When it comes to troubleshooting tech problems there can a million different variables, thousands of different tools and many, many troubleshooting strategies. Through all the complexities and advances in technology there remains one key troubleshooting technique that is easy to overlook — Restart, Reset, Reboot. It sounds too simple to be effective, but many times getting your computer or device back to functioning normally can be achieved through rebooting, restarting, resetting or power cycling.
There are many tech problems that occur deep down within the inner working of a computer or other electronic device that are just because “things got out of whack” (a technical term). These anomalies defy description or explanation, but they do happen. People still forget that the good old Control-Alt-Delete method of troubleshooting is still relevant and effective. When things appear to have gone sideways with your computer with no clear or apparent reason, sometimes clearing the decks and getting your system back to its start up state can resolve problems that otherwise seem unsolvable.
Power Cycling — Or Turning the Power Off Then On
A variation on the rebooting process can come in the form of turning the power off and then back on. Power cycling can be useful when connecting an external device such as a hard disk drive or a printer to a computer. Many times it is best to have the external device turned off when you connect it to your computer. After the device is connected then turn it on.
Power cycling can also be a useful troubleshooting tool when one device has been turned off for some time but a connected device has been left on. This is a common situation with printers where the computer is turned off but the printer is left on. If you are have a problem printing try turning the printer off for 10 – 15 seconds and then back on.
Others examples where Restart/Reset/Reboot may work:
- Using your computer for days without rebooting. Windows computers tends behave rather erratically when not rebooted every day or two.
- Putting your laptop computer in standby mode (closing the lid) and then finding that you experience problems trying to connect to a wireless network.
- The connection to a cable modem or DSL Modem seems to be providing wide swings in Internet connection speed. Unplug the power cable from the modem, count to 10 and plug the power cable back in. Reboot your computer and see if the connection speed stabilizes and/or improves.
It doesn’t sound dramatically high tech and it doesn’t solve every problem. But you disregard this troubleshooting technique at the risk of wasting hours chasing a problem that actually had an easy solution.