November 10, 2021

Have you tried turning it off and on again?


Have you tried turning it off and on again?

There is a very good reason why most computer performance issues are solved by simply rebooting the computer. If rebooting is not a user’s regular habit, they could be adding to their own complaints on the performance of their workstation. At the most basic level, there are three very good reasons why prepping a computer for a regular shutdown is in the best interest of a user and their business.

Data Loss Prevention

Most of the users I have come across do not reboot their computers as they often leave work open so they can quickly resume their work in the morning. While there is still the complaint that their machine is slow, leaving unsaved work open and unattended is asking for trouble. There are several events that could cause the loss of unsaved data. Unless a workstation is needed for remote access or hosting shared folders or printers, leaving a computer powered on could mean unsaved data could be lost if a major power outage occurred. A user should at the very least be in the habit of frequently saving their work during the day and even more so when they leave for the day. It is always in the best interest of the user and their business to save and close out their work before rebooting or shutting down their computer at the end of the day to prevent data loss or corruption during a catastrophic event.

Kills Processes Stuck in The Mud

The biggest reason that a computer with a long system uptime, meaning it hasn’t been rebooted in a while, has sluggish performance issues is the presence of processes stuck spinning like tires in mud. A reboot clears out those stuck processes and gives the PC a fresh start leading to better performance for programs that might have been unresponsive or giving error messages. It’s often one of the first steps a technician will take in troubleshooting for the very reason that it solves so many issues with performance or unresponsive applications.

Windows Updates and Security Patches

While most Windows updates can be installed while Windows is running, there are some updates, such as feature updates and security patches, that will not install themselves until Windows goes into a shut down or boot up process. The blue screen of Windows updates is the one thing that will cause a user’s eyes to roll and avoid rebooting all together as Windows updates can take a significant time to process during a boot process. This is compounded when infrequent reboot practices cause a backlog of updates that are waiting to install. The biggest risk to a user and business is delaying the installation of security patches that are meant to resolve vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malware or hackers. By failing to reboot at least once a week, one workstation without these patches could be the open door through which a business can be breached. This could result in data leaks, data loss, or ransomware.

I recognize that many find the reboot process to be an inconvenience to deal with. Especially if a machine is older and might not have the fastest processor, the reboot process could take up valuable time out of the business day. This could be compounded by errors, diagnostics and recovery, or a backlog of updates making infrequent rebooting practices even more of a strain. A lack of frequent rebooting on a system has the potential to do more harm than saving a few minutes of down time.

If a user is avoiding reboots for the sake of not having to sit through the boot up process, the best time to reboot is at the end of the day before they leave so the reboot process and any updates in queue can process overnight and be ready for login in the morning. For convenience, a user can also speak to a member of the service team about configuring the start up folder and browser windows so that necessary applications and websites are loaded and ready to go once the user logs in.

At the end of the day, rebooting a computer at least once a week is far better for a system and business than leaving a computer running for days or even months on end. As always, you can reach out to our service team with any questions you might have regarding rebooting and good housekeeping practices for your business’ technological health.

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