This is the reason why you should restart your devices from time to time

This is the reason why you should restart your devices from time to time Thumbnail
Published on 22. April 2020Last updated on 19. June 2020

As a computer scientist you are confronted with new challenges and problems every day. Some are easy to solve, but for some there is only one secret weapon: The restart!


Everyone in the IT industry has probably experienced it. You work on a problem forever, you can’t find a solution and then you have the idea of restarting the device. And poof, everything is working again. You could have saved yourself so much work… πŸ™

But why does a restart help so often?

A restart is often also called a soft reset and actually does this colloquially: a reset. Technically this is not really the case, of course, but in my eyes it can be compared to this.

While a device is running, data is permanently collected and saved in the background, logs are rotated, data is deleted and much more. It does not matter whether it is “only” a smartphone or a complete server. This temporary data can cause software errors. This can happen with installed applications, but also directly on the operating system. In the worst case, such temporary files can also cause a crash.


It may sound strange, but just a single line of code can cause a device to crash!

Desktop with some monitors and laptops

In addition, each device has a random access memory (RAM), which varies in size depending on the equipment and type of device. This is where the computer stores the data it works with, i.e. the data it needs to calculate individual processes and access them quickly. However, this data is not visible to normal users and is also irrelevant, since it is only used for internal calculations.

The RAM is a so-called volatile memory. This means that as soon as it is technically no longer powered (i.e. the device is switched off) this data is lost forever. They are therefore automatically deleted when the device is restarted. When the computer starts up again, all the faulty data is gone and the PC can start working again. Because: even a computer makes mistakes. πŸ™‚

Many applications and services reinitialize data even after a restart. Means that used data is recalculated or read in, which is essential for an optimal program flow.


My experiences

In my years as a computer scientist I have of course come across such situations in my life. I have experienced this with all kinds of devices, no matter if Smartphone, PC or root server. Especially with root servers, where often important data is stored on them and you can feel like you can search for years for a problem, it is usually worth a try to simply restart the server. The same applies to all services (mail server, web server, database, etc.).

One situation in particular has remained in my memory:

Faulty smartphone battery!?

When the smartphone battery gives up the ghost, it is super annoying. Because (almost) no smartphone has a backside that can be opened to change the battery, changing the battery is expensive and nerve-wracking. It came to me quite suddenly that my (Samsung) Smartphone had only an estimated 60% of the battery capacity and I had already prepared myself for the worst. I could have imagined a software problem after the battery had lost this capacity from one day to the next. But in this situation I didn’t come up with this idea.

Anyway, after a few days I received a message from the pre-installed App Device Care that a service was putting a lot of load on the CPU and that I should restart the device. And what can I say, the problem was gone. Again a moment in which the reboot solved the problem.

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