The Power of Restarting: Why Turning Devices Off and On Fixes Them

The Power of Restarting: Why Turning Devices Off and On Fixes Them

Whenever friends and family ask me what they should do when their phone, computer, or other tech product isn’t working properly, I tell them to try restarting the device. While that advice may seem a bit clichéd, the reality is that it often works. Turning your device off and on gives it a fresh start, stopping all operations, clearing its memory, and re-establishing network connections, among other things. Here are nine reasons why rebooting works.

iPhone 14 Pro showing the option to power off.

Why rebooting your device works

1. Clears memory

Devices use volatile memory, like RAM, to store temporary data. Over time, this data can become corrupted or overwhelmed, causing the device to slow down or malfunction. Restarting the device clears the volatile memory, wiping away any corrupt or unnecessary data, which often resolves the issue.

2. Addresses memory leaks

In addition to clearing memory, restarting can address one of the roots of the problem: memory leaks. Memory leaks occur when a program fails to release memory back to the operating system after it’s done using it, which can lead to reduced performance or crashes. A restart can fix memory leaks by closing all running programs and starting fresh.

3. Terminates errant processes

Occasionally, a process, or set of instructions running on a device, can go rogue, hogging resources, and causing sluggish performance or crashes. Restarting can terminate errant processes, freeing up system resources and allowing the device to function properly once again.

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4. Cools down overheated hardware

Sun exposure, errant processes, or running processor-intensive programs can cause devices to overheat over time. Turning a device off allows it to cool down; ensure it’s significantly cooler to the touch before you turn it back on.

5. Re-establishes network connections

Connectivity issues can often be resolved by a restart, whether it’s internet connectivity or Bluetooth pairing. This action resets the network hardware in your device, which can also resolve IP conflicts and other networking and pairing-related issues.

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6. Re-initializes device drivers

A device’s driver facilitates communication between the hardware and the operating system. Sometimes, drivers may encounter issues or conflicts that hinder performance. Restarting re-initializes these drivers, allowing hardware and software to interact smoothly once more.

7. Resets the system state

Your device’s system state is its configuration, including the internal components, software, system settings, and memory, among other things. When everything is working properly, it’s in a “known good state.” Sometimes, a device may get into an undefined or unexpected state due to software bugs or hardware issues. Restarting resets the system state, bringing it back to a known good state.

8. Completes software updates

Many software updates require a restart to complete the installation process. This ensures that the updated code is loaded and executed properly.

9. Initiates diagnostic and self-healing capabilities

Some devices have built-in diagnostic and self-healing capabilities that are triggered during the startup process. Restarting allows these functions to identify and fix issues automatically.


While restarting your device may seem like lazy catch-all advice, it’s actually a potent troubleshooter and fixer. It addresses a multitude of potential issues ranging from memory management to network connectivity, making it the go-to first step for tech experts, like me.

[Image credit: Suzanne Kantra/Techlicious]

For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.

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