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A CDE Definition

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clear memory

To reset all RAM and hardware registers to a zero or blank condition. Selecting Restart to reboot the computer does not clear memory, but turning it off and on again guarantees that memory is cleared and the system is reset. With laptops and home entertainment equipment, even that is not sufficient (see cold boot).

A Remedy for Many Problems
Rebooting is the first action users should take when any computer, smartphone, tablet, router or other electronics device stops working, slows down or acts erratic. No matter how small the product these days, there may be a CPU inside with values stored and updated in memory as the device is used.

cold boot

Starting the computer when its power is turned off. To perform a cold boot if the computer is still running, Shut Down must be selected from the menu first. Once the machine is off, turning it back on performs the cold boot.

If a program failure locks up the computer, a normal restart from the menu (warm boot) may not be sufficient to set things right again, because memory (RAM) is not cleared. However, a cold boot removes power and clears memory, and all current settings are reset. Erratic program behavior can sometimes be cured with a cold boot, also called a "hard boot."

It May Not Be That Easy
Laptops and home theater equipment may require more effort, because turning them off may not really remove the power. Laptops may continue to draw battery power, and to guarantee a cold boot, the battery may have to be removed for a minute and re-inserted. Likewise, set-top boxes, A/V receivers and other consumer electronics may continue to draw power when turned off and thus have to be unplugged from the wall to ensure a cold boot. Contrast with warm boot. See boot, clean boot and reboot.

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