How often should you restart your smartphone or device?

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There was a quote which had been floating around the internet at one point: “Linux – because reboots are for hardware changes.“ The old quote, which spoke to the reliability of the Linux operating system while taking a friendly poke at other well-known operating systems, still holds some truth today. Many of our modern portable devices run on operating systems which, much like Linux, are based on Unix at their core. Unix is ugly, geeky stuff, but it’s reliable, and the modern mobile operating systems which trace their roots to Unix have been optimized for ease of use and attractiveness without sacrificing that reliability. Even the operating systems not based on Unix have come a long way toward stability.


There was a time when many devices and computers required frequent reboots to run smoothly, or smoothly as could be expected at the time. This rebooting became just common practice, something which was just part of life with that device, and as natural to us as walking, one foot in front of the other. Some of us haven’t yet broken the habit, but the truth is that our modern operating system driven devices have taken long strides and don’t require reboots often at all.


The smartphones, tablets, and computers of today are designed to run for extended periods without needing to be rebooted often. Modern operating systems are built to sleep when not in active use. This sleep mode is an efficient low-power consumption mode. Effectively, the device is on standby waiting for the next command but not doing much or consuming much power while it waits for us to use it again. And modern operating systems have become much more efficient at memory management. This is usually accomplished by killing off the oldest processes in memory. The oldest processes are usually the ones least likely to be needed again, and this type of memory management keeps the devices running smoothly while reducing power consumption. There was a time when reboots were needed clear ram memory, but for the most part that time has been left behind.


That said, while modern operating systems and smartphone operating systems are much more stable, requiring fewer reboots, applications are a primary part of their allure. These applications run on top of the operating system and don’t always behave as efficiently as the operating system itself. Applications which utilize memory inefficiently or otherwise slow down the the performance of the device, will sometimes lead to a situation where the best option is to reboot. Device manufacturers also install apps and their own user interface over the operating system which may not be as optimized for stability as the operating system itself. While these factors can create the occasional need to reboot the device, again, this need is rare. Most devices don’t require reboots more than once or twice per week.


If a device is running sluggishly or is unresponsive, it may be a symptom of another issue within the device. So a smartphone which requires frequent reboots in an effort to achieve smooth operation, or a smartphone which frequently hangs, becoming unresponsive, may require diagnostics and/or repair. Smart phone repairs aren’t typically something which can be performed by the user. Smartphone repairs require expertise, specialized equipment, and experience which guides the repair tech toward finding the cause of the trouble. The same is true of tablets and modern PCs. If frequent reboots are required, this might be a symptom of a larger problem.




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