Should you power your computer off or leave it on?

Since personal computers have become popular the question has been is it better to leave it on or to turn it off at night?. There are a lot of truths and untruths that are tossed about when debating this so what is the truth of this and what is right for you? Nicely Done Sites will try to get to the bottom of this for you.

Benefits of shutting the computer down

Computers use electricity, sometimes a lot of it. The main benefit of shutting down a computer is that it helps with your power bill. If a computer is only used for an hour or two a day it is more beneficial to turn it off.

Many of the computer’s components also have a limited life. The battery on the motherboard or on a hard drive have a limited number of hours that they can run (it’s plenty long and chances are you will have a new computer before you hit the limit so don’t worry too much) and by shutting the computer off (or letting the computer go to sleep) that can extend those components life. Shutting off the computer also reduces the amount of heat generated which can damage internal components. Don’t forget to turn off the monitor as well.

Another major reason cited is that a powered down computer will not be at risk from any negative effects that comes with power outages or voltage spikes. These can occur at any time but in reality are rare and using a power strip or a surge protector can help to mitigate these risks.

A final reason cited is noise. A turned off computer produces no noise. That can make it easier to sleep at night (or whenever you sleep) and well there will also be none of those annoying notifications that come through at any hour of the day. Sometimes it is just nice to have peace and quiet.

Benefits of leaving it on

There are many benefits of leaving a computer on and the main reasons cited is the amount of stress that is put on the components when it is powered on. When powered on all of the moving parts start to run, from the fans to older hard drives, and this can put stress on these parts. These are mechanical parts and like all mechanical parts they can fail and the constant starting and stopping does not help. While this has been somewhat alleviated by new technology like solid state hard drives that cannot be said for other components like RAM, your processor or expansion cards.

Of course there are other reasons to leave the computer on. While the computer is idle there are background tasks running, whether it is a virus scan or an update being processed. If this can be done while the user is away it makes the process go much smoother. The machine will still need to be rebooted periodically so it will be shut down and restarted at some point.

What about sleep or hibernate?

This is somewhat of a middle ground and may offer the best option for many people. Sleep puts the machine into a low power mode so the computer consumes as little electricity as possible and when it wakes up it comes with none of the time it takes to startup the machine. With modern computers this is also customizable as well.

Hibernate is essentially the sleep function but with even less power consumption. It is also only available with laptops computers. It is best used for people who will not use the computer for a long period of time but do not want to shut it off. Bringing a computer out of hibernate is essentially the same thing as powering it up but without the time of waiting for the computer to boot up.

What can you do?

There are a couple of things to keep in mind. If you do not use the computer often or for just a few hours in the evening it is best to power the machine off when you are not using it. Another thing to keep in mind is the computer’s warranty and while the computer is under warranty it could be best to power it off and on as needed. If any parts fail they will be more apt to do so while the machine is under warranty which will save you a lot more money. If the components make it through the warranty period they are pretty sturdy and you can leave the machine on all day and just let it go to sleep from that point on.

If you do decided to leave the computer on all day make sure it is hooked up to a surge protector. This can help to avoid a lot of damage that can be caused by something like power outages or voltage spikes and it is something that you should do anyway. Make sure as well that your computer can go to sleep and that you check out the settings on it to customize them to your liking.

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