If you have ever watched “The IT Crowd”, you’ll recognise the title of this post. For those who don’t know what on earth I’m talking about, it’s a often funny but largely ridiculous British sitcom about the shenanigans of the IT department of a fictitious company. The main character, IT geek Roy, often answers his phone with the above catchphrase – in one episode going as far as setting up a recorded message that simply gives that instruction and automatically hangs up.
But why am I telling you this? Because Roy’s throwaway one-liner does raise an interesting point. A reasonable proportion of support calls we receive that involve the computer not performing as it should, or showing an unexpected error, are quite often solved simply by shutting down the computer properly and restarting it. This is especially the case where the computer is generally left running 24/7.
Why? Basically when a Windows computer has been left running for a long time, and especially if a number of different software programs have been opened, it will have difficulty maintaining its system resources in good order. As programs are opened they take up memory space and call on specific functions of the computer to work. Later as each program is closed, it might not entirely release the resources it has been using, or memory that it was using might not be freed up entirely.
If a computer is running for an extended period of time and this process is repeated time and again, eventually the system slows down and no longer functions as efficiently as it should. You may have noticed that your computer runs slower if you have been operating it for a whole day performing a variety of tasks. That is why we recommend restarting the computer regularly – preferably daily, but at the very least weekly.
Warning! Always make sure you close down open programs properly before restarting. Resetting a computer with documents and files unsaved or databases open can cause a loss of data, and even file corruption.
Even if your computer freezes or a window displays ‘Not Responding’ for a period of time, be patient… it could just be slow due to an overload of resources and have temporarily stopped responding to your input. Resetting the computer using the Reset or On/Off button should be an absolute last resort! So shutting down all of the programs you have running and restarting your computer allows it to allocate its memory afresh, restore system resources and save files more efficiently.
Yes, if your computer has been on for more than a day or two, starts to slow down, and then throws an unusual error at you – remember Roy!
“Hello, IT, have you tried turning it off and on again?”