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What Is Power Cycling?

What Is Power Cycling

Date First Published: 4th April 2024

Topic: Computer Systems

Subtopic: Computer Hardware

Article Type: Computer Terms & Definitions

Difficulty: Medium

Difficulty Level: 5/10

Learn about what power cycling is in this article.

Power cycling is the process of turning a device off and on again. It is a troubleshooting step used to fix a frozen or malfunctioning device. Depending on the device, manufacturers recommend leaving the device powered off for at least 10 to 30 seconds before turning it back on. Power cycling can either be done manually by using a switch on the device, automatically through another device or network monitoring system, or remotely through a communication channel.

Uses Of Power Cycling

Power cycling can resolve issues with electronic devices, such as frequent crashes or freezes. Although power cycling cannot resolve all issues, it flushes the RAM and clears up temporary processes and files. This gives it a fresh start and prevents too many processes from building up in the RAM over time.

Power cycling is useful for testing purposes. For example, servers stay on 24/7 without a reboot or disruption. Regular power cycles can reveal the amount of downtime that could occur after an unexpected shutdown.

For example, if a device becomes so unresponsive that it does not respond to any user input and has been completely frozen for an extended period of time, users can manually power cycle by holding down the power button switch for a few seconds, waiting 10 to 30 seconds after it has turned off, and then using the power switch to restart the system.

Users should be careful when suddenly power cycling a device because it clears the contents of the RAM, causing any unsaved work to be lost. Also, the device may take longer to start up again because it may perform extra hardware checks after an unexpected shutdown.


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