“Have you tried turning it on and off again?”
Ah, that age-old IT phrase that almost everyone rolls their eyes at. Made infamous by the arguably accurate British TV show The IT Crowd.
Here’s the usual scenario:
You call up your IT department – or that friend who’s good with computers – about an issue you’re having with your machine. They ask you if you’ve tried restarting it and you wonder why you even bothered calling them.
But, hold on a minute! We promise that there is a real reason we ask this and we’re not just hoping for a quick solution.
Today, we reveal why IT experts ask: “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”
Rebooting is an effective troubleshooting technique.
Let’s say that you’re running a complex bit of software – and nowadays that’s pretty much any software.
When programmes run, they do a lot of behind-the-scenes business, like creating and reading files, using memory, accessing bits of hardware – the list goes on.
If this has been going on for several hours (often days) it can get in a state that will cause you problems.
Perhaps a program refuses to open, things start getting slow and your computer simply stops performing well?
A reboot means that every single program and process can start fresh as the power leaves your machine.
Well, almost. There are some files that remain so that you can pick up where you left off when you turn it back on again.
Restarting your computer – or any device – for that matter allows it to get its affairs in order and, in a lot of cases, you’ll find that it will perform better for you when you switch it back on.
This isn’t to say that turning it on and off again is some sort of magic trick. It isn’t guaranteed to work every time and you shouldn’t fully rely on it.
If you’re continuously having to reboot your laptop, there may be an underlying issue. This could include a failing piece of hardware, corrupt files or a virus.
When this occurs, you should speak to a professional so that they can pinpoint what the problem is and prevent you losing important files and applications in the future.
So does turning it on and off again work for all devices?
A lot of our everyday items are now computers; from your TV to your phone and even your home thermostat.
In the same way as a laptop or desktop computer, unplugging a device and plugging it back in again could help you to troubleshoot problems.
Again, you should keep an eye out for recurring problems with these devices as it might be a more serious issue.