I’m no expert when it comes to computers, electronics or anything else in the engineering field, but when something stops working, there’s one trick I’ve learned that almost never fails. Turn it off and on again OR unplug it and plug it back in again. That usually does the trick about 99% of the time.

The other day, my son said he couldn’t connect to the internet on his tablet and my wife said she couldn’t connect on our home computer. A few years ago, this might have required a call to the Geek Squad or being on hold with my internet provider for a half-hour.  But after going through this painful process multiple times over the years, I’ve learned to simply unplug the modem and/or wireless router, wait about 60 seconds and then plug them back in. Problem solved.

This works for lots of things. Cell phone acting up? Power reboot. If your laptop is being funky. Power it down and then up again. The other day a co-worker thought that the TV in his studio needed replacing because his picture went blank. I simply unplugged it along with the cable box, then plugged them both in again and everything worked perfectly.

So why does this work? I once heard it explained like this. Think of it like a traffic jam. The cars may be backed up and not going anywhere but there’s nothing wrong with the road. Unplugging a machine is sort of like clearing the cars off the road and starting over again. Now if the road is damaged (like a giant sinkhole), then this isn’t effective and another traffic jam is inevitable. That's when you need an expert's help. However most of the time ‘plugging it back in again’ works because nothing is actually broken and stuff just needs to be cleared away.

I’ll bet IT guys at help desks all over the world get tired of saying the same thing over and over again “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”. A British TV show called 'The IT Crowd' even poked fun at that very subject.

Comedian Bill Murray once tweeted a very funny line “If I’m ever on life support, unplug me. Then plug me back in and see if that works.”  Who knows Bill, it just might work.