Have you ever had a smartphone, laptop, tablet, or any other electronic gadget become unresponsive? The surefire way to recover from the freeze – assuming it’s not a hardware problem – is by power-cycling the gadget.

Most geeks know that pulling and reinserting a device’s battery will force it to recover from a freeze and boot right back up, but what if the device doesn’t have a removable battery?

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Remove the Battery

If you have a device that appears frozen and won’t power on at all, pulling the battery is a good place to start. This applies to smartphones, laptops, digital cameras, and everything else with a removable battery.

Before removing the battery, ensure the device is unplugged – we want to ensure it isn’t receiving any power at all. Locate the removable battery, which will be in a different place depending on your device – you may have to pop the back off a smartphone, look at the underside of a laptop, or slide open a panel on a digital camera. Remove the battery, wait several seconds, and then reinsert the battery. Try turning it back on — your hardware will often come right back to life.

Long-Press the Power Button

Many new devices are coming without user-removable batteries, but users still need the ability to power cycle the gadget. If you have a device without a user-removable battery, there’s often a way to power cycle your device by long-pressing a button or two.

On a Nexus 7 or Kindle, long-pressing the power button for an entire 30 seconds will power cycle the device and force it to restart. This may also apply to other tablets and smartphones.

On an iPhone, you have to press and hold both the power and home buttons at the same time for at least 10 seconds. (In the case of the iPhone 7, press and hole the power button and the volume down button.)

You may have to look up the exact buttons required for your device, but this sort of trick works on all sorts of hardware. For example, on a Turtle Beach wireless headset, you can press and hold the mute button for 15 seconds to power cycle the headset.

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Unplug the Power Cable

If you have a device with neither a battery nor a power button – such as a router or modem – you can power-cycle the device by pulling its power cord and plugging it back in. However, you should wait several seconds – at least 10 seconds, to be safe – before plugging the device back in. If you plug it back in too soon, it may not lose power entirely.

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Use Reset Pinholes

Some devices have built-in batteries and won’t respond to long-pressing any buttons. These devices often have small, hidden buttons that you can press to power cycle them. These small buttons are referred to as pinholes because they’re located inside tiny holes in the device. You’ll need a bent paperclip or another long, narrow object to press these buttons and power-cycle the device.

You’ll generally find the location of a device’s pinhole in its manual. This applies to all sorts of devices – from wireless headsets to laptops such as the Lenovo X1 Carbon.

Be aware that reset pinholes sometimes do more than simply resetting the device. For example, the reset pinholes on consumer routers generally reset the router to its factory default settings. To power-cycle the router without losing your settings, just unplug it and plug it back in.

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If this didn’t solve your problem and your device still seems frozen (or dead), be sure that you’re following the correct procedure for your specific device – you may need to use a pinhole or combination of buttons mentioned in the device’s manual. If following that process didn’t help, it’s possible that your hardware is dead and the device needs to be serviced or replaced.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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