What Is a Soft Reset?

by Jerel Jacobs

When using a cellular phone, PDA, computer or other device, it is not uncommon to encounter glitches in the form of freezes and lockups. When this happens the first thing that is often done is to soft reset the device.


A soft reset is the most common way of restarting an electronic device. It clears the memory and closes all open applications. It basically means to turn the device off, clearing the memory, and turning it back on again.


The soft reset has the benefit of clearing the short term RAM memory without affecting other data. This is often enough to fix most minor bugs and application hangups.

Soft Reset versus Hard Reset

A hard reset is often called a "factory reset". This is because a hard reset will delete all data stored on the device and return it to its factory unused condition. It is for this reason that a soft reset is often preferable to hard reset.


When using a computer the term "soft reset" has a different meaning. On a computer a soft reset means to restart the computer instead of performing a full shut down in which the power completely turns off.

Expert Insight

Performing a soft reset may cause you to lose any unsaved data from open applications that were opened when the reset was performed. However, a soft reset has no effect on data stored in closed applications or in the permanent memory of the device.