Why Tech Support Tells You To Wait 10 Seconds Before Rebooting Your Router

We've all heard it before when troubleshooting a router: unplug your router, wait 10 seconds and plug it back in. More often than not, this fixes whatever problem we have. But why is that? Superuser user Phoshi has an explanation.

Picture: Matt Newman

It turns out it's all about capacitors. Phoshi explains:

A lot of modern technology contains capacitors! These are like energy buckets, little batteries that fill up when you put a current through them, and discharge otherwise. 10 seconds is the time it takes most capacitors to discharge enough for the electronics they're powering to stop working. That's why when you turn your PC off at the wall, things like an LED on your motherboard take a few seconds to disappear. You probably could wait a different time, but 10 seconds is the shortest time you can be sure everything's discharged.

So it's all about capacitors. There's no magic trick involved where you have to wait exactly 10 seconds for the gremlins to disperse. Need a primer on exactly how capacitors work? Make has you covered.

Pulling the plug out for 10 seconds [Superuser via How-to Geek]


    I honestly thought this was common knowledge.

      What, like most Australian not knowing it takes about a year for the Earth to do a lap of the sun?

        We're doing WHAT now... ?!?!? I tell ya... the sooner we just build that Dyson sphere, the sooner we can end this holy war of pseudo science and astromanipulation and get on with solving the problem of how NOT to fall of the edge when sailing our oceans... that problem haunts my dreams at night.

        Actually that silly survey said the amount was 41% so saying "most Australians" is 100% wrong ;)
        "Many", but certainly not "most".

      I agree, I would assume most people would know this. The annoyance for me comes when people don't know this, have called customer service (one of my jobs) and then don't wait. What is the point in asking an "expert" and then refusing the advice?

      It's probably common knowledge amongst people who read this site, but do you really think it's common knowledge amongst the general population?

      I really hate it when people say "How could you not know X?!!" You're basically just assuming that every single person has an identical lived experience to yours.

      "How could you *not* know the cylinder firing order of a commodore VX?!"
      "How could you *not* know how to speak more than one language?!"
      "How could you *not* know how many inches in a yard?!"

      Think about it.

      It is common knowledge yes, but common is not quite universal hence posts like this are quite handy things. :)

    Me too..

    I absolutely CRINGE when I see people flicking electronics OFF and ON in under a second to reset. Anything electrical actually. It's like fingernails across a blackboard.

    Always always 10-30 seconds wait. And for if you really want to do a "reset" leave it to rest unpowered for +20 minutes... Another tip is to remove the power source from the wall, and/or battery, then turn the device back "ON" again to completely and quickly drain any remaining juice in the caps. Depending on the type of switch in the device though this may not be effective, but does no harm to try. Certainly for a router it's applicable... assuming your router HAS an on/off switch, which many do not :(

      Yeah, I tell my users to pull the plug out the back at wait twenty seconds for the faulty electrons to drain out the plughole. Many laugh, but a terrifying number ask 'Really?'

      Off and on in under a second to reset a device, or closing apps and clicking on the shortcut to open them again before the window they closed has even disappeared from the screen. This used to be a major issue with MS Outlook especially in 2007 and earlier versions which would take 5 seconds to a minute for the process to actually close after all visible windows had closed.

      "Ok, now we need to restart Outlook for those changes to apply so please close Outlook, wait 30 seconds, then re-open it. Ok, now please close outlook and wait thirty seconds. Ok, now please just close Outlook and do nothing more. No, no, we're just waiting. Ok, please close Outlook again and open task manager ... see that outlook.exe there? Yeah, that's what we're waiting for and it would have been gone 5 minutes ago if you had actually listened to my words rather than pretending to listen to them."

      Ahh, those were the days.

    if you unplug an xbox 360 from the wall and push the power button, it still makes the"on" noise before dieing, as Awnshegh said i thought this was common knowledge

    I switch it off, unplug it from the wall, carry it outside and place "Do Not Cross" police tape around it while protecting my family jewels with a lead-lined apron. After a few days I use barbecue tongs to bring it back inside. Electrons are dangerous peoples!

    Alternatively, if you can't wait 10 seconds just lick the capacitor to immediately discharge it into your tongue.

    One trick I've needed with my computer is removing all power sources / batteries and holding the power button for about 10 seconds, that would ensure its completely drained.

    Tech support told me to wait 10-20 minutes, they said I had a 'bad' IP address and hopefully over that ten minutes it'd be assigned to someone else and I would get a new, good, one.

    Shouldn't we be asking why manufacturers are writing such defective firmware that it can get into a state that requires a hard reset to recover in the first place?

      I've never owned an always-on electronics device that didn't require a power cycle every now and then. Nothing is perfect.

    Hmmm, this was something that I learnt over the years.

    From memory my gameboy's on light would slowly fade, my NDS made a pop sound when turned off after a few secs. I always just waited for it to fade before turning it on again.

      I learned about this from my Gameboy as well :) I never knew it was because of capacitors though. It's nice to have it explained properly.

    By "common" I assume people mean the 7 or 8 friends and colleagues from some sort of technically related work they hang around with.

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