A quick and easy challenge this month: restart your devices!
How many times have you had this experience: Your work computer is behaving strangely and won’t send or receive emails? Or, your smart phone freezes and you can’t type a message? Or, your home internet seems super slow and Netflix keeps crashing?
You pick up the phone, call tech support, and the first thing they say is:
“Have you tried turning it off and back on again?”
There’s something about the “turn it off, turn it on” directive that most of us find infuriating. It feels too simple. The tech industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that solves complex problems faster than we can roll our eyes. To hear someone who is educated in this field and paid good money to develop new technologies say, “turn it off and turn it back on” makes us wonder why they needed so many years of school.
But, in spite of our incredulity and frustration, this method does actually work. Computer slow downs and glitches are often caused by memory leaks. Programs get opened and closed and opened again, and with each activity the program takes up more and more working memory. Computers, like our brains, get stuck in loops trying to solve problems within programs that we’ve long since closed. A restart clears the working memory, closes any loops, and gives the system a fresh start. It’s like a good spring cleaning for your computer, but done in five minutes or less (that’s the kind of spring cleaning I can get behind!).
Should I Restart, or Shutdown Entirely?
If you’re looking to clear your computer’s working memory, end all processes, and give your machine a quick refresh so it runs a bit smoother and faster, then just perform a simple Restart (this goes for both Macs and Windows 8 or later). Your computer will shut itself down and spring back to life within a few minutes.
A complete shutdown, in which the computer doesn’t start up again until you turn it on, is worth doing if you’re going to be away from your machine for a while (overnight or longer). It’s more energy efficient and will prolong the life of your battery. It also makes your computer more secure; taking a computer completely offline removes the opportunity for it to be hacked.
How Often Should I Restart or Shutdown?
More often than you might think! Most experts suggest restarting your computer, laptop, tablet, and smartphone every few days, and performing a complete shutdown about once a week. So maybe don’t wait a full year before you revisit this challenge!
Have fun with this month’s challenge and we’ll see you in July!