Is your PC acting weird, crashing frequently, and taking ages to open apps?
Maybe a restart is in order!
Restarting your computer is the first thing recommended for many PC issues because, most of the time, these issues aren’t serious.
However, some IT experts recommend rebooting your PC regularly even if your device is working smoothly.
If that’s the case, how often is enough?
Can you do it every day, for instance?
How Often Should You Restart Your Computer?
The general rule of thumb is to restart your computer once a week if you don’t shut it down and put it into sleep mode instead.
If you use your computer to perform intensive tasks like video editing or gaming, it’s better to restart it at shorter intervals, like twice a week.
You should restart your computer when you feel it has become sluggish or is facing a temporary glitch that can go away with a restart.
In many other cases involving even a serious computer problem, the first thing you should do is to restart your computer.
For example, suppose your computer can’t establish an internet connection, your game mods don’t load, or you have display issues or any problem with your system or third-party apps.
In that case, the underlying cause may be an unknown or minor one simply going away with a reboot.
However, these are not the only cases calling for a reboot.
When you download new updates for the OS, software, or drivers, the system requires you to perform a restart to install the new updates.
In addition, a reboot can be a preventative, regular maintenance task to help your computer run smoothly and avoid developing glitches.
Even if your system works flawlessly, it’s a good idea to restart it regularly.
How Does A Restart Help Your Computer?
Restarting your computer can help prevent or solve problems by affecting different parts of your system.
Sometimes, a restart is mandatory.
The system will ask you to schedule a restart or reboot your computer instantly.
For example, when you install new software, driver, or OS update, you need to restart your computer to let the new updates take effect.
Other than these mandatory updates, you may want to reboot your system regularly to avoid some issues.
Here’s how a system reboot can help:
1. Flushes The RAM
It’s the most important reason you should restart your computer if you don’t turn off the computer or face a glitch or reduced performance.
The more intensive the tasks that you perform on your computer, the more frequently you need to flush your RAM.
RAM is the temporary memory that keeps a copy of your operating system and every application you open.
All the changes you make in your files and folders are copied to the RAM and remain there until you save them on the hard drive and close the app.
Some of this data may remain on the RAM even after closing the app or folder.
This problem is called memory leak and leads to the allocation of RAM space to a closed program.
In such cases, the program has unused memory but doesn’t allow new data to be overwritten.
In addition, when you put your computer in sleep mode, the current system state will be saved on RAM, taking up your memory.
That’s not necessarily problematic because you can run your computer for weeks without shutting it off and by putting it into sleep whenever you don’t need it.
When the temporary data pile up in RAM, they bog down your memory, slowing down the entire system.
The only way to empty your RAM is to reboot it, as putting the PC in sleep mode can’t flush the memory.
As a result, it’s recommended to restart your computer whenever you feel it is sluggish or does it once a week to avoid performance issues.
2. Helps Applications Run Better
Keeping an application running for a long time will gather temporary data in the system cache.
When the cache fills up, it can affect the app’s performance and slow it down.
You may also experience frequent crashes making the app unresponsive.
Even if you don’t experience crashes, your programs may become slower over time if you don’t give them a chance to reset and run them constantly.
As a result, you may see they don’t respond and open as fast as they used to, hurting your overall productivity.
Restarting the PC can empty the app’s cache and make it run more smoothly.
3. Ends Background Tasks
Sometimes, when you close a program after finishing your task, it will run in the background without you noticing.
These background apps can hog your processor resources, slowing down your computer.
Restarting the PC helps end these processes and gives you a speed boost.
You can end these processes through the Task Manager, but you need to decide which ones are essential and which you can end.
Restarting does the job for you automatically.
4. Fixes Hardware Issues
If you notice your computer is unusually running hot, a reboot can help solve the issue.
The heat issue may result from a piece of hardware working too much due to a problematic app or temporary glitch.
You may hear the fans running loud or even experience internet or Bluetooth connection problems.
Any minor hardware-related issue can be due to keeping your system on for a long time.
Restarting the PC can help remove or prevent these glitches if you reboot the computer once a week.
It may not help your hardware-related problem, but it can be the first troubleshooting action if the underlying cause isn’t serious.
Restart Vs. Shutdown Vs. Sleep
If you click the Start button and then the Power icon on the left, you can see three power-saving modes: Sleep, Shut Down, and Restart (and a fourth one if you’ve enabled it: Hibernate).
Now that you know a weekly restart can help your computer run more smoothly, you may wonder if you can use the other power-saving options.
They’re all legitimate options offered by Windows, and you should be able to use them whenever you want.
Still, they have fundamental differences making them suitable for different situations.
1. Saving Power
Keeping your PC on constantly isn’t environmentally friendly because it consumes energy while you don’t need it.
Therefore, you should use these power-saving modes to avoid unnecessary resource consumption.
Shutting down your computer isn’t necessary, even if you don’t use it overnight.
You can safely put it in sleep mode whenever you don’t need it and don’t want to lose the open tabs, re-enter sign-in information, or lose your current workflow.
When you wake the computer, it will open to everything you had on the screen, allowing you to pick up where you left off.
Since it saves a copy of the current state on the RAM, which requires power to function, it uses more power than the full shutdown.
When you shut down your PC, all processes end and close, leading to zero power consumption.
A restart doesn’t take long enough to significantly change your power consumption because it kills the processes and turns on the system immediately.
If you care about the environment and don’t plan to use your computer for a few days, you can shut it down.
However, putting the PC in sleep mode doesn’t consume much power, and you can use it as the second-best option preferred over running the PC all the time.
The same thing applies to battery life for laptops.
Shutting the PC down will be a better option if you don’t have access to a power source and don’t need your device.
But sleep mode and even hibernate are better options if you want to use your laptop for a short time.
2. Wear And Tear
Computers have many moving parts, including fans and hard drives.
These parts are constantly moving when the PC is on, shortening their lifespan over time.
If you want to prolong their lifespan, the best thing is to put them in sleep mode when you don’t need the device.
In this mode, the PC is sleeping and ready to wake up instantaneously.
The fans and hard drive platters stop moving, like in the shutdown state.
Shutting down the computer can also prolong the lifespan of your internal parts because it stops them from working.
However, when you turn on your computer, the internal components receive power, filling up their capacitors.
That can increase the stress on these parts and decrease their lifespan.
However, it doesn’t mean you should never shut down your computer.
Again, it’s better to shut it down when you don’t plan to use your computer for a long period.
Shutting down the PC for the night is also safe.
The only thing you should avoid is shutting down the PC constantly during the day.
As for restarting, you can guess what will happen if you restart your computer a lot.
It’s like shutting down the system, so a weekly restart is safe to enjoy its benefits.
3. Solving Issues
As mentioned, one of the main purposes of restarting your PC is clearing out system memory and removing temporary glitches.
The sleep mode can lead to these issues because your PC’s current state is on the RAM, filling up its space and reducing performance in the long run.
Now, you may wonder whether a restart or a full shutdown can help remove these glitches better.
After all, they both end and close programs and clear RAM.
However, there’s a subtle difference between these two power modes, meaning only one of them can help you remove glitches more effectively.
Here’s how they work:
When you shut down your computer, it doesn’t truly turn everything off.
Instead, it enters a deep hibernation state that saves the kernel (a low-level, Windows-essential program running at the core of Windows) on the hard disk.
This technology, made available by the Fast Startup feature enabled by default in Windows 8, 10, and 11, helps boot up Windows much faster.
In this sense, shutting down isn’t much different from sleep mode because it doesn’t fully end the processes.
That’s why Windows requires you to restart the computer when it installs new updates.
Therefore, you should restart your computer to clear RAM and get a clean slate.
Restarting the computer will shut down the kernel, allowing Windows to initialize all processes from scratch.
It may sound counterintuitive, knowing that restarting will shut down your computer instead of the shutdown option.
The Fast Startup feature can help you get back to work faster without eliminating the bugs and glitches that need a full and true shutdown.
How To Schedule A Restart
As you can see, restarting your PC regularly can help it run more smoothly by allowing Windows to clear the cache, flush RAM, and fully reset processes.
It also doesn’t depend on whether you shut down your PC at night or put it in sleep mode.
Since shutting down the PC puts it in deep hibernation, it can’t solve the problems that restarting the device can.
Remembering to restart your PC regularly may be difficult if you’re busy and your computer runs all the time smoothly.
You can schedule Windows to reboot the PC at the time intervals you set.
Here’s how to do it:
Open the Run box by pressing the Windows key + R.
Type in taskschd.msc and press Enter.
Select Taskbar Library by clicking it and going to the right panel.
Select New folder and choose a name for it, like Weekly Restart or whatever name you prefer.
Now go to the Task Library option and expand it.
Right-click the new folder you created and select Create Basic Task.
Here again, you should select a name for the new task, like Reboot, Restart, or whatever you prefer.
Click Next to go to the Trigger section, where you can select how often your task is done.
Select Weekly and then specify the exact time you want the scheduler to restart your PC.
Click Next to go to the Action section.
Select Start a program and hit Next.
In the new window, type Shutdown / r under Program/Script.
If you can’t type these values, click Browse and find them in the list.
If you see a message requiring you to confirm your action, select Yes to continue.
Click Finish on the left side of the window to complete the schedule and set the weekly reboot.
Remember to set the time for automatic restart when you don’t work on your computer.
Still, since restarting can delete all unfinished data, you’ll get a prompt to save your work when the automatic restart is about to initiate.
Restart Vs. Reset
You may have heard of resetting your computer as a solution to some problems.
While some users think resetting and restarting are the same, they’re entirely different.
An older computer may have a button next to the Power button labeled Reset, adding to the confusion between the two options.
The Reset button on your computer simply restarts the computer, but the Reset option is different.
There’s another source of confusion: Soft reset and Hard reset.
A soft reset means restarting your computer, while a hard reset takes it back to its factory settings, making them hugely different.
The biggest difference is that restarting the PC only deletes your unsaved data and everything you have on the volatile memory.
And if you save your work before restarting the PC, you’ll get a fresh slate with all your saved data and installed apps.
However, a factory reset will wipe everything, from your installed apps to saved passwords, license credentials, and Windows settings.
You can choose to keep user-generated files, but you’ll lose everything else.
As a result, a factory reset is recommended for serious issues that a restart and other troubleshooting methods can’t solve.
It’s a last-resort solution because you’ll have to re-install apps and tweak settings to customize the system.
Naturally, it’s not an option that you can regularly perform, unlike restarting the PC.
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