How to Reboot a Computer

Properly Reboot a Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, or XP Computer

A picture of the power button on a computer
© Martin Hospach/Getty Images

Did you know that there's a right way, and several wrong ways, to reboot (restart) a computer? It's not an ethical dilemma - one method ensures that problems don't happen and a myriad of others are risky, at best.

You certainly could reboot your computer by powering it off and on, swapping out the AC power or battery, or hitting the reset button, but each of those methods is a bit of a "surprise" to your computer's operating system.

The result of that surprise could be nothing if you're lucky, but more likely it could cause issues from file corruption up to the very serious problem of a computer that won't even start!

You're probably restarting your computer to fix a problem, so be sure you're doing it the right way so you don't end up creating another one.

How to Reboot a Computer

To safely restart a Windows computer, you can usually tap or click on the Start button and then choose the Restart option.

As strange as it may sound, the exact method of restarting differs quite a bit between some versions of Windows. Here are detailed tutorials, plus tips on some alternative, but equally safe, ways of restarting:

See What Version of Windows Do I Have? if you're not sure which of those several versions of Windows is installed on your computer.

Note: It's not just Windows computers that should but restarted in a certain way to avoid causing issues. See How to Restart Anything for help rebooting all kinds of technology like iOS devices, smartphones, routers, printers, eReaders, and more.

Important: Be very careful if you see the option to reset something.

Restarting, also known as rebooting, is also sometimes called resetting. However, the term resetting is also often used synonymously with a factory reset, meaning a complete wipe-and-reinstall of a system, something very different than a restart and not something you want to take lightly.