WHY A REBOOT WORKS
There’s a reason why turning your computer off and then back on fixes a lot of problems. It’s why it’s almost always the first thing we ask when troubleshooting. But why is that? There is a very technical explanation but here’s a simple analogy that should help make sense as to why you should try turning your computer or phone off and then back on when you encounter a problem.
Imagine you’re working in a warehouse and your entire job is to sort incoming letters into separate piles. Your job is to look at the first digit in the house number, and add it to a pile depending on what digit it is.
Sounds simple enough, right? It’s not a job you’ll make a mistake doing, much like a computer. But it can still go wrong. Say someone’s running a mail-in competition and you suddenly get 66,000 letters all addressed to 101 Easy St. You obediently pile them all up together, but eventually, you find the entire stack falls over. All of your other stacks (and possibly some neighboring stacks) get messed up as a result, and when this happens things get disrupted elsewhere too.
Another example. You pick up a letter addressed to the Prime Minister. There’s no house number for that, so where does it go? You might add it to a new pile and call it “P”, since letters can feasibly be considered digits, right? But now the table in front of you isn’t big enough, and you end up having to use the table belonging to the person next to you because nobody anticipated you needing a “P” pile. This disrupts the person next to you, which is likely to affect an entire row of desks and workers, again causing massive disruption.
When things like this happen in a computer, where a simple mistake cascades and your system becomes slow and unresponsive, you need to stop working, because the situation will just get worse if you try and continue. So you clear all the desks, close all the open files and start your system again from the beginning. You’ll lose some work in progress, but the letters that already made it through the warehouse will be fine. This is basically the best outcome you can manage.
So in short, whenever you reboot your computer or phone, you’re essentially letting them take a breather and start fresh. This means that they’re more likely to get through the tasks asked of them.