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Here are some examples of when you might need to reboot your computer and why they work.

If your computer is “frozen” or “locked up”, rebooting can fix this.  One concern here is the possibility of data loss. When your computer is no longer responding, any unsaved data was already beyond salvage at that point. Doing regular back-ups of your important data will minimize your loss in the event of a computer “freeze”.

If an individual program stops working (such as Internet Explorer, Outlook, etc.), but you can still navigate the rest of your computer, rebooting can correct this. Computer programs can generate fatal errors for a variety of reasons, causing them to crash. Sometimes they close on their own, or simply stop responding.  Sometimes a “crashed” program will not start back up. Rebooting can free up resources that were previously locked or lost, allowing normal operation again.

Rebooting is an important tool in the troubleshooting process as well. Sometimes, in order to discover the cause of an issue, we have to attempt to recreate the problem starting from the beginning when your computer restarts.