Most people think that leaving their computer on can allow it to last longer before a crash. Some people even think that constant shutting and restarting can wear off your hard rive. “An old saying (possibly apocryphal) was that stopping and restarting a hard drive was the same as eight hours of regular running time.” But the truth is, shutting down your computer when not in use conserves electricity. Heat is the primary reason most computers to crash, not shutting it down or restarting it. So yes, it is advisable to shut down your PC at night.
I suggest shutting down your PC and monitor every night along with unplugging it if you can. This will allow the computer to rest, while not adding to your energy bill.
In early computer days there were many things to worry about, and many aspects of computer behavior were not well understood. That was the time of many urban legends, rules-of-thumb, etc. We understand computers much better now.
So, speaking reluctantly, don’t listen to what the two other people have written here, they are working from experience and opinion from many years ago. They’re wrong.
You should not shut your computer off, ever, except in unusual circumstances. Just use “Sleep” mode. Sleep mode consumes very little electricity. Shutdown is only necessary when:
1) The power in your building failed. If that happens, unplug your computer from the wall immediately. Don’t plug it back in until the power is back on, again.
2) There’s a lightning storm in your area.
3) You have some other reason to believe power is flaky (for example brown-outs).
What you are trying to protect — and which most people miss — is that you have a huge investment in your computer. It’s not just the money you spent on it, but the work you’ve done, the software you’ve purchased. Saving a few bucks on electricity is a false economy.
To get into technical details, why are the people who are recommending turning the computer off incorrect in their assumptions? They’re working from old, incomplete information.
1) Significant damage is caused to the circuits in your computer by changes to temperature. When the circuits flex enough, the packaging breaks open. If you power down your computer, the temperature drops dramatically. And you don’t want that.
2) Other damage is caused by shocks to the circuits. You shock a circuit, for example, by touching a computer board without being grounded. Many people, even professionals, will tell you they touch circuit boards all the time. What they don’t understand is that some damage is cumulative. Do it once? Ok? Do it 15 times? Board is dead.
Circuits are also shocked by turning them on or off. Every time you do that, every single piece of electronics in your computer is shocked. Maybe you get away with it for a year. (And maybe you don’t.)
3) A hot topic of debate for years was how to avoid hard drive failure. Well, they used to be less reliable. It might have made sense to power down a hard drive 20 years ago, because the bearing holding the spinning disk would wear out. But that concern was long before “Sleep” mode spun the hard drive down. And drives are much more reliable, now.
(There is a caveat, however. Hard drives don’t like to be knocked around. Use your laptop on a plane or in the car — and you’re significantly reducing the hard drive’s lifespan.)
So, as with so many ecological problems in our complex world, the intuitive, common sense thing to do? Is wrong. It’s not a tragedy to power your computer off occasionally, but the more you can avoid it, the better.
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