What Is Warm and Cold Booting?

"Warm and cold booting" refers to cycling a computer on and off to troubleshoot freezes and other issues. Warm booting – clicking a reset command or pressing the CTRL, ALT and DELETE keys simultaneously – restarts the computer without disconnecting it from power. A cold boot – shutting the computer down using the power switch or by unplugging it from the electricity – completely resets the hardware and power source.

Which boot method you choose depends on what kind of problem you have. Warm boots may be the quickest way to close a frozen program so that the system can try to recover data and repair software. Cold boots are better for recovering from system crashes when the computer needs a complete reset. The Microsoft Corporation suggests using a cold boot to diagnose a hardware problem. After waiting ten seconds, restart the computer normally and watch as it starts up. If the problem is hardware-related, one or more components may fail as the system tests itself. The disadvantage of cold booting is that all temporary data is lost. Warm boots can clear software and network freezes but don’t necessarily restart all the computer’s components from scratch. Because a warm boot doesn’t include a full system check, users will have less down time.