Have You Tried Turning It Off and On Again?

July 11, 2019

Back in January 2017 we produced a blog called ‘Have you tried turning it off…….’ The blog post detailed why rebooting your machine is the first thing that an IT Engineer will often ask you to do when you report and issue.

Indeed, if possible, we recommend doing this BEFORE calling support. Obviously if an issue keeps happening we’ll need to do some further investigation, but an isolated incident CAN be fixed with a simple shut down and restart.

And because the message remains relevant, and is applicable to tablets, phones, laptops, desktops even servers, routers and firewalls, it is worth repeating.

So, Have You Tried Turning It Off and On Again?

It’s the statement made famous by the Channel 4 show ‘The IT Crowd’ and repeated every time you say that you work for an IT Support company! We may say it in many different ways ‘can you reboot?’ ‘could you power down the machine?’ or ‘have you tried re-configuring the primary power coupling’. They all mean the same thing!

Image showing two ways of saying turn it off and back on again

The thing is it actually works quite a lot of the time, which is why ‘have you tried turning it off and on again’ may well be what an IT Support engineer asks you to do.

But why? What does it actually do?

The answer is reasonably simple. In basic terms a reboot wipes the temporarily stored data from the computer. This will often include whatever is causing the problem. Shutting down and restarting returns the computer to a ‘clean’ state.

Want to get a bit more technical? Here comes the science bit………….

Electronic devices are state based machines, as in they start at one state and go to the next in steps. Programs work the same way (code is sequential and logic based). Restarting an electronic device gives it “a fresh state” and re-initialises the device, resetting it back to the initial state.

If you can’t sleep you could watch this introduction to finite state machines on YouTube but it’s dull so I wouldn’t bother.

Electronic devices, especially those with software, can run many programs at once. If one program gets “buggy” or if two conflicting commands are going to a device at once, it can cause “issues.” Troubleshooting these issues without restarting the device would take an expert. Rebooting the device is something anyone can do, and it is likely to be the first thing an expert would do as well.

Unplug it and walk away

You’ve also probably heard you’re supposed to unplug and wait a few minutes before booting back up. There’s a good reason for that, too.

Basically, this ensures the machine is completely off, since even after you’ve flipped the switch, power may still be circulating from the capacitor (the component that regulates the flow of power from the outlet). Things don’t reset until it’s depleted completely.

It’s still not working……….

Of course a reboot will only do so much. It may fix your immediate problem, but not the underlying cause. That’s why we’ll always ask someone to call back if the problem happens again. And this time we’ll not ask have you tried turning it off and on again! What we will do is look for the underlying problem that is causing the computer to run slowly or freeze.

How We Can Help

If you’re having problems with your IT infrastructure that you can’t fix yourself then it may be time to look at IT Support. Your IT Department provide Fully Managed IT Support acting as an outsourced but fully integrated IT Department for our clients.

Our aim improve the performance of our client’s IT systems, reduce owner and staff stress, increase efficiency in business, provide flexibility and instant scalability and make the client more productive. All this comes at a fixed monthly cost with no nasty surprises!

For a no obligation review of your current IT systems call us today on 0115 8220200 or complete the contact form on the website.

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