Why does restarting your computer/ phone work most of the time?

in #technology7 months ago

This is something that I have pondered for many years and never really understood why simply turning something off and then turning it back on again will mostly fix whatever issues you are having with an electronic device. We joke about this with cars and everything else but it never really seems to work on anything except computers. It always has for the most part and I never really bothered to look into why that is.


A buddy recently shared an easy to understand example of why it is that this process works and it stuck with me. I'll be paraphrasing and it wouldn't surprise me at all if it wasn't even his original thoughts but it stuck with me and it kind of makes sense. It goes a little something like this.

Imagine that you are leaving your house in a town that you have lived in for a long time. You are very familiar with a lot of the city but not all of it. GPS doesn't exist and you only have a basic idea of how to get to where the destination is. You get quite a lot of the way to the destination but then simply find yourself hopelessly lost, you spend a lot of time driving around in circles but never actually getting to the destination. In your frustration you start driving more erratically and even trying backstreets or one way streets that get you even further away from what your final destination is. You no longer know any of your surroundings and are basically just wasting time at this point.

Now, given this situation, does it make more sense to continue to drive around in circles until you run out of gas and the car eventually switches off, or would it make more sense to go back to the start, an area that you are familiar with, and have another try at making it to the destination with a better idea in mind?

Maybe that doesn't make total sense but I thought it was a pretty decent real-world example of why it is that a freshly restarted computer or mobile phone has a much better opportunity to give a desired result. I would imagine there are some computer nerds out there that actually DO know what is causing the problem and can fix it, but I don't think that this is a very large percentage of the population. For me, restarting from the beginning and having another try at whatever it is that I am doing seems like a much better choice that just getting increasingly frustrated or even getting the task manager involved.


It happened the same with my old computer. He had some solid character and some guts sometimes :)) I think they all want to annoy us sometimes and need some attention. In my case, both my computer and my phone had some issues they needed to be fixed. Bugs, too many apps, etc. Thanks for writing this article. It reminded me of the pains I endured with my old phone as well.

well I am glad you liked it. I don't really know the real answer to the question i just kind of liked the analogy that my friend provided me with. These days I do kind of feel like Windows intentionally bogs down your computer when they want you to install and update tho...

I was from IT background. When I was an in house technician, I solve my users problem by asking them to turn off everything, and turn on everything just like the moment they came to work in the morning. And yes, like you said it usually solve the problem every single time 🤣 but if the user said she came to work in the morning, it already not working, then I know I need to go there and see if the unit is on fire already 🤣

Avoid reading this if you do not know what is MS-DOS. But here's the story

However, there's one time I asked the client type WIN, then open the window to see if the note pad is there... The next thing I heard from the phone was 3 key stroke, and then a handle or level actuate sound, then white noise from the street. The person said there's only a janitor downstairs, no notepad.

Apparently, the autoexec.bat was damaged, after booting from MS-DOS it didn't load into windows 3.1 😪

I used to know a fair bit about MS DOS but most of that knowledge is long gone. I would go into department stores and pull up a DOS prompt and type format C: then giggle as I walked away.

The analogy is correct. Restarting returns a device to a known state.

There might be a problem with the system configuration. Returning to a known state helps people figure this out.

Restarting the machine would turn off any programs that were started by accident. It also would recover from memory leaks or other problems that occurred with running programs.


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I wish I knew more about computers and tech than I do but I do know that restarting tends to fix most of this issues for me. Limiting the amount of programs that automatically add themselves to the startup is probably a good way to extend the life of a potato though.

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