What Is a Warm Boot?

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  • Written By: Nychole Price
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2019
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A warm boot, also called a soft boot, is the process of restarting a computer without actually turning the computer off. It is usually performed when there is a problem such as a frozen computer program or a web page is not responding. Warm boots erase everything in the RAM then restart the computer while it is still turned on. There are a couple of different ways to perform a soft boot.

When attempting to close a stuck program on a Microsoft or based PC, the most convenient way is to perform a reset operation. This is done by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL simultaneously. The Windows Task Manager will open, allowing the user to click on "Applications" tab and end the program that is causing the computer to freeze up. Performing the reset operation twice will cause the computer, not just the program, to restart and return to the initial state it was in before the program was opened.

Another method in which to perform a warm boot on a Microsoft based PC is to click on the "Start" button. From here, the user would click on the "Shut Down" menu and select "Restart." This will cause the computer to shut down and reset temporarily, without ever turning off. The computer will restart in the initial state it was in, before the application froze up.


Closing stuck programs on a Mac involves using a different reset process. The key combination of CONTROL+COMMAND+ESC will restart a Mac to its initial state before the computer program froze. For convenience purposes, there is also a reset key located on the Mac keyboard that will perform a warm boot when pressed.

Forcing a soft boot on a Linux based PC is similar to that of a Microsoft-based PC. In addition to pressing the CTRL+ALT+DEL key combination, the user can also restart the computer using GNOME. The user must right click on the desktop and choose "Create Launcher." From here he types the command “/usr/bin/gnome-session-save --kill” and follows the prompts.

Whenever possible, a warm boot should always be performed to restart a frozen computer program. There are situations when the computer is completely locked up and attempting to soft boot will not bring any results. This is when it is necessary to cold boot the computer. This is done by pressing and holding the power button. The computer will shut down and must be manually restarted.


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Post 2

@dfoster85 - I think you're right, because I grew up in the 80s and 90s in a computer-free house and I've never heard the term "warm boot." I used computers at school but otherwise came a little late to the party, so I'm really only familiar with the idiot-proof kind. I never connected to the Internet by a dial-up modem.

I'm trying to learn more about them, though. I'm a Mac user, so it's pretty simple, but I recently learned, for instance, how to do a safe mode boot.

Post 1

It is just me, or does it seem like fewer people know these terms, like cold boot vs warm boot, now? It seems like as almost every has a computer, they expect them to be more idiot-proof. Kind of like a car--plenty of people (like me) couldn't pick their spark plugs out of a lineup.

My dad was quite a computer hobbyist in the 1980s and early 90s, before they totally caught on. He actually used to own a computer-building business called The Warm Boot. We had a Commodore 64 (hooked up to a TV) and a Tandy 1000. So I grew up hearing terms like that all the time, but I haven't heard them in years.

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