Restart your smartphone

We explain how often you should restart your laptop, and how often you should restart your smartphone or tablet. How to use less power, and keep your laptop, PC, smartphone and tablet running well.

How often should you restart your smartphone?

The short answer is: not often at all. Smartphones are designed to remain on all the time, broadly speaking. After all, the idea of a 'mobile phone' is that you can always be contacted. (Smartphones are phones, remember?)

Of course you will need to restart your phone from time to time. You will need to restart to install OS updates, if you are lucky enough to get them. And on occasion if things are buggy and slow a restart will help. You could manually shut down processes and apps, and that may solve your problem, but restarting does this job and also frees up RAM. Usually that double whammy will solve any problems you are having with your phone.

As with any computational hardware, if your phone is suddenly running much hotter than usual it is worth trying a restart. But if you are experiencing any of these regularly, there may be something wrong with your smartphone. In general you shouldn't need to restart your smartphone very often at all. Certainly not more than once or twice a week, even when it is older.

Of course, how your device runs is only one part of the equation. Power draw is the other. Generally speaking restarting a smartphone will drain battery life, and switching off your phone overnight (and then restarting it) will use as much power as it takes to leave it on all the time. Smartphones and tablets are designed to go to sleep and draw very little power.

So restart only when you need to. (See all smartphone tips, and our list of the best smartphones of 2015.)

How often should you restart your tablet?

In essence, for ARM-based tablets such as iPads and Androids this is the same as with smartphones. Your tablet should be able to remain on pretty much all the time. Restart it if things are getting slow or buggy, or if you need to complete a software install. Other than that, let your tablet work and sleep as intended.

Things are different, although only slightly different, for x86 Windows tablets such as the Surface Pro range. These you should treat like Windows 8 laptops (advice on which can be found in the section below). You should restart an Intel or AMD tablet when you need to: when installing new software or after a security scan, or when the fans are whirring loudly or the device itself is hot. And, as above, if things are slow and buggy.

But Windows 8 (and Windows 10) is designed to draw virtually no power when in sleep mode. So even x86 Windows tablets are designed to be always on. You shouldn't need to keep restarting, and you should do it only when you need to. (See all tablet tips, and our list of the best tablets of 2015 UK.)

How often should you restart your laptop?

This depends on what platform you are running. If it is a Windows 8 (or Windows 10) laptop, you should restart only as often as you need. From time to time your laptop will slow down and a reboot will help speed things up. Windows updates and software installs will probably require a restart. And occasionally after security scans you may be asked to restart your PC.

And, if the fans are whirring loudly of your laptop is very hot, it may be time to reboot. The same is broadly true of recent MacBooks, by the way.

Things are slightly different with laptops running Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP. This is largely because of power draw. Windows 8 in sleep mode uses virtually no power. It certainly uses less power than it takes to shut down and boot up your laptop. So Windows 8 (and Windows 10) laptops are designed to stay on. Restart only as you need to, and that shouldn't be too often.

But older versions of Windows should probably be shut down at the end of every working day. This will mean you spend less on power, and should also protect the components, which are being asked to work a little whenever the laptop isn't shut down. (See all laptops tips, and our list of the best laptops of 2015 UK.)

Shut down PC

How often should you restart your PC?

Now let's consider desktop PCs. In essence, this is the same as the laptop world. You should restart if your PC is running hot and/or slow, or the fans are making a loud noise. And you will be prompted to restart whenever you install or update software.

When it comes to power draw, make the distinction between Windows 8 and Windows 7 (and older). Older PCs should be shut down daily, as they will draw power whenever they are on. Windows 8 and Windows 10 PCs can be left to go to sleep. (See all Windows tips.)