It’s a tale as old as time: your computer stops working. You call your friendly IT technician here at Portland Internetworks. They tell you to turn your device off and then back on. You do as you’re told and, just like that, your computer starts working again. Reboots truly are, surprisingly, an effective strategy when it comes to troubleshooting both hardware and software issues affecting your computer.

Rebooting your computer is sort of like a stadium closing up after a big sporting event. All of the trash and grime left by spectators gets swept up and removed, so that it’s ready for the next event. The same sort of thing is happening to our computers when we reboot them. Rebooting (or, power cycling) allows an opportunity for all of the unnecessary data that could be dragging down the functionality to be flushed out. Once your device has the opportunity to power cycle, it wakes up rejuvenated and ready to go. Rebooting your computer can actually help it to run faster.

We’re not saying that power cycling is going to solve every one of your (computer) problems, but it is a great place to start. If your computer loses its connection to the internet, or your internet connection is much slower than you’re used to, try rebooting your computer (in addition to rebooting your modem). Your computer can also be afflicted with a bug of some sort; rebooting allows the system to deal with the bug and sort itself out.

Another common scenario is that one program is starting to malfunction and gradually starts to take up more and more memory, causing your computer to slow down. Rebooting will force your computer to give up this memory being used, it will start from a clean slate once it turns back on.

While it’s good to know when to turn off your computer, it’s also worthwhile to mention that you don’t always need to turn it off. When you are done with work for the day, there’s no need to shut your computer off entirely. Instead, you can switch it over to sleep mode. Engaging sleep mode is ideal for any situations in which you will be away from your computer for two hours or more.

We know that reboots aren’t a catch-all solution, but it’s a good place to start if you’ve encountered an issue. As always, if you are having any kind of computer trouble, we’re just a phone call (or email or click) away.