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Hands On: Tech Restarter
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MacNN Staff
Join Date: Jul 2012
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Apr 27, 2016, 08:50 AM
One of the biggest problems with devices that are constantly plugged in is that they eventually begin to work less and less efficiently, until there's a noticeable problem. Remembering to do the occasional restart manually can be a big hassle, especially when a thorough restart sometimes means cutting the power to these devices altogether. So what do you do? Well, that's where Tech Restarter comes in.

Anyone who runs a computer for long periods of time without restarting it knows that, after a while, devices just stop working as well as they used to -- and this isn't limited to only computers. It also effects things like routers and cable modems, and often results in painfully slow Internet speeds (or Internet that stops working all together.) For Wi-Fi devices like printers, scanners, game consoles, and more, connection problems can run rampant without regular, albeit periodic, restarts.
The thing about the Tech Restarter is that it is so wonderfully clever, so simple, and such a perfect solution to a common problem that you, like us, are going to wonder why you haven't snagged one before now. It's a small box that plugs into your outlet, features two outlets on either side, and a big, friendly interface on the front. Simply connect your devices to the Tech Restarter, plug them in, and then set what time you'd like to have your devices restart. If you want to power down a device for the whole night, you can do that as well.
As far as programming the Tech Restarter goes, we were thrilled that it was fairly easy. The instructions included are clearly written, the buttons are easy to press, and the big clock face on the front feels similar to programming an alarm clock, so we'd consider it a pretty easy device to get a handle on.
After using the Tech Restarter, we've noticed a bit of an improvement on our Internet speeds so far. We're willing to bet people who see noticeable degradation of their Internet speeds when they go too long without restarting can sidestep the problem completely. If you're looking to get your own Tech Restarter, you can snag one from Amazon for $20. Who needs Tech Restarter: If, like us, you hate crawling behind entertainment centers and under computer desks to restart your beloved devices, this little gem really helps to keep everything running like new. Who may not need Tech Restarter: If you don't mind restarting things manually, or if you've got a router that is capable of restarting itself daily, you might actually not need one of these. -- Amber Neely (@SurferAmber) Readers: do you have an app or product that you'd like to see us review? Developers and designers: do you want us to take a look at your app or product? Send your suggestions to our Tips email.
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Join Date: Oct 1999
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Apr 27, 2016, 10:00 AM
Router, yes.

Computer? Don't they come with switches on the part near you? And menus?

Just make sure you schedule any hard drive activity away from your scheduled computer restart.
Just sayin'
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Apr 27, 2016, 10:11 AM
So it's like killing the power by turning off the surge protector strip.

Yeah, I wouldn't recommend this device for anything other than the most simple of electronics. The product page on Amazon suggests you can use it for gaming consoles (which these days are just computers), and that's horrible advice.

You don't ever want to kill power suddenly for your computer or XBox or Playstation. Those devices need to power down gracefully, just like they need to power up gracefully.

For your router or your lamps in your home, sure (though rebooting a lamp never made it any brighter for me, though YMMV) -- but for anything "computer-ish," I wouldn't recommend using this device.

There's a reason we shut down our gaming systems and computers during electrical storms -- because sudden power loss can be devastating in certain situations. This device is simply a predictable electrical storm simulator, without the surge risk.
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Apr 27, 2016, 01:08 PM
Honestly the only use I can think of for this is wifi routers.

If you have a laptop, it won't do anything, of course.

If you have a desktop, restarting by yanking the power cord is *far* more likely to cause problems (ranging from data corruption to a bricked SSD) than leaving the thing powered up for a week (or a month). Try it on your Mac--you'll be greeted with a disk check and a warning from Apple not to do that again.

If you have a game console, anything from the previous generation on has a hard drive (or SSD) and an OS, and expects to be shut down gracefully. Most (all?) will actually complain if they weren't shut down gracefully and run a disk check on reboot to make sure nothing got corrupt. Worst case, if you were up late playing when you've got your shutdown scheduled, you are going to have the game reboot for no good reason, and if the game was auto-saving at that moment you might have your entire save file wiped.

Anything "dumber" than a router--a lamp, toaster, microwave--isn't going to need "rebooted" at all. Even a TV is either going to be so simple a "reboot" is pointless, or smart enough yanking the plug at a random time is a bad idea--worst case, if it's updating its firmware automatically at that moment (Vizio TVs, for example, update their firmware automatically at night when they're off), you could literally brick your TV.

So what does that really leave you with? A wifi router that might actually act up if it's on for a month without a power cycle and doesn't mind being surreptitiously unplugged, and... a printer, maybe? I've never seen one flake out.

Basically, this sounds like a renamed lamp timer like people have been using when on vacation for decades, except it's been renamed as a solution in search of a problem. I can get an electronic timer with a weekly schedule that will do exactly what this does from my hardware store for less than $20, and half that from Amazon.

Maybe they should have called it "the wifi router restarter", and at least that would explain what it's good for.
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