Blog Post

Restart Will Be Required

software_updateIn the famous “Get A Mac” series of commercials, the PC is mocked for locking up and needing the occasional reboot to get back on its feet. The Mac, in contrast, doesn’t crash, and doesn’t need a reboot.

While this is on the large part true, that I go several months between lockups, and have at times sported an uptime measuring in the hundreds of days, I find myself undercut by Apple’s own software updates, which more often than not, require a reboot.

Whether it’s point releases, from Mac OS X 10.4.7 to 10.4.8 and 10.4.9, or Security Updates or QuickTime upgrades, there is a common message from my Software Update alerts: “Restart will be required”.


With Apple trying to stay the line against high profile attempts to thwart Mac OS X’s leading security, it seems that updates requiring a restart are coming at an increasing pace. And while I understand that Apple updates are more for the core of the system than say, Microsoft Office applications, or the Firefox Web browser, I wouldn’t tolerate those companies demanding I restart my computer each time I make a point upgrade. But for Apple, we put up with it, quite unwillingly.

So, when I do trust that Apple’s latest security updates or point releases are in my best interest, and I finally stop ignoring my daily Software Update reminders, I am resigned to hitting the restart button and starting over with 0 days uptime – no better than than the PC.

I love the stability of my Mac. I appreciate Apple staying on the forefront of security, and proactively pushing upgrades my way. But I don’t want to restart any more.

37 Responses to “Restart Will Be Required”

  1. Gregory Lloyd

    I am a software developer that uses a mac pro. It takes me minimum of 20 to 30 minutes to recover from a restart, launching IDEA, vmware, oracle, etc etc. I am sick and tired of the updates requiring a restart. They need to group them together and limit them to once every 3 weeks or so. I just opted to not update safari because it would have required a restart. I cannot fathom why an update to safari should require a restart and I think it is no better than M$ at this point. APPLE – MAKE IT STOP.

  2. Kendall Tawes

    If a restart will prevent five restarts in the future I think I can put up with those few restarts. After all Macs do boot much faster than Windows computers anyway and currently it’s certainly better than the old days of extension madness where one might need to restart twelve times before getting the computer to accept new hardware or something.

    Though I agree the less reboots the better.

  3. Steve Simitzis

    Occasionally restarting for a system update doesn’t bother me, though I don’t see why Apple can’t sort this out. On any of my Linux servers, almost all updates will restart the necessary services on their own without restarting the machine itself (the only exception being kernel updates).

    I think it’s a valid complaint. I use my desktop as a web server for clients to see works in progress, and I avoid restarting whenever possible.

  4. For the record, I only have OS X’s own clock, calendar, and 2 weather widgets on my dashboard at all times and sometimes a package tracker.

  5. While I do find occasionally restarting does make my rev. 1 MacBook Pro (2.16 ghz, 2 gb RAM) run better, it seriously takes about 5 minutes and 10% of my battery’s power to restart, sign in, and wait for it to to get up and running. The only apps that I have set to start at login are Quicksilver and iClip, but the real problem seems to be the Dashboard—when I call it up for the first time, I get treated to a spinning beachball for about 2 minutes. I’m guessing this is one of the quirks of a first generation product. I only reboot when absolutely necessary, or when my machine gets sluggish. And I work it into a nice breaking point in a project when it won’t be a big deal to close all apps.

  6. sjmills

    A reboot once in a while is a good thing. Many users have lots of 3rd party crap installed, and lots of 3rd party software doesn’t get anywhere near the testing that Apple software does. Poorly-written or under-tested software (especially driver/extension/etc stuff) can have memory leaks, overstuffed caches, corrupt other parts of the OS, etc. A reboot makes things clean again. If even Apple software can have obvious memory leaks (Activity Monitor does – fixed in Leopard), it should surprise anyone if 3rd party software has even more.

    Do what I do: Go ahead and download and install the updates. In many cases, you can continue working even after the updates have been installed. Then when you break for lunch, a smoke, or you stop working for the day, then reboot. Just be sure to bring Software Update to the foreground when it’s done installing updates to stop the bouncing Dock icon.

  7. “but it certainly is disruptive”

    @Louis Gray – you are correct it can be disruptive. But you still have a choice. Currently on one of my macs I haven’t updated it because my wife and I are both doing something and we don’t want to restart. So I’ll wait until the weekend to update it. Is that a big deal or a bad thing?

    Pick a day or time when you’re not using your system and update then. When you get back it’s all good.

    That’s what I do anyway.

  8. I can’t believe you wasted your time writing about a restart. I can’t believe I wasted my time reading it, and I can’t believe I wasted my time commenting on it. I am, in short, awash in disbelief regarding this post. Reality bites.

  9. Christian

    I restart every day! Because i shutdown my mac when i’m done with work to save energy?
    I know a mac or linux box can run unattended for months or even years – so why should i care?
    The windows xp machine i’m using for work at my customer’s site has to be resetted at least once a week due to network hangs or stuff like that?
    Don’t become over anxious about rebooting as long as it is a reboot with an intension! ;-)

  10. I definately agree with the comments. Restarting once every fews months is nothing compared to having to deal with windows. I have to schedule work breaks around rebooting my office computer about twice a day…windows bah.

  11. Vidar

    Running Software Update from the command line will not impel a restart the way the Software Update started from the Apple menu does.

  12. Some people are just so darn productive. If a few restarts a month derails your productivity and happiness, you are at the cutting edge of efficiency and anal retentiveness.

    When is leisure time going to make a comeback? When is Downtime going to usurp Uptime as a metric for success? I pride myself on having ample time each and every day for nothing but relaxation and thinking the big thoughts.

    Work ain’t everything.

  13. “Live” system updates without rebooting would increase the chances of system instability, e.g. crashes which would likely (and ironically) require a reboot. As a PowerBook user I almost never reboot, except for System Updates. When restarting would be inconvenient, I simply Hide (Apple+H) the Software Update application until I’m ready, and reboot or (rarely) shut down then. Sometimes this is several days after installing the update.

    One or two system restarts a month seems reasonable to me. Often, I’ll do this on the front seat of my car while driving to or from work, so that I can just slap the lid shut after the restart and pop the computer into my bag at a red light or when I arrive at my destination. My functional “down time” due to restarts is nil.

  14. I restart my windows machine at work once a day, they get too sluggish otherwise.
    Generally when i have like 30 windows open (IE/explorer caps out at 45 if i remember rightly and stops working complete) and can’t be arsed to dig through them all and open something off the desktop (windows+D minimizes all windows, but your **** once you open another window with the rest minimized because you can’t get them all back to where they were easily)
    so just restart instead and get a coffee haha

  15. What I like about OSX is that when I uninstall an application, I’m rarely (in fact, I can’t remember a time when) I’m prompted to restart the machine. On Windows, I feel like I’m punished by a developer when I uninstall an application and have to reboot.

  16. Are you kidding? Your bothered about restarting because it will reset the uptime to 0? 3 words – get a life. I’m a total geek but I still shutdown my machine regularly simply because I don’t want to waste power.

  17. At least with the required restart from updating you have the option of postponing the update until a more convenient time and you can save your work. When I’m forced to work with Windows the lock-ups never ask me if I want to save my work first.

  18. You’ve got to be kidding me. You’re upset because you have to reboot your machine when you update OS X? You have too much time on your hands if this truly irks you.

    Here’s a thought–and this is coming from a diehard Mac user for almost 20 years: run System update and while it reboots, go take a bathroom break.

    Or get a snack. Or stretch. Or talk to a human being. Or think up a better topic for you next entry.

    I’m running 10.4 on a 933 Mhz G4. It takes about ONE minute for the machine to fully reboot. I’m betting your machine can do it even more quickly. This is a non-issue. Come on, Louis.

  19. The act of restarting is something we’ve all accepted and/or taken for granted. Today’s Macs are made to simply sleep. When you’re done using the laptop, close the lid, and when ready to use again, open it up. Rather than accepting it as a time to make tea, why not see if Apple can find a way to make updates in the background that don’t require a restart? Even if it has to “Optimize” for a bit? Don’t get me wrong – restarting for Software Updates is better than rebooting from a crash, but it certainly is disruptive.

  20. Matt J

    What a stupid post. Y’know what, unless you’re running a server, no one really cares what your uptime is. So what if you have restart. Take a break, make some tea, watch TV.

    @#8 – SC
    If the software update box annoys you, just force quit it when it asks you to reboot.

  21. @ Bertrand

    The sleep mode on most modern Macs is very efficient. Quite a few years ago I believe Apple made a big deal over the first Mac (might have been the B&W G3 or the Pismo) that used less power in a 24 hour sleep cycle than it used during startup and other than the high-end G5’s and Mac Pro’s I believe that todays systems are even more efficient.

  22. rahrens

    Apple has almost always required a restart for system updates. That is the only way you can make a system change take affect, as the system always loads important parts of itself to memory upon start. When those parts are changed in an update you MUST restart in order to have the changes reloaded to memory. That isn’t just a Windows thing.


  23. I have to say I agree. As a recent Windows switcher I find the OS X restart dialog to be very obnoxious — I can’t tell it to hide and remind me later like I can in Windows. And I’m frankly surprised at just how often I have to reboot on a unix-based system.

    That being said, you’ll never get me back to Windows. :)

  24. I have noticed with my iBook that system performance starts going downhill around the 7 to 8 day mark (especially if I have been running Photoshop, Lightroom, or Illustrator) so I generally restart once a week so the occasional restart due to system updates is not an issue for me.

  25. Bertrand

    What the hell are you doing with your computer. You never shutdown your mac. I do it every night when I live the office.
    I can’t understand people who don’t do it.
    Please think about electricity use. Why do you need to keep your Mac powered on, when you are not in front of it.
    Rabits, birds, (tiger, leopard) … ask you to shutdown your Mac.

  26. Kris Jones

    Surely it is axiomatic that incremental and security updates will require a restart. I can’t see how such updates can take effect unless a machine is restarted.

    I did read a suggestion somewhere that in order to improve the pre-binding process for Leopard, most software updates will require that no other applications can run while software is being updated. If that is the case, the present system will seem more convenient than what is to follow.

  27. I had a Windows PC for years, and now having a mac where I restart every few weeks the the most is a small price to pay- compared with running virus checkers, firewalls, adaware, spybot, cCleaner… you get the picture.

  28. Are you high? LOL… I had to use a Windows-based machine for about 6 months at my last job. Restarts were a frequent part of everyday life, completely hampering efficiency and productivity. Having to restart a Mac because of Software Update is nowhere near the same as what one has to deal with on a Windows-based computer. It’s not even apples and oranges, it’s apples and cannonballs.