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Will a hard reset damage my computer?

Will a hard reset damage my computer?

Will a hard reset damage my computer?

ask a computer player

Ask PC Gamer is our weekly question and advice column. Questions about smoke coming out of your PC? Send your questions to letter@pcgamer.com.

Sometimes, when the screen freezes or crashes, the only possible solution is a hard reset (hold down the power button until the PC shuts down). But when I do, I always cringe. It felt like letting go of my loyal and innocent dog. So my question is: does this really cause problems if done too often? Thanks and greetings from Germany. —Christoph

Hello Christophe! My advice is not just to press the power button, but laugh and shout “I’m the king of electricity” at your computer. It needs to know you are in charge or it won’t respect you.

I guess the latter stuff is optional, but I mean don’t worry and also a lot of. You don’t want to get into the habit of hard shutdowns, but if your computer freezes (which is your bigger problem), what other options do you have? Sometimes it’s the only way, and it’s unlikely to damage your hardware.

All the reading I’ve done on the topic suggests that the worst thing that can happen is that while Windows is busy writing fine data, you’ll hit the power button, which could damage the OS and require you to repair or restart Install Windows. This wouldn’t be a surprising result if you habitually bypass Windows’ shutdown procedure while the program is busy modifying the registry, but it sounds like a hard reset is your last resort. With the amount of mess I have on my PC, reinstalling Windows has become fairly common for me, although I’m sure you want to avoid it.

As for hardware damage, I’m not worried. Some sources say a hard shutdown can cause the hard drive’s read/write head to stop or hit the platter, potentially causing irreversible damage. I don’t know what ancient PC they were using, but modern hard drives automatically park their heads after a power outage. From Scott Mueller’s Upgrading and Repairing PC 16th Edition: “On drives with voice coil actuators, you can activate the parking mechanism by turning off the computer; you don’t need to run a program to park or retract the heads, which is Early hard drive designs. In the event of a power outage, the heads would automatically park.”

The only way I can destroy the hard drive is to discard this thing. I am clumsy. Don’t be like me. Even more dangerous than a power outage are power fluctuations, which can happen during a power outage or lightning storm or whatever, so make sure you’re using a good surge protector. Also, first try to find out why your PC is freezing. This may be an existing hardware problem.

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Wilbert Wood
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