How to Completely Reboot Your Computer

Techwalla may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Image Credit: faithiecannoise/iStock/GettyImages

While it may be more convenient to leave your computer turned on or to use the sleep function, doing so for extended periods of time may lead to system issues later down the line. Occasionally you need to shut down your computer, and even more frequently, you may need to reboot it.


Because your computer often uses a reboot to install system updates, ensure that new programs are properly installed, work with your computer's hardware, and clear out unnecessary system files, it's important to know how to reboot your computer properly. Fortunately, it's easy for anyone to learn how to reboot a computer. With a couple of clicks, you'll understand the process in no time at all.

Video of the Day

How to Reboot a Computer Properly

There are two primary methods to reboot a computer. These methods are usually referred to as "soft" reboots and "hard" reboots. To best maintain your computer's integrity and minimize the risk of problems, you should only use soft reboots. These are reboots that are initiated through a software command that gives your computer time to close programs, end system processes, and carry out its routine shutdown procedures.


In contrast, a hard reboot is initiated through the computer's hardware, either by holding down the power button or by unplugging it from the battery or power outlet. When you use a hard reboot, a computer is not given time to prepare for the restart, which can lead to system errors and, in some circumstances, hardware problems caused when the power cuts off unexpectedly. While hard reboots must be used when a computer has frozen, they should be avoided whenever possible.

Rebooting Windows Computers

To initiate a soft reboot on a computer running a Windows operating system, open the Start menu by either clicking the Windows logo at the bottom of the screen or by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard. Click the power icon or the "Shut down" option and then select "Restart." Your computer then proceeds to reboot, installing any updates that are queued up.


Rebooting Mac Computers

Initiating a soft reboot on a Mac computer is even more simple: Click the Apple icon at the top left corner of the menu bar and select "Restart" from the drop-down menu. With most Macs, you can also press and hold the power button on the keyboard, but this is the equivalent of a hard restart, so it isn't the preferred method. Either way, your computer will then proceed to reboot itself.