Here’s Why – Review Geek

This one simple trick could fix your smart TV woes.

Person holding a Chromecast remote infront of a tv with Google TV open
Jordan Gloor / Review Geek

Smart TVs are amazing. Aside from phones, they’re one of the most used devices inside our homes. However, while smart TVs provide endless entertainment, many users frequently experience glitchy streaming apps, slow internet speeds, or performance issues.

There’s nothing worse than trying to relax and binge-watch your favorite show after a long day at work, only to deal with laggy apps, stuttering, and other issues from the couch. We’ve all been there, and this simple trick could fix many of your woes.

“Have You Tried Restarting It?”

TCL Roku TV restart menu
Cory Gunther / Review Geek

Whenever my friends or family have a problem with their phone, computer, TV, smartwatch, vehicle, Wi-Fi, or anything with a power button, I ask them, “Have you tried restarting it yet?”

I know, I know. You probably tried that already. It’s one of the most common responses to any gadget problem, and that’s because it usually works. But it might not always work on your TV.

See, smart TVs are a lot like a computer these days. They have a processor, storage, RAM, and the same hardware in a smaller package. Restarting a smart TV clears some system memory, kills apps running in the background, and wipes any residual software from app updates.

However, most modern TVs have “fast startup” or energy-saving eco modes that never actually shut the TV off, even if you hit the power button. So, when you fumble through the settings menu and hit “restart,” it’ll probably be up and running far faster than you expected.

They’re always in “standby mode,” ready to turn on more quickly, listen for voice commands, or start casting video from a phone or laptop. And while some TVs let you disable the fast start mode, like my TCL, that doesn’t always mean it’s fully shutting off.

Unplug Your TV Instead

hand unplugging a smart TV power cord.
Naypong Studio/

Instead of hitting the power button on the remote or selecting restart from settings, try completely unplugging your smart TV for 10-20 seconds. It’ll help.

Like rebooting a computer boosts performance and gives you a fresh start, entirely cutting power to your TV will do the same. It’ll completely flush the system, take far longer to boot back up than a regular restart, and when it does, you’ll reap the benefits.

Think about the hours on end you spend streaming Netflix, Max, Hulu, YouTube TV, and all those other apps on your smart TV. It works hard, never gets a break, and is expected to stream HD video nearly 24/7 in some households. That’s a tall task.

Performance Improvements

Netflix intro screen on a smart tv-1
Hannah Stryker / Review Geek

My 65-inch TCL Roku TV runs great—until it doesn’t. After a week or two, I’ll start to notice a delayed response to changing the volume, flipping through apps, or trying to launch Netflix. Sometimes it’s laggy software, while other times, the internet struggles and things won’t load.

However, the internet works perfectly fine on my phone and laptop, which means the TV is likely to blame. Either way, the performance isn’t as expected.

Turning it off and back on doesn’t fix it, and I’m not the only one with this problem. The easiest and fastest solution that works every time is to unplug my smart TV. Sure, it’s frustrating to get up, move the entertainment center, and yank the cable out of the wall. But when I do, everything magically works as expected.

Keep in mind that if you’re using an old or outdated TV, this won’t solve all your problems. Like that old smartphone that’s starting to get slow and show its age, you’ll eventually need to upgrade or replace your TV.

It Could Trigger App and Software Updates

Google TV open on a tv with a 4K Chromecast
Jordan Gloor / Review Geek

Considering our TVs are giant computers, they often get a slew of software and app updates. Apps like Sling TV and YouTube TV get updates constantly, full of bug fixes and performance improvements. Don’t forget to occasionally check for updates on your TV in settings or its app store.

While most TVs will automatically check for (and apply) upgrades, rebooting the system will often force the system to recheck for the latest software. I’ve experienced this on Samsung and TCL TVs, to name a few. During the reboot, you might also notice apps getting updates simultaneously, or Netflix will have to reload and take a bit longer to launch.

That’s because it just received the latest version of the app or software, which will likely make it run better and improve your streaming experience. Again, hitting the power button won’t do this, but pulling the power cord will.

Set Up Weekly Automatic Restarts

Person holding an Amazon Smart Plug
Hannah Stryker / Review Geek

Advice like rebooting your computer once a week is a rule of thumb for a reason, and the same applies to your smart TV. If you don’t want to try to remember constantly, you can easily set up weekly automatic power flips with a smart plug.

The KASA smart Wi-Fi plug works with just about everything, can be remotely controlled, or download the app and set weekly actions to flip the power off/on to your smart TV.

This removes all the hassle, ensuring your TV is always refreshed and ready for the latest season of Succession, Ted Lasso, a go-to show like Criminal Minds, or whatever else you find on Netflix.

Another option is to plug your TV into an easily accessible power strip. Then, once a week, walk over and flip the switch for 10-20 seconds. I do that whenever my smart TV starts acting up, or my smart speaker loses its internet connection.

Bottom line, over time, your smart TV will get a little slow and sluggish, struggle to hold a solid internet connection, and apps can get outdated. If you have a super old TV, it’s probably time to consider upgrading or adding a smart stick. For everyone else, just unplug your TV every once in a while.

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