How to Restart Anything

It will probably come as no surprise that restarting, sometimes called rebooting, your computer, as well as just about any other piece of technology, is very often the best first troubleshooting step when you're dealing with a problem.

In the "old days," it was common for computers and other machines to have restart buttons, making the power-off-power-on process pretty simple.

Today, however, with fewer and fewer buttons, and new technologies that keep a device in a hibernate, sleep, or other low-power modes, truly restarting something can be somewhat difficult.

While it may be tempting to unplug or remove the battery to power down a computer or device, this isn't often the best method of restarting and can even cause permanent damage!

Restart a Laptop, Netbook, or Tablet PC

Toshiba Satellite C55-B5298 laptop
Toshiba Satellite C55-B5298 laptop.

 Toshiba America, Inc.

Restarting a laptop, netbook, or tablet device is really no different than restarting a desktop computer.

You probably won't find a dedicated reset button on one of these mobile computers, but the same general suggestions and warnings apply.

If you're using Windows, follow the standard restart process from within Windows. The same goes for Linux, Chrome OS, etc.

As with a desktop computer, if you're out of other restart options, try holding down the power button to turn it off, and then turn the computer back on as you normally do.

If the tablet or laptop you're using has a removable battery, try removing it to power off the computer, but only after you've first unplugged the PC from the AC power.

Restart a Desktop PC

Restarting a desktop PC sounds easy enough. If you're familiar with classic desktop computers, like the behemoth pictured here, then you know that they often have dedicated restart buttons, usually right on the front of the computer case.

Even though the button is there, avoid restarting a computer with the reset or power button if at all possible.

Instead, follow the "restart" process that your version of Windows or Linux, or whatever operating system you happen to be running, has for doing that.

The desktop computer restart/reset button is a vestige of the MS-DOS days when it wasn't particularly dangerous to reboot a computer with an actual button. Fewer desktop PCs have restart buttons and we expect that trend to continue.

If you have no other option, using the restart button on the case, powering off and then back on the computer with the power button, or unplugging and plugging back in the PC, are all options. However, each runs the very real and potentially serious risk of corrupting files that you have open or that your operating system is currently using.

Restart a Mac

Photo of an Apple MacBook Air MD711LL/B laptop
Apple MacBook Air MD711LL/B. Apple Inc.

Restarting a Mac, similarly to restarting a Windows or Linux based computer, should be done from within Mac OS X if possible.

To restart a Mac, go to the Apple menu and then choose Restart​...

When Mac OS X runs into a serious problem and displays a black screen, called a kernel panic, you'll need to force a restart.

Restart an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch

Unlike with more traditional computers (above), the proper way to restart Apple's iOS devices is to use a hardware button and then, assuming certain things are working properly, to confirm with a slide action.

To restart an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, assuming it's running the latest version of Apple's software, is actually a turn-off-and-then-on, two-step process.

Just hold down the sleep/wake button on the top of the device until the slide to power off message appears. Do that, and then wait for the device to turn off. After it's off, hold down the sleep/wake button again to turn it back on.

If your Apple device is locked up and won't turn off, hold down both the sleep/wake button and home button at the same time, for several seconds. Once you see the Apple logo, you know that it's restarting.

Restart an Android Smartphone or Tablet

Android-based phones and tablets, like the Nexus made by Google, and devices from companies like HTC and Galaxy, all have pretty easy, albeit slightly hidden, restart and power-on-power-off methods.

In most versions of Android and on most devices, the best way to restart is by holding down the sleep/wake button until a small menu appears.

This menu differs from device to device but should have a Power off option which, when tapped, usually asks for a confirmation before actually turning off your device.

Once it powers off, just hold down the sleep/wake button again to power it back on.

Some Android devices have an actual restart option on this menu, making this process a little easier.

Many problems with an Android-based phone or tablet can be solved by restarting it.

Restart a Router or Modem (or Other Network Device)

Photo of a Linksys AC1200 Router (EA6350)
Linksys AC1200 Router (EA6350). Linksys

Routers and modems, the pieces of hardware that connect our home computers and phones to the Internet, very rarely have even a power button, and even more rarely a restart button.

With these devices, the best way to restart them is to simply unplug them, wait 30 seconds, and then plug them back in.

Restarting your network equipment, which usually means both your modem and router, is a great step to take when the Internet isn't working properly on all of your computers and devices.

This same procedure usually works for switches and other network hardware devices, like network hubs, access points, network bridges, etc.

The order you turn off your network devices isn't usually important, but the order you turn them back on is. The general rule is to turn things on from the outside in, which usually means the modem first, followed by the router.

Restart a Printer or Scanner

Photo of an HP Photosmart 7520 Wireless Color Photo Printer
HP Photosmart 7520 Wireless Color Photo Printer. HP

Restarting a printer or scanner used to be an easy task, and may still be depending on the device: just unplug it, wait a few seconds, and then plug it back in.

This works great for those less expensive printers. You know, the ones where the ink cartridge costs more than the printer itself.

More and more, however, we see modern, multifunction machines with features like large touchscreens and independent Internet connections.

While you'll certainly find more buttons and restarting capabilities on these advanced machines, they often just put the printer in a power-save mode instead of really turning it off and on.

When you need to fully restart one of these super-printers, your best bet is to power it off with the button or on-screen feature you're provided, but then also unplug it for 30 seconds, then plug it back in, and finally press the power button, assuming it hasn't powered on automatically.

Restart an eReader (Kindle, NOOK, Etc.)

Few if any eReader devices actually restart when you hit their power buttons or close their covers. They simply go to sleep, like most devices.

Truly restarting your Kindle, NOOK, or another electronic reader is a great step when something isn't working quite right or it's frozen on one page or menu screen.

Amazon Kindle devices have a software option for restarting, which makes sure your reading place, bookmarks, and other settings are saved prior to powering off.

Restart your Kindle by going to the Home screen, then Settings (from the Menu). Press the Menu button again and select Restart.

If this doesn't work, press or slide the Power button for 20 seconds and then release it, after which your Kindle will restart. You run the risk of losing your spot in your book when you restart this way but having this option is great when you need it.

NOOK devices are easy to restart as well. Just hold down the Power button for 20 seconds to turn it off. Once the NOOK is off, hold the same button down again for 2 seconds to turn it back on.