How to Reboot Your Computer

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How to Reboot Your Computer

Computers are designed to be reliable machines, although there are times that they fail.  A reboot is often the only way to get your computer up and running again if it hangs, or if it fails at a set of system processes.  Here are some things you should know about rebooting your computer.

When To Reboot

The boot sequence is a series of steps that prepares your computer to start loading the operating system.  The boot sequence begins by turning on the power, loading core processes, and starts the operating system.  Under normal operation, you don’t have to go through the boot sequence over again because most operating systems and programs are very stable.  You do need to reboot your computer if:

  • Failure of system processes. There are times that some important system processes fail, and you need to restart the computer to get it working again.  The Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) or other warning messages on the screen.
  • Speeding things up. Some memory-intensive programs may consume too much of the memory allocations that a refresh wouldn’t be enough to recover enough memory to run the program.
  • New installs. Some programs or new hardware may request a restart after the program or driver has been installed.

Soft Reboot

A soft reboot, also called a warm boot, is typically used to terminate system processes or programs that have caused the computer to hang or stall.  Soft reboots are less stressful on your computer’s moving parts (like the hard disk drive’s platters).  The soft reboot is also useful if you want to perform a reboot sequence faster.  A soft reboot is always initiated by the user.

To perform a soft reboot, press the Ctrl, Alt, and Delete keys simultaneously.  You usually need to do this only once, although you may need to press these keys repeatedly until the reboot sequence succeeds.

Hard Reboot

In some cases, your system undergoes a power interruption, or you need to force the boot sequence right down to the power source.  Hard reboots, also called cold booting, begins the boot sequence from the power component.  Hard reboots are more stressful to your computer’s moving parts and electrical circuits.

There are three ways to perform a hard reboot:

  • Pressing the reset switch.
  • Pressing the on/off switch on the automatic voltage regulator (AVR) or the uninterrupted power supply (UPS).
  • Power surges and interruptions that shut down computers not connected to surge protectors or a UPS unit.

Keep in mind that rebooting your computer will leave your hard drive in a messy state.  To ensure the integrity of your files, make sure to run a disk-scanning utility and a disk defragmenter every now and then if you reboot a lot.  If you find yourself rebooting more often than needed, you need to have your computer checked by a qualified technician.