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Hard reboot

(also hard restart, cold reboot)

Hard reboot definition

A hard reboot is the process of restarting your device after its power has been completely switched off. A manual hard reboot will restart unresponsive devices and clear their working memory (RAM), but doing so will delete all of the user’s unsaved data.

Not all hard reboots are intentional — for example, the device may be forced to shut down due to a power outage.

Hard reboot vs soft reboot

Performing a hard reboot will result in the loss of unsaved data, so it should only be used as a last resort when a device becomes completely unresponsive. In all other cases, it is preferable to use a soft reboot — letting the device restart without shutting the power down. Initiating a soft reboot from your operating system’s interface lets the device save all your data before restarting.

Performing a hard reboot

  • Desktop devices: The simplest way to hard reboot a frozen desktop computer is to simply pull the power plug — most desktops do not have batteries and will shut down immediately. You may also perform a hard reboot by pressing and holding the device’s power button for 5-10 seconds.
  • Laptops: Most laptops will perform a hard reboot if the power button is pressed for 5-10 seconds. If that fails to initiate a hard reboot, simply remove the laptop’s battery and put it back in again.
  • Smartphones and tablets: Each smartphone and tablet model has its own way of initiating a hard reboot, typically by pressing the volume and power buttons together. You should refer to your device’s manual for further instructions.