A soft reset is a restart of a device, such as a smartphone, tablet, laptop or personal computer (PC). The action closes applications and clears any data in RAM (random access memory). Unsaved data in current use may be lost but data stored on the hard drive, applications and settings are not affected.
On PCs, a soft reset consists of restarting as opposed to shutting down completely and starting the computer again. For handheld devices, such as smartphones, the process usually involves shutting the device off and starting it afresh.
Soft resets are usually conducted in an attempt to fix malfunctioning applications or because they're required for software installation. Soft reset contrasts with hard reset, which removes all user data, settings and applications and returns a device to the same state it was in when it shipped from the factory.
See also: reboot