after the programs have been shut down. RAM simply becomes full of unnecessary information.

This in turn can create a lot of annoying problems. Everything from a general toughness in most things that are done on the computer to programs not starting, error messages appearing or even total freezes.

Apart from memory leakage, another cause of common computer problems is that the code behind a particular process for some reason cannot be completed. Simplified, perhaps the graphics card in the computer expects to get a “zero” of a program. Instead, for some reason a “one” is sent. This means that the computer no longer has a clue about what to do. At best, it manages to restart the process itself and run the code again. In the worst case, nothing happens at all or the computer stops completely and shows one Blue Screen. The computer can also behave generally strangely when problems like these arise. Simply because it does not really know what to do.

Why does a reboot (sometimes) solve these problems?

Well, when a computer is restarted, either by completely turning off the power to it or alternatively using the built-in reboot function, the power supply is disconnected to RAM for a short while. Something that makes it lose all its information. One RAM memory requires a continuous power supply to work (that’s why all your work disappears if you forget to save and the computer suddenly shuts down).

When the computer then starts up, it is with a completely clean internal memory, free from memory leakage and without half-started programs tucked in all the nooks and crannies. This is also the main reason why a reboot actually has the potential to solve so many problems. The same goes for Blue Screens and faulty codes where the computer simply gets the opportunity to run the crashing code again and hopes it works better this time.

Computer works after restart - Happy
The joy of a reboot solves all problems.

The principle is the same for other electronics. Whatever it is about one TV, telephone, car, washing machine, game console or anything electronic. All of these products now contain at least one small computer that could potentially get exactly the same error as a regular classic desktop computer.

There are also a number of other reasons why a computer or a phone, etc. actually becomes themselves or the like. But the common denominator when it comes to exactly why a reboot solves problems is simply because everything that the computer is currently working on is cleared and given an opportunity to restart after the reboot. Compare it to “clear your head from information” in any way. Something that usually makes it easier to solve any problems.

If you need to restart often, the problem is probably more serious

That you ever need to restart an e.g. a computer or telephone, after which a problem is fixed, is usually considered normal. Especially if you install many programs, change in system files or the like.

If, on the other hand, the same error occurs several times, it is probably something more serious that is the basis of the problem. Although a restart may be a temporary solution, in these cases it is usually good to try to arrive at a little more exactly what is actually causing the problem. Does it occur when a special program is started? When a certain hardware is connected? After a certain time? When the computer is working hard?

If it is just a computer, it is always good to start by doing a search for viruses and other nuisances (something that can be done for free). Uninstalling suspicious programs and freeing up disk space if it starts to creep down to zero is also a good way to try to make a tired computer work better. If all else fails, it is generally recommended to reinstall the entire operating system to reset any settings and changes that may be causing an error. This can be done on both computers (Windows, macOS) and mobile phones.

If none of the above problems arise, it can in the worst case also be the case that some part of the hardware is about to break. In that case, my recommendation is to take the faulty device to a repairer and ask them to take a look at it to see if the error can be resolved.

Do you always have to restart your entire computer to solve such problems?

No! Many times it happens that a program (for various reasons) fails to start. When this happens, it sometimes results in a small part of the program still being placed in the computer RAM memory. The computer thus believes that the program has already started. Alternatively still running and starting. Which means that it does not happen a bit when you try to start the program a second time.

By i Windows use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Alt + Delete and then select The activity manager you get the opportunity to see exactly what processes and programs the computer considers to be running. If you find the program that does not want to start in the list on the left side, then just select it and select End activity to completely turn off the missing variant of the program. After that, it is usually possible to start again.

Task Manager - Exit an application - RAMDo you use one Mac-computer is called the function to see which activities are running instead Activity control. You can access the function by clicking on the small search symbol (magnifying glass) at the top right of the screen and typing Activity control. Locate the program that does not want to start in the list below Process name. Select the program and click the cross in the upper left of the program window to exit it. Then try to start the program again.

If there were any questions or concerns based on the text, you are of course welcome to share them in the comments!

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