Reboot and reset- we hear these two words all the time when dealing with technology. To the non-techie ear, they may even sound synonymous. Whether you’re having trouble connecting to the wifi, getting your email on your iPad, or playing a show on your Roku, one common solution is- reboot the device. The popular Britcom The IT Crowd features the now infamous greeting “Hello IT, have you tried turning it off and on again?”
But that is exactly where the confusion lies. Devices like cable modems and routers typically have a reset button but not a reboot button. Have you ever wondered why the reset button is deeply recessed and requires a pen or similar implement to hit? That’s because it wasn’t intended to be used for everyday trouble shooting.
Rebooting the device is all that is required 99.9% of the time. “But how do I reboot the device?” you ask. The same way you boot the device. To boot a device means to turn it on. So, to reboot the device simply means to turn it off and then after a brief pause turn it back on again. When you’re specifically dealing with modems and routers this means to disconnect the electricity to the device and then after a brief pause (slowly count to 60) reconnect it.
Sometimes there’s a lot of cables and cords connected to a modem or router. The temptation may be to unhook them all- which can lead to other problems. The simplest way to circumvent this is to plug the modem or router in to a power strip with a power switch. Then you just flip the switch to power cycle it. However, if you don’t have a power strip you can simply follow the cord back to the power outlet and unplug/plug that cord from the back of the device.
Back to that reset button. What would it be used for? Think of it as the “factory reset” button. In the case modems or routers leased from HCC you would never need to use the reset button. HCC would only use the reset button once the device was returned to us to wipe the unique user settings that allowed it to provide your internet service.
If you’re talking about devices like phones, tablets, media streaming devices (Rokus, Fire TV, etc) you’ll still want to reboot the device for everyday trouble shooting. All devices occasionally get system updates. These updates can sometimes cause the device to act glitchy until they’ve been… rebooted. Some system updated even require that a reboot be performed (ever notice how Windows does this). In some extreme cases, like malware or overfull storage, you may want to perform a factory reset to get a clean slate. However, these are very rare, and you may want to get the advice of a professional. You can always call HCC technical support for a second opinion.
The take away is that rebooting is your friend and is the correct trouble shooting step 99.9% of the time. It just means to power down the device, giving it a chance to clear any errors, and then power it back on again, and reconnect to the network. Which is basically what Chris O’Dowd was saying in his flippant tagline “Hello IT, have you tried turning it off and on again”.