By John Carter

Hi Net Neighbors! Welcome to Tech Tuesday, where we take deep dives into the issues plaguing you. This week we continue our Basic Computer Troubleshooting series with a common issue…

My Computer Keeps Restarting

You’re sitting at your computer, working on the next great American novel and it happens, your computer restarts. Oh no! You’ve just lost hours of valuable prose. Surely a virus must have stricken you!

First of all, take a breath. Most word processors save your work automatically. If you are using Word, Google Docs, or Apple Pages at most you have lost 15 minutes worth of content. Less if the system saves changes as you make them.


It’s Probably Not a Virus

Wait, what? But isn’t it always a virus?

Not really, viruses usually want your computer to keep working. If your computer stops working how can you spread the virus? No, when your computer keeps resetting on you there are usually reasons other than a digital cold. One in particular is especially timely given that we are now in the midst of a Florida Summer.

Your Computer is Probably Overheating

Heat is the bane of any digital device, be it a phone or computer. When these devices get too hot they are often programed to turn off in order to save itself. So, if your device keeps turning off then maybe it is getting too hot.

A way to check this is to just check around your machine. If you have a traditional tower-based desktop and you have stacked a lot of stuff on and around it, you might be blocking the airflow to your machine. Also, check the vents. If they are covered in dust, then use a vacuum cleaner. If you are really comfortable with taking apart your computer, then pull the case off and vacuum the inside. Be sure to turn your computer off before you do this though, otherwise you run the risk of shorting something out.

You can also place a fan facing the tower to force more cool air to run over it. I am doing that right now as I write this, and my computer stays well in expected ranges.

For laptop owners simply raising your computer off the desk by an inch or two can do wonders for heat removal. You can also get a stand for your laptop that has fans built into it. They tend to be inexpensive and can add years to your computer’s life.

Are You Running Updates?

As we have covered before, computers can often be fixed by shutting down and turning it back on. This is because the restart cycle has a series of tools built in designed to fix common errors. These tools are also at work when you install system updates.

When you install updates to your computer, especially a Windows computer, your machine may turn off and turn on again several times. Each time it does so the machine is installing an update, running the error tools to ensure everything is working right, then installing the next update. This process can take a few moments or several hours depending on more factors than we can address here. Either way, if you started the install process sit back and wait. Don’t try to do anything with your computer until you are sure it is done.

Could Drivers be Malfunctioning?

Remember drivers? Those instructions your computers use to do everything? As we saw last time, sometimes these drivers can become corrupted or out of date and start interfering with your use of the computer. When this corruption hits an especially vital part of your computer the internal defenses can trigger a shut down to protect itself and fix the problem. This usually happens when you are asking too much of the computer at once and it metaphorically throws its hands in the air.

A good way to know whether your problem is driver related or something else is to keep track of when your computer shuts down. Does it shut down every time you open a specific program? If so, then you probably need to update the program to remove any issues. Does it shut down whenever you plug in, or access, a particular device? If so, then you probably need to update the drivers for said device.

Anything else?

On this topic, not really. While there can be other reasons your computer keeps restarting these are the basics and the ones you can fix rather easily. If, after taking these steps, you still have the problems then I recommend taking your machine to a professional as there may be a deeper issue. And while that sounds ominous, remember there can be issues with your car that might take you hours or days to figure out but a trained professional can solve it quickly. The same is true for computers.

Next time, we will be looking at another common computer complaint; My Computer is Slowing Down.

Until then, have fun, find adventure, and stay safe.

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