I've always heard and used the term "reboot" or "restart" to indicate restarting a server, service or software module.

  • "reboot the server"
  • "restart Tomcat"
  • "restart the XYZ service"

Does "bounce" mean something different or is it just a duplicate term for restart? How is "bounce" any different than restart or reboot?

  • 1
    Bounce is a euphemism for a "warm" or "soft" restart as opposed to a "cold" or "hard" restart. It is done without cutting the electricity to the system. Long running processes like web servers are often bounced daily to prevent accumulated memory leaks and other resource management issues. Mar 30, 2019 at 19:02

12 Answers 12


I use "bounce" all the time in the context of cycling something-- "Bouncing a service", "Bouncing a server", "Bouncing a router", etc. I'd use it interchangeably with "restart", "reboot", or "power cycle".

It seems to be slightly regional, being most popular in the Midwest, Northeast, and West coast. The term seems to have originated in the IBM, VAX, and Unix communities; as according to the Jargon File. It seems rare for people to use the term outside of these regions.

I wouldn't say it's in extremely common use, but it's out there.

  • I've heard it used a pile in .ie, so it's obviously not purely a midwestern US thing.
    – Cian
    Sep 4, 2009 at 8:18
  • 1
    I've heard it around the world - west coast, midwest, east coast USA; Singapore; London; Hong Kong ... it's pretty much global in my experience
    – warren
    Sep 4, 2009 at 11:14
  • I think it's a regional thing. Everyone in IT in the Midwest US knows the term; they might not use it, but they know what it means. Outside of the Midwest it's hit and miss; except for Europe, where they'll have no idea what you're talking about.
    – Chris S
    Apr 23, 2010 at 19:13
  • Can confirm it's used in .ie and .au
    – Antitribu
    Apr 23, 2010 at 19:21
  • 1
    I tend to use "kick", as in kick that server or kick that misbehaving tomcat process. ;) Apr 23, 2010 at 19:37

I've heard of bounce: use it every day, when I'm working on Windows machines. :)

Anyone else use the terms "nuke" or "blow it away" when talking about format/reinstall? Some of my clients give me a crooked look when I say I'm going to "blow away their machine" and re-build it.

  • We "smoke" stuff in my shop :)
    – a-1
    Sep 14, 2017 at 20:59

I've heard it quite a few times referring to rebooting a device or cycling a service. As in: the device/service goes down and comes back up.


In my part of the world the term "bounce" is generally used when talking about services, whereas you "reboot" a server or "restart" an application or process.

The explanation I was originally given for the terminology is that a service is stopped and restarted pretty quickly. i.e. Throw it down and let it come back up, like bouncing a ball. A server reboot (an historical term) takes a significantly longer time (normally), so can't really be called a bounce. Applications don't get bounced or rebooted, so they are restarted.


Personally I've never heard the term "bounce" in regards to IT, except for a bounced email, and in that case, bouncing means returning it to its originator.

I guess maybe in this scenario to "bounce" doesn't mean to just reset the power, but reset the configuration maybe?

Must be one of those carazay Americanisms ;)

  • Same here, until I moved to Canada. I was the one in meetings, mouth agape, wondering what on earth everyone was on about when they referring to bounce this, and bounce that.
    – Izzy
    Sep 4, 2009 at 4:50

I've only heard it used once or twice before, and in context they were asking to reboot the server. I'm guessing in some circles it seems appropriate because the server is going down and back up - like a ball bouncing.


It may be a regionalism. We use it all the time, particularly in regards to a service we expect to come back up quickly with little or no down time. So you bounce Apache with a downtime of ~1 sec. but you reboot a server that could take 15-20 minutes to come back up.

  • You can also bounce apache with 'apachectl graceful', which won't result in downtime, and isn't calling the 'restart' argument.
    – Joe H.
    Sep 4, 2009 at 13:09

I think bounce is a regional term. I work with DBA of a few select customers in the midwest. We typically use the term bounce for bringing a database down and back up. Sometimes the term bounce slides over to restarting the server, but it's much more rare than when talking about the database.


I've never seen anybody imply anything different with 'bounce' than 'restart' - other than that it just sounds a lot more fun.

Word choice is one of the ways I try to keep things interesting. Half of my users don't have the first idea of what 'reformat', 'reimage', or 'ghost' mean - but if I tell them I'm going to lobotomize their PC, or give it a brain transplant, with a clean new brain... they can at least grasp the concept. And it's funny. (somehow this seems incredibly relevant on a Friday)


I think UNIX admins used to commonly say bounce instead of reboot, way back in the day. That's the origin I think.


I am from the East Coast and have not heard this terminology "bounce" a server in my 10 years of IT career. However, I just learned this word from a fellow IT Admin after working in the Silicon Valley and it has been used quite often. I guess it is a regional IT slang and it means to restart.


I am from the UK and work for Europe’s largest IT Company. Bouncing something in the UK is commonly used in Infrastructure Server terms and not so much in the Networking space.

So Windows / UNIX / Mainframe / Storage / Messaging / Database / Web technology professionals will talk about bouncing:

  • Servers (graceful restart or hard restart / power cycle)
  • Services
  • Devices (graceful restart or hard restart / power cycle)

Our Network and Voice teams seem to talk more in terms of restarts and reloads.

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