How Often Should You Reboot Your Computer?

How Often Should You Reboot Your Computer?
Screenshot: David Murphy, Apple

It’s probably the first thing you try when your computer is acting up: turn it off and back on again. But should you restart or shut down? Well that actually depends on what kind of computer you are using. Shutting down your computer will close out of all the programs you’ve been running and clear the cache, so that when you power back up, the machine is running fresh, as there may have been something in the background that was causing it to move sluggishly (or worse).

On a Mac, the restart and shut down functions do the same thing, so restart if you need to continue working right away, and shut down if you are going away from the computer for a while. However, on a PC, things work a little differently. Windows machines now come with “fast startup,” which actually keeps some operations from shutting down fully. We recommend toggling this off so that the computer will fully shut down. Restarting on a PC is also not the same as a full shut down, so if your system isn’t running properly, you’ll want to make sure to fully turn it off and then back on.

Since a reboot will close out all active programs, it’s good to do it at least once a week to keep everything running smoothly. If you are concerned about energy use, you can shut your machine down every night when you go to bed, but you will have to balance out the small amount of power savings with the amount of time to start back up each morning.

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