One of the simplest fixes to many computer issues is just to reboot your machine. It’s the first troubleshooting step we recommend on many issues (and this is true with many electronic devices, not just computers). While it frequently fixes issues with your computer, the bigger question is to why does it fix those issues? There could be a few reasons.
Updates Need to Be Installed: Many applications and system processes will install patches and updates in the background. While most of those processes are decent about notifying you when a reboot is needed, sometimes you’re not notified or the tools don’t think a reboot is needed. But honestly, if you’re patching any sort of system files or applications that you use on a regular basis, a reboot is never a bad idea (whether the programs tell you need to reboot or not). This way it’s far more likely that the patches are fully installed and working properly and no system files were locked that weren’t able to be fully patched.
Tied Up Resources: Even if you don’t think you’re running a lot of applications, some apps just like to use up and tie up a lot of system resources (processor, RAM, network traffic, etc…) no matter what you’re doing with them (we’re looking at you, Teams, but that’s supposed to get better soon). Some apps will continue to use system resources even after you thought you’ve closed them out. A reboot will kill everything and start over from scratch to give applications a blank slate to work with.
A Memory Reset: Similarly, sometimes (especially in low-memory systems) will compete for the same bits of RAM in your system, or programs will be occupying fragmented parts of your systems memory trying to find some free space. A reboot flushes everything out there of, including remnants in memory from old programs, to get things running smoothly again.
Cleans Things Up: Programs and operating systems that have been running for a long time will use all sorts of system resources. They may create temporary files, load data into system cache or RAM, load a bunch of processes, etc… . Sometimes one of those things happens slightly wrong and while it’s not causing any major issues, something in the background could be slowly going wonky and instead causing minor slowdowns and irritating issues. A reboot gives the programs full start, cleans things and kills any background processes and cache issues that may be occurring.
So what’s the moral of the story? If your system is acting wonky, start with a reboot.