Why IT Troubleshooting Almost Always Starts With A Reboot.

When was the last time you rebooted your computer? For most, the answer is “I don’t know”. It is overwhelmingly common for people to put their devices to sleep or just lock the screen when they are done working for the day. What you might not know is that rebooting your computer regularly could prevent damage to the device as well as eliminate future downtime. Downtime that usually comes at the worst the possible moment. Today we wanted to talk about why regular rebooting is important and why so many troubleshooting sessions begin with a restart of the device.

Why people don’t reboot

The most common reason people do not want to reboot is due to the time it takes the computer to start up. That is a fair argument, no one likes to wait. But a modern, business class computer should have a reasonable boot time. If a device is slow to boot, this is indicative of a larger problem and should be investigated. And if this problem grows or leads to additional issues, your device will only become slower and the issue more difficult to resolve. Negating any time saved by not rebooting in the first place.

A Reboot Is A Great Starting Point

We know that an immediate request to reboot the device during troubleshooting may come off as thoughtless or lazy, but it is quite the opposite.  An analogy that we like to use is getting lost on a hike.

Let’s say that you are walking a trail and find that you have lost your way. Does it make more sense to trudge forward into the unknown and investigate multiple paths until you find your way back on the proper route? Or would it be much faster and easier to backtrack and start from the beginning?

In most instances, simply starting over yields the best results and is often the fastest route to resolving a technical issue. And that is exactly what a reboot does. It puts all the processes and services back in a familiar place, allowing the problem hardware or software to find its path and hopefully not get lost again. If it does reoccur, then a technician will know that a more deep-seated issue exists and can begin investigating more specific causes.

Benefits of rebooting regularly


Microsoft and other vendors are regularly publishing patches to improve performance and remove security vulnerabilities. These patch updates can only be applied or installed during a reboot. So, if you aren’t rebooting regularly, you may not be receiving critical updates. We often find that missing updates are the cause of the original problem that led to the need for troubleshooting.

Memory Leaks-

A memory leak is when a program continues to use memory resources that it no longer needs, preventing other applications from utilizing that resource. As a result, your overall memory is depleted, and Windows will slow down or fail. Closing and opening the trouble program should resolve this issue. If you are unsure which program is causing the leak, a reboot of the entire system ensures that the right program is restarted.

Give Your Hardware a Break

Shutting your computer down at the end of a workday can extend the life of your device’s hardware. Laptop batteries benefit the most from regular shutdowns as they have a set number of charge cycles before degradation or failure. But all computer hardware will benefit from some planned downtime. Plus, a shutdown comes with all of the benefits of a restart as it is essentially the same process, just delayed.

While restarting a device is a great way to fix an issue, a need to frequently reboot can be a sign of a larger issue. Rebooting multiple times a day to resolve slowness or restore functionality to a program is almost always indicative of real problem. If you find yourself needing to restart often, reach out to your IT department for investigation.

The goal for most IT technicians is to resolve problems as quickly as possible to avoid downtime. Restarting a trouble device is the perfect first step for almost any technical issue. A reboot can either resolve the issue or provide additional insight into the problem, expediting the remaining troubleshooting process. Just remember that a reboot shouldn’t only be used when troubleshooting. Regular restarts can improve performance, extend the lifespan, and provide update opportunities for all of your devices.

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