A common complaint that we hear is that computers begin to run slower and slower over time. There are many possible reasons for this, but about half of the issues that we see can be resolved by a simple restart.
One potential reason is that there tend to be a lot of applications running in the background, taking up resources.
Most applications are fairly simple: they run when you click on them and stop when you close them. However, some (such as office suites) have background processes that run even when the software isn’t open. The intent is to make it faster for you to open software that you use very often. By loading some important portions of the software ahead of time, Word or Acrobat can load much more quickly.
Restarting can help to fix issues with all of your electronic devices, not just your computer.
You might be wondering how this can be a bad thing. Generally speaking, it isn’t, but applications are imperfect systems designed by imperfect people. One common issue we find in many applications is what is referred to as a “memory leak”. This means that the application loads functions it needs, but doesn’t always correctly unload them and starts to hog more and more resources over time.
As your computer runs out of resources, it can start doing some very odd things. This has lead to one of the most maligned phrases in the IT support industry: “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” Restarting your computer is a great way to clear out all of the resources that have been claimed by whatever applications are running in the background. This is an easy and often surprising fix for some of the strangest computer issues.
Find out how shutting down your computer is different from putting it into sleep or hibernate mode here here.
Ideally, you should turn off your computer every evening, but we don’t live in an ideal world. Sometimes we need to let something run overnight. Other times the computer is slow to start and so we leave it running.
We strongly advise that you restart your computer at least once every week to fix the issues mentioned in this article. If you need to make sure the computer is ready for the next morning, restart the computer before you go to bed, then use sleep or hibernate mode to save some power.
If you notice that you’re having to restart your computer more and more frequently, it may be a sign of a much bigger issue. It is difficult to say how often is too often. If you’re having trouble figuring out what is causing the slowness, feel free to reach out to us for a remote diagnosis.