Have You Tried Rebooting?
Hi, my computer won't boot. Tech Support:
Have you tried rebooting it? Customer:
Umm... I can't do that because it doesn't boot in the first place. Tech Support:
Sir, if you want me to help you we're going to have to do this my way.
— Anecdotal call between a customer and tech support.
A novice was trying to fix a broken Lisp machine by turning the power off and on.
[Tom] Knight, seeing what the student was doing, spoke sternly: "You cannot fix a machine by just power-cycling it with no understanding of what is going wrong."
Knight turned the machine off and on.
The machine worked.
Whenever technology misbehaves, restarting or power cycling it usually solves the problem.
See also Cut the Juice
, the slightly more direct approach.
- In Jurassic Park after the computer system locks out the operators, it is suggested they try restarting it entirely.
- It's worth noting in that film it actually works, but it inadvertantly tripped the breaker switches, meaning that they had to flip the switches back on before the restart could proceed. And those switches are in a bunker on the other side of the complex. Outside. Where the dinosaurs are now running loose.
- Similar to Jurassic Park, in Mission to Mars, when the onboard computers on the ship malfunction after a meteor strike, the solution used is to power cycle them, forcing a hard boot. On systems that were too expensive to ever test such a thing on.
- Babylon 5: Done along with resetting the command codes as a precaution after the station seceded from the Earth Alliance. Unexpectedly, this caused a minor problem in the form of the activation of the station's dormant (and long-forgotten) AI. The station's dormant, long-forgotten, and very obnoxious AI — voiced by Harlan Ellison, in one of the show's more delightful Truth in Television moments — which they had to spend the rest of the episode disabling.
- The IT Crowd: "Hello, IT. Have you tried turning it off and on again?"
- The Big Bang Theory: Howard has a prototype robotic arm grabbing him by the... let's just say it's somewhere personal, and is sent to the hospital. The nurse asks if they tried turning the computer controlling the arm off and then on again, and while Howard loudly objects to the idea, the nurse does just that and the arm lets go.
- Hilariously, a simple system restore was the solution to a ship-threatening alien program in Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the future, we apparently won't remember the purpose of protected backup archives. It took Data doing the same thing as a natural function of his programming (Soong was Crazy-Prepared like that) to remind Geordi.
- Ridiculously, this was the solution to another ship-threatening problem in Star Trek: Enterprise. When Klingons sabotage the computer running the warp core, Trip restarts it to restore the computer to default settings. The ridiculous part is that the ship was stuck in MAXIMUM WARP at the time, and they were restarting the ENGINE. (The Enterprise's sister ship, Columbia, expanded its warp field to carry Enterprise during the restart.)
- Star Trek: Enterprise also finally revealed just how it was possible for Soong to be so Crazy-Prepared: his family had spent at least two centuries planning the androids, and at least some of them were really paranoid.
- Likewise, in one episode of Stargate Atlantis, they deal with a Wraith virus with a system reformat and reboot. Multiple times. The virus was very persistent and kept hiding in computers not connected to the main system but still wireless uplinked.
- Subverted in a skit in French and Saunders involving Jennifer's laptop freezing and Dawn repeatedly trying to fix it by suggesting that they "close it and open it again". After twenty minutes of trying everything, including a reboot, they simply close and open the lid and sure enough, it works again.
- The very first episode of Leverage has the crew sabotage a receptionist's computer and send in Elliot disguised as an IT tech. He asks the receptionist if she tried rebooting and Hardison (listening over the radio) proudly tells the others that he taught Elliot to do that.
- The Blues in Red vs. Blue have apparently used this technique a few times.
Church: Never mind. Just go back down there, and see if you can reboot Sheila.
Doc: Reboot her?
Tucker: Yeah dude, that's how you fix broken stuff. You turn her off, and then you turn her back on again. She'll be fine.
Doc: I don't think that'll work.
Church: Uh, pardon me, it works great. We already rebooted the toaster, we rebooted the teleporter...
Tucker: Yeah, I still don't know if that thing has all the bugs worked out.
Church: We even rebooted Caboose's armour once. Although, that took a lot longer to come back online than we thought it would.
Caboose: It was dark and I got to hold my breath. I'm pretty sure there was no side-effects.
- As with the movie, the Jurassic Park pinball has the "System Boot" mode, which requires the player to shoot Hammond's Bunker, Control Room, and the Power Shed to reboot the park's computer systems.
- Ben 10: Ultimate Alien: In the episode "Fused", Ben gets stuck as an Ampfibian and Kevin uses a machine to reboot the Ultimatrix.
- In Omniverse, Blukic and Driba (Genius Ditz, Those Two Guys) were where they weren't supposed to be when trouble started, one says that they should stay put and catch a ride back with Ben and Rook. The other strikes that idea down immediately; they'd be in some kind of trouble if they were found out, and he was not going back to tech support, telling people to turn their computers off and then on again.
- South Park: When the internet stops and plunges the world into chaos, Kyle travels to the center of the internet, where he finds that it's a giant router. He simply unplugs it and plugs it back in, and the internet is up and running again.
- ReBoot used this as a Deus ex Machina. The User restarting his computer restores Mainframe after a system crash.
- The Bullshit Man tries this on his printer when it won't print. It doesn't work.
- Reverse Jurassic Park:
Mr. Robustus: Oh well, this will be an easy fix. All I have to do is press the reset button!
Mr. Cabazai: Wait! What are you doing?!? *Power goes out* You do realize you just shut off the bloody juice to the human pen, right?
Mr. Robustus: Hmm... I did not know that.
- As demonstrated in the quote above, the first step in troubleshooting any computer problem is to restart the computer.
- This also applies to cable boxes, phones, and modems.
- And, surprisingly enough, my boiler.
- Let's face it, almost anything electrical has been repaired in this way at some point.
- Apollo 12 came very close to an abort when it was hit twice by lightning during launch, which resulted in the telemetry failure of the Command Module's computer entirely, giving both all three astronauts aboard and Mission Control blank screens. Flight Controller John Aaron remembered the pattern of system failure from a previous test and gave instruction on switching "SCE to Aux" which rebooted the telemetry data off of a backup power supply. For this Apollo 12 carried out the mission successfully, and John Aaron was given the highest unofficial award NASA has: being called a "Steely eyed missile man".
- It also proved the value of giving each stage of the Saturn V its own internal control computer. While the Command Module's nav system had no idea where the ship was (having been scrambled, but not damaged, by the surges of the strikes) the individual stage computers trundled away without difficulty and put the ship in orbit, where the crew was able to easily reset the nav system and proceed on schedule.