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Reboot Your Thinking About Restarts

Restarting your Windows-based computer clears out a lot of electronic junk and improves performance. The only problem is that you may not be restarting – or rebooting – your computer when think you are. We had one client go 73 days without performing an actual restart on a computer, which meant we needed a lot of time to clear out all the junk and reset the system.

One of the most common misconceptions we’ve found about restarting is that people think that simply turning on a computer after it’s been sleeping is a restart. To human logic, that makes good sense. To a modern computer, it’s all wrong. When you select the “sleep” option to close a session at your computer, you’re putting it into a state of hibernation. Your PC will seem like it’s completely off, but it saves a hibernation file to boot back to where you were before going to sleep.

When you tap your keyboard to wake up your computer, you’re using Microsoft’s “fast startup” feature to launch the hibernation file that essentially restores your system to where it was before going to sleep. The combination of sleep and fast startup get you up and running faster to use your computer, and it also helps various software and hardware vendors update your system while it’s not in use. Whatever electronic junk your computer has been holding is still there.

Fast startup also helps your computer get up and running faster from a complete shutdown. In a sense, shutting down your computer puts it into a stage of hibernation if fast startup is enabled, so you’re not getting a complete restart, which is necessary for clearing out the electronic junk. In our experience, fast startup is the root of all evil in a lot of problems we’re finding that can be solved by a restart.

All of this leaves you with two options. The first is simple: restart your computer once a week. It’s sort of like flossing your teeth; it’s another thing to remember, and it’s time-consuming. But it will keep your system clean and maintain a higher level of performance. To restart make sure you have saved all work files and application settings by properly closing out of everything. Then, just click the Windows icon at the bottom of your screen, click the power icon and click Restart.

The other option is to disable fast start. You can do that by doing a search for Control Panel, and then clicking on Power Options. On the left side of your screen, click on “Choose what the power buttons do.” Then, uncheck “Turn on fast startup.” Doing that will give you a complete restart when you power up from a shutdown. It can also be helpful when working with a speedy solid-state drive (SSD).

Along with restarts from a shutdown, we’ve found that clients using a laptop as a second computer have another set of problems. When their computers are out of action for an extended period of time, the startup routine when they power on induces a search for all sorts of system and application updates. In the case of Windows updates, the computer looks at when the last update was installed and then initiates a sequence of consecutive updates. That’s necessary because unless Microsoft issues a Service Pack that consolidates several updates, the latest update is typically an addition to a previous update. If you missed three updates, for example, your computer goes back to the first of that sequence and goes through three update procedures.

That entire process can take up a lot of time, and we usually get a call in the middle of it all because it seems like the computer isn’t functioning properly. The easiest way to solve that problem is to turn a computer once a week. It will look for updates as part of its boot-up, and the need to download and install only one Windows update or just a few recent updates for apps will get your second computer operational faster.

Just remember, though, if you’ve turned off the “fast startup” feature for a computer that’s been powered down, you’ll need to make sure you check for updates.

If you have any questions about restarts and power-ups, call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us. We can walk you through the process to set up the options that will be best for you or work with you remotely to set them up.