How To Reboot Computer: Understanding the Different Options

by Rod Dunne on November 29, 2010

in Articles, Performance

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Understanding how to reboot computer systems in different ways can prove useful for resolving software corruption and virus damage on your PC. Here, we’ll take a look at using different reboot methods along with computer maintenance programs in order to resolve a number of PC issues.

How to reboot your computer: Soft/hard reboot

Rebooting computer systems by selecting shutdown/restart from the Start menu or ctrl-alt-delete option will perform what is called a soft reboot. This gives the operating system programs and any running applications the opportunity to shut down cleanly, saving any data or open files to the hard drive before the system is powered down.

The soft reboot can prove effective for clearing out RAM memory that may be getting held by buggy software applications (e.g. with a threading issue). The reboot will initialize applications once more using the stored registry settings so may also repair faults due to temporary key changes.

By contrast, you may need to hard reboot computer systems by pressing in the power button (for 5-10 seconds) in order to force a shutdown. This may be necessary if the PC freezes and you are unable to operate the mouse/keyboard.

This does allow you to reboot your computer but may result in some data loss if files are being stored to disk at the time of shutdown. You may also experience application issues if they were in the process of changing registry settings.

How to reboot computer systems in safe mode

It can prove useful to reboot your computer in safe mode by choosing this option from the Windows advanced options menu (found by hitting the F8 key as Windows starts up).

Windows safe mode reduces the amount of services and background applications that are initialized so can prove to be invaluable for starting the system if one of these services has been corrupted or a running virus is stopping you from doing an anti-virus scan.

The key however is to start the system in safe mode, use your computer maintenance programs (e.g. anti-virus applications, registry cleaners, etc) and then restart the system in regular mode once again. Running the system in safe mode is only intended as a temporary stopgap solution.

How to reboot computer devices using a last known good configuration

Finally, rebooting computer systems using earlier snapshots of operating system programs and the Windows registry is an effective way of working around any damage that has been caused to these critical system files. Windows provides the System Restore utility (accessories > system tools) for doing this when Windows is up and running, but you can also access a recent snapshot using the last known good configuration.

The last known good configuration can be accessed by using the F8 key as the system reboots (to access the OS advanced options). This will use the most recent snapshot, which was most likely saved when Windows update service was last run and patches were installed. This can prove quite effective if you are experiencing PC freezes that are due to OS file corruption.

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