How to Manually Reboot a Computer

Whether you have a new or used computer, freezing and crashing can be a common occurrence. Regardless of if you’re using an outdated or the latest version of Windows or MacOS, it can be very frustrating dealing with unexpected glitches.

If your mouse won’t move and you can’t navigate to the restart button in the startup menu, a hard reboot done manually may be the best option.

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What is a Manual Reboot?

A hard or manual reboot is a method to restart your computer without using software. It means physically rebooting using any other method than selecting the restart button within your computer’s operating system.

Ultimately, it allows the ability to turn it off and turn it on again when software or the operating system freezes up.

Steps to Manually Reboot a Computer

Also known as a hard or cold restart, it relies on manual intervention but should only take a few minutes. Here’s how to perform a manual reboot:

Step One

Locate the power button on your computer. Press and hold the button down for about 5 seconds, or until the computer’s power is noticeably off. The monitor will go black and may flicker. It may even display a message notifying you that there’s no signal being received.

Regardless, you should hear the computer’s cooling fans and power supply shut off. Ultimately, it will be much quieter and seem relatively obvious that it’s no longer turned on.

Step Two

Wait for about 30-45 seconds. Now that the computer is turned off, waiting a short-time will ensure that the internal components such as the power supply, motherboard and CPU are no longer functioning. If you don’t wait and attempt to quickly turn it back on, it may significantly damage or shorten the lifespan of your computer.

Step Three

Press the power button. This will boot-up the computer just as it normally does when pressed. However, once turned back on, the computer may display a warning message indicating that it shut down unexpectedly. Don’t worry too-much about these errors as they are typically meant to deter future hard reboots. But sometimes you have no other choice but to manually reboot in this manner.

Step Four

Perform a proper restart via the computer’s operating system. Once your system is fully loaded after the manual reboot you just performed, it’s best to restart the computer one more time since it’s no longer frozen. In Windows, simply navigate to the start button; click on it at the bottom left corner of the screen. Then, press the “Power” icon and select “Restart.” For Mac users, simply select the Apple menu on the desktop task bar and select “Restart.” This process is the same regardless of if you’re using a laptop or desktop computer.

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Is a Manual Reboot Bad For My Computer?

Manually performing a hard reboot isn’t necessarily bad for your computer. However, it can be if you do it too fast or too often. Take your time and only do it if it’s your last resort. Unsaved documents can be lost and incomplete installations can cause file corruption that may be to blame for any new issues that occur after the manual reboot is performed.

While it’s ideal to restart via the operating system, don’t worry too much if you must manually reboot; sometimes there’s no other choice.

Forcefully powering off any electronics, especially computers, can be rough on the internal components. While unexpected freezing or lock-ups can happen, they can be very frustrating. Take a deep breath, take your time and try a manual restart. It may be the best course of action to take given the specific situation.

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What to Try Before a Manual Reboot

While it may be easy and convenient to manually reboot, you should first check to see if specific software is causing it to crash, lock-up or freeze out of nowhere. Give your computer some time to process, it may “wake back up” on its own.

If you’d like to troubleshoot, you may want to examine what’s going on behind the scenes. Windows users can press “CTRL, ALT, DEL” simultaneously to bring up the task manager. Mac users can press “CMD, ALT, ESC” to bring up a similar window. Here, you can see specific software or processes that may be taking up all or most of the computer’s resources.

If you see an app or background process that’s allocating a large percentage from the CPU, Memory, Disk, Network or GPU, it may be the culprit and the sole reason why your computer froze in the first place.

However, keep in mind that even the list of programs and processes may not even be accessible when the computer is frozen. These keyboard shortcuts may not even work. Depending on the scenario, your mouse and keyboard may not work whatsoever. If so, a manual reboot is needed.

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