HOW TO Fix a Slow Computer Tip #1: Restart Your Computer
Step 1 – How to Fix a Slow Computer – RESTART!
So you’re frustrated with that slow computer you have and not sure what to do? You’re likely here because you searched the web for a solution on a slow computer fix, or you’ve come via my list of the 16 Tips to Fix a Slow Computer (or the Video here). So, welcome to the first tip in a series of how-to guides on making your computer faster! Below you’ll find out why we restart (also known as reboot) our computers, what it actually does, how to do it and how often should we restart. We’d be performing this step whenever we see some the computer is not as responsive as it used to be or its being slow, laggy, or just a general pain and not responding at all. It’s simple, fast, effective and FREE. Thus, it’s the first step in the troubleshooting process when trying to diagnose and fix a slow computer.
Any time your computer is being slow, sluggish, or not responding is when you’ll want to restart it. It’s the first step in basic troubleshooting, especially when trying to diagnose a slow computer. It also works well when you’re computer just doesn’t seem to be acting like it should be. Such as pages not loading, programs not opening, sound, keyboard or mouse doesn’t work, etc. Restarting may sound like a silly task, but you would be surprised at how many times this actually resolves a problem, and generally it’s the most likely overlooked step in the whole slow computer diagnosing process. Not to mention its a super fast way to troubleshoot your slow computer and its free!
What does Restarting Your Computer Do
When you restart/reboot your computer what you are actually doing is turning it off, and then turning it back on again. The difference being a reboot/restart is a 1 step process where turning it off is one step, and then pressing the button on your computer to turn it back on is another step. What it’s doing when you restart your computer is shutting down all the hardware on your Computer, closing all programs and it also clear’s out ALL the RAM (which is where your computer keeps programs running). When you’re computer is slow, it’s generally related one of three key areas:
- RAM: Low on Available RAM which means there are too many programs running (or one problem program hogging it all), or the RAM is going bad.
- CPU: Maxing out CPU usage which again, means too many programs (or one problem program hogging it all), or the CPU is going bad.
- Hard Drive: Too many programs writing data to the drive at once. Your computer was out of RAM, so it started using the hard drive to store the temporary data it needs (which RAM is EXTREMELY faster than a hard drive). Or, the Hard Drive is going bad.
So performing a restart refreshes all 3 key areas. RAM is emptied, since it’s only a “temporary” storage area, CPU is freed up because all the programs running were shut down, and the hard drive cleared out its cache/paging file (overflow area for the RAM). The good thing is, this process does NOT erase the data (ie. Pictures, documents, programs, etc) on your computer. So it’s a harmless option to help fix a slow computer, and often why it’s suggested first.
How to Restart Your Computer so it Fixes a Slow Computer
So now you’ve got the background of what restarting a computer does, and why so many of us Techs often recommend it in the beginning of our troubleshooting routines. We can then proceed on how to go about doing it so we can see if this first step fixes our slow computer. This process will slightly vary depending on what type of Operating System you have (Windows, Mac or Linux), the flavor of the Operating System (Such as Windows XP, Windows 7, 8, etc), and whether or not you are on a Desktop or Laptop. The good thing is, while they may be different, they are all pretty similar. There are several ways to restart your computer, and we’ll cover them from the safest option first:
- Use the Restart option on your Start/Programs menu. All of our operating systems have some sort of “Start” (as familiarized by Windows) button on the main toolbar of the computer. Within that menu will generally be another option or button to get to the different methods of shutting down the PC (Generally containing the options to Shutdown, Restart, Log Off and Sleep). Some may have a button that says “Shut down”; while others have an on/off symbol. Locate the option on your computer and choose the Restart option to launch the reboot process. This is the safest option, as it makes sure to shut down all the open programs as well (although you should close any open programs first).
- Now, if your computer isn’t responding, or mouse isn’t working you can try the so called “Three Finger Salute”. This is pressing the CTRL, ALT and DELETE keys on your keyboard at the same time. This will generally bring up an option to select the restart option or sometimes if you press it multiple times quickly, will force the restart to happen. This is generally not as safe because sometimes it does not have the opportunity to shut down all the running programs gracefully.
- Last, but most risky is holding the Power (On/Off) button on your desktop tower or on your laptop. Holding this button down for a few seconds will force the system to shut down. This should only be used with the two previous methods were not responding.
While it’s pretty neat to see how long you can keep your computer on for (and yeah, I do see people take great pride in having their PC on for 2 years straight without a restart), it’s much better to restart that thing at least on a weekly basis unless you’re running a true Server (Windows Server Operating System). However, this has been of much debate, but I prefer for Windows 7 and older, to restart at least weekly to help clear the cache, RAM and speed up your computer.
Rebooting your computer is simply turning it off, and then turning back on. This clears out loads of temporary data stored within your PC and believe it or not, this CAN (and does!) solve a lot of problems. So, give it a shot. Turn that computer off for a second to clear out those temporary files and fix that slow computer!
For more tips on how to fix a slow computer, make sure to check out the full guide: 16 Tips to Fix a Slow Computer
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