Why is my <insert device name here> slow? And why does turning it off and on help?

If you have experienced a problem with any sort of technology you might be asked:

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

Joking aside…while this may seem like a low tech solution there are good reasons why this works.

The real answer will be specific to the type of device. For an example, let us take a modem (the thing you use to connect to the internet) with the symptom of slow internet access.

Reason 1: Poor Cooling

When a device is being made to work constantly at a high level (streaming a movie, playing a game, etc) the processor will produce more heat. If there is insufficient cooling the device will begin to throttle processing power to prevent damage occurring. As the processor slows, so does your internet connection.

When you turn the device off and leave and leave it for a few minutes before turning it back on the heat will have dissipated enough to allow the CPU to run at full speed again… at least until it heats up again.

Reason 2: Poorly Written Firmware

Firmware is code that is used to manage the operation of a device. If the firmware is poorly written, problems including memory leaks and improper session handling can occur. The result of this is that too much old information is stored causing the firmware to run outside of its limits.

When you reboot a device its memory is cleared and any required information (that may have been accidentally overwritten) is loaded afresh.