There are few certainties in life: Death, taxes and turning your computer off and on when there’s a problem. This is usually the first piece of advice you get from friends, family and tech support.
Rebooting your computer helps keep it running smoothly. It clears the memory, stopping any tasks that are eating up RAM. Even if you’ve closed an app, it could still tap your memory. A reboot can also fix peripheral and hardware issues. If your computer is still running slow, this one trick could help.
So, how often should you be rebooting your computer? Let’s take a look at how rebooting can impact your system and when exactly you should be doing it.
Give your computer a fresh start
We recommend that you shut down your computer at least once a week. A reboot process returns everything to its boot-up state, from your computer’s CPU to its memory. Tap or click here to see how to properly restart your PC or Mac.
Rebooting your computer involves two steps — shutting down the computer and then starting it up again. When you reboot/restart your computer, it will lose power during the process and start up again on its own.
Your computer itself will occasionally prompt you to restart it, usually after downloading an update. Newer machines need fewer restarts, but a major software patch usually requires one.
Reduce wear and tear
Your computer is full of moving parts. Its CPU, essentially the brain, has its own fan. High-end graphics cards also need their own cooling system. Though solid-state drives are becoming more popular, most PCs still use hard disk drives, consisting of spinning discs.
All of these components wear down over time and the longer you keep your computer running, the shorter their lifespan will be.
It’s easy to fall into the habit of leaving it on to avoid having to go through the bootup process, but it will help you get more life out of your machine. If you are stepping away for a few hours or would rather not completely shut things down, you can put your PC down for a nap.
Sleep it off
Sleep mode puts your computer into a low-power state. The fans will stop spinning and the hard drive will stop functioning, so things will get quiet.
With sleep mode, your computer’s current state stays in the memory. When you wake up your machine, your open apps, documents, music, etc., will be right where you left them. Tap or click here to see how your iPhone and Apple Watch can help you improve your sleeping habits.
To put your PC in sleep mode:
- Open power options:
- For Windows 10, tap Start > Settings > System > Power & sleep > Additional power settings.
- For Windows 8.1 / Windows RT 8.1, swipe in from the edge of the screen, tap Search (or if you’re using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Search), enter Power options in the search box and tap Power options.
- For Windows 7, tap Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Power Options.
- Do one of the following:
- If you’re using a desktop, tablet, or laptop, select Choose what the power buttons do. Next to When I press the power button, select Sleep > Save changes.
- If you’re using only a laptop, select Choose what closing the lid does. Next to When I close the lid, select Sleep > Save changes.
- When you’re ready to make your PC sleep, press the power button on your desktop, tablet or laptop, or close your laptop’s lid.
On most PCs, you can resume working by pressing your PC’s power button. However, not all PCs are the same. You might be able to wake it by pressing any key on the keyboard, clicking a mouse button or opening the lid on a laptop. Check the manual that came with your computer or go to the manufacturer’s website.
It takes less time to wake up a computer than it does to turn it on after a shutdown, but sleep mode still consumes power. If you want to clear out bugs, memory leeches, nonfunctioning network connections and more, a reboot is the way to go.