Warm boot

Updated: 12/31/2020 by Computer Hope
soft boot

Alternatively known as a soft boot, a warm boot is a method of restarting a computer that is already on without completely turning it off.

How to warm boot a computer

On a computer running Microsoft Windows, a warm boot can be accomplished by pressing the Ctrl+Alt+Del keys simultaneously or by selecting a restart option within Windows. A warm boot is faster than turning a computer off, waiting, and then turning it back on again (cold boot). It is done when your computer needs to restart and you plan on continuing to use the computer.

Why would a warm boot happen by itself?

If the computer encounters a hardware or software error that cannot be recovered, it may reboot (warm boot) by itself to recover from the error.

What are the reasons you would need to warm boot?

Below is a list of the different reasons you may need to warm boot a computer.

  • New hardware, software, or driver has been installed and requires a reboot.
  • A system setting has been changed that requires a reboot.
  • An update has been installed and requires a reboot.
  • The computer has a problem that cannot be fixed until computer reboots.
  • Computer or software program is frozen.

Rebooting the computer is a good first troubleshooting step for many problems.


When a computer freezes or gets into a deadlock, it cannot be warm booted and requires a cold boot.

Cold boot vs. warm boot

The opposite of warm booting is cold booting, which is turning the computer on (booting) after the computer has been off (is cold).

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