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Customer: 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.

Examples of Have You Tried Rebooting include:


Film

  • In Jurassic Park after the computer system locks out the operators, it is suggested they try restarting it entirely.

Live-Action TV

  • 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, 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.
  • Likewise, in one episode of Stargate Atlantis, they deal with a Wraith virus by rebooting the whole spaceship. Multiple times.
    • Actually it was the equivalent of several reformatting attempts as all systems data was erased and replaced with backups in an attempt to erase the virus.

Machinima

  • 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.

Western Animation

  • Ben 10: Ultimate Alien: In the episode "Fused", Ben gets stuck as an Ampfibian and Kevin uses a machine to reboot the Ultimatrix.
  • 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.
  • Re Boot used this as a Deus Ex Machina. The User restarting his computer restores Mainframe after a system crash.

Web Comics

Real Life

  • 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.
  • 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".
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