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Should you shut down your computer at night?

As long as humanity has existed we’ve pondered various conundrums…the chicken or the egg? … Regular or decaf? … Why are we here? … Should I turn my computer off at night or leave it on? Well, we’re not going to attempt the first three, there are plenty of new age blogs all over the internet that can help you out with those. But we will talk about the computer on vs. off at night debate.  Let’s have a look at both sides so you can decide what’s best for you.

But my computer will wear out faster!

…Say people on both sides of the issue. Some folks argue that shutting your computer down and starting it back up frequently has a negative impact on components, making them wear out more quickly. On the other hand, those on the other side of the fence argue that leaving your computer on all the time will also contribute to premature component wear.

So who’s right? Off or on?

The answer is…(drumroll)…it depends.

Yes I know, that’s possibly the most anti-climactic answer in the history of answers. But read on and find out why.

How often do you use your computer?

Whether to shut your computer off or keep it on largely depends on how often you use it. If you use it several times during the day, or in the morning and then again at night, leave it on. If you use your computer for only a few hours once a day, or less often, turn it off when you’re done.

You definitely don’t want to be shutting it down and restarting it several times a day. Leaving the computer on all the time is less stressful than turning it on and off several times a day, but it’s a constant stress.  Every single time a computer powers on there is a small surge of power as everything awakes, and if it’s done multiple times during the day, then things will wear out faster.

Some components have a limited life cycle, so they do benefit from shutting your computer off now and then. For example, an LCD panel is built to last for about 15,000 hours, so letting it time out will extend its life. The hard drive and battery also have limited life cycles, and will benefit from occasional shut downs.

The best reasons to leave it on – or turn it off

The original concept that frequent shut downs and start-ups have a negative impact on your computer is a bit dated, because the components that were thought to incur extra stress are not used in more modern systems. But there are still several good reasons to leave your computer on. They are:

  • You want to be able to remotely access your PC because you’re using it as a server
  • You don’t want to wait for it to start up
  • There are updates, virus scans, or other things you’d like to run while you’re away

And now let’s hear from the “turn it off” camp:

  • Leaving it on wastes electricity and can slightly increase your power bill
  • You don’t want to have to deal with notifications or fan noise
  • Computer performance benefits from the occasional reboot

Sleep or Hibernate?

Putting your computer in sleep mode is the meet-in-the-middle solution. Sleep mode puts your computer in to a low power state without turning it completely off. You can save a lot of power without putting added stress on your system.

In Hibernation mode your computer stops using power, then resumes where it was prior to being put in that mode. It’s the less desirable of the two because it produces wear and tear similar to shutting it down and restarting it.

Other ways to help your computer’s lifespan

There are other things you can do to extend the life of your computer as well. For one, always use a surge protector. For the best lifespan get a universal power supply (UPS), which is in essence a battery backed up surge protector. Surge protectors help to even out the power to your system, preventing power spikes that can lower the lifespan of your computer’s components.

You can also help your computer last longer by keeping it clean. Inside and out. On the inside periodically check your software, and uninstall old software you don’t use, and clean up old files and processes as well. On the outside, open that baby up to clean out old dust and debris so your computer can breathe properly.

So which is it?

To reiterate – if you use your computer frequently, it’s best to leave it on, at least all day. If you use it in the morning and the evening, then leave it on overnight as well.

If you use your computer less often, such as for only a short time during the day, or less, then turn it off when you’re done.

 

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