Why Does Restarting Solve So Many Problems? - PC SEEKERS

Why Does Restarting Solve So Many Problems?


We have all been there, the computer won't respond to mouse clicks, the keyboard on your smartphone stopped working, the smart TV is not loading a streaming app, the WiFi stopped working or your game console suddenly froze in a screenshot mode. And if you ask anybody who knows anything about PCs and smartphones or call tech support, the first thing they will ask you is "Did you try rebooting or restarting your device?". Fortunately restarting or turning it off and turning it on back again often is an easy fix for these catastrophic crashes. And often times the issue has mysteriously vanished.

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But why does rebooting or restarting a problematic program seem to be some kind of magical cure all for your device? Well it comes down to the fact that most computer freezes happen because of some kind of mishap that your system can't recover from on it's own. 


For example when you let your device keep running for days continuously without turning it off, you will open multiple applications on it and open and close multiple tabs on the browser that you use to surf the internet, once you close or exit an application it leaves footprints in the form of cache in the RAM (Random Access Memory) and at some point the RAM is full of junking that you do not need anymore. If your computer is smart enough it will clear the previous junk from the RAM that was left by the previously used applications once you open a new application. But in few cases the junk just builds up in the RAM and you start feeling the lag and choppiness in your OS and device. So, once you reboot or restart your device everything is cleared from the RAM (since RAM is Volatile Memory) thus fixing a lot of choppiness in the OS and app crashes in your device.

So, if the issue is minor, your system might  be smart enough to work around it on its own. For example, if you are using a wired Ethernet connection and your adapter starts misbehaving, it can transition over to WiFi so that you can carry on browsing, downloading, uploading or computing whatever the case may be. But in more serious cases, your computer simply cannot find a way through or around once the error occurs and  it has to start back at square so it restarts itself in the case of a BSOD.


Sometimes code is written in a way that whatever program you are running expects some resources it is using to be present and behave in a certain way. A good example of this is a sudden blue screen of death (BSOD) in Windows which sometimes occurs when Windows was trying to access a piece of data in memory that that simply was not there and the code doesn't know what to do next. So, in this case, rebooting forces the Windows code to reload from the very beginning getting your system functioning again. 

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But even if your system is not hopelessly stuck in a blue screen of death (BSOD), it may be running very sluggishly due to an individual program whose code is badly written. Badly written code can be catastrophic when it encounters an unexpected problem like in the Windows example above. Or, certain conditions can cause it to run in what's called as an infinite loop where it just keeps doing the same thing again an again until the OS is restarted or rebooted. Loops can hog lots of CPU time on your computer since the program won't stop and it can also make it difficult to force quit the program meaning that a reboot can break the loop and get you running again so that you can uninstall the misbehaving application.

Even applications that are behaving more or less normally can open up background processes that can hog RAM or CPU cycles or be affected themselves by other malfunctioning applications so a reboot will kill those process and when your system starts back up only what it normally loads will be present in memory.

In another example, if your graphics driver crashes, Windows XP and other previous version of Windows would just freeze. In Windows Vista and other newer version of Windows, the desktop will loose it fancy graphical effects for a few moments before regaining them. In the background Windows was just restarting the misbehaving graphics drivers instead of just freezing or restarting the whole OS / device. And since errors in programs that simply are not smart enough to recover from are so common, turning it off and turning it back on again is one of the easiest solution in solving a lot of software and driver related issues.That combined with the basic ability to search google for troubleshooting tips should come in quite handy in solving a lot of issues in your family's devices.

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