Why Installing New Apps Requires You to Close Running Apps and Restart Your Computer


When you install a program, there’s a good chance that it will ask you to close other apps first. It may then tell you to restart the computer so it can finish the installation. These annoying requests by many program installations, including updates from Windows Update, have valid reasons. But there’s a workaround that lets you avoid restarting your computer anyway.

Why Some Programs Won’t Even Install Unless You Close Apps First

To make their programs work, installers typically must make changes to critical system files. Because these files may be currently in use by other programs, the installer prompts you to close these other programs first or restart the computer so it can make the changes without affecting the computer’s stability.

So the next time you install something and get the message prompt, just go ahead and press the restart button. It’s not that much of a hassle, unless you’re in a situation when you often have to install a lot of applications and your computer awfully takes a long time to restart. In that case, you can at least speed up the boot time by disabling startup programs[a].

How to avoid restarting after an install

You must really hate restarting your computer if you’re reading this part of this guide. You’ll be glad to know that there is a workaround, because sometimes a full restart isn’t necessary. All you need to do is to restart explorer.exe:

Open the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del and go to the Processes tab

In Windows 7 and older versions of the operating system, select explorer.exe in the list, press the End Process button and confirm. Go to the File menu, select New Task (Run…), and type “explorer.exe” in the Create New Task dialog box and click OK.

In Windows 8 and later versions, select Windows Explorer in the list and click the Restart button.

And you’re done!

Note that restarting Windows Explorer doesn’t always work; you’ll know something is wrong when your computer is behaving erratically or the program you just installed doesn’t run. When in doubt, just do as you’re told and restart your computer.