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Helping to Solve the All-Time Mystery: Is It Better to Shut Down Your Computer or Keep It on Sleep Mode?

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Helping to Solve the All-Time Mystery: Is It Better to Shut Down Your Computer or Keep It on Sleep Mode?

Laptop and personal computer users want to know more about the potential dangers or benefits of leaving their systems running continuously. For decades, there’s been a valid and ongoing debate on whether to leave a laptop or computer on, or completely shut it down after using it. Both sides of this dialog have rational points to consider. Here’s some information to help you decide whether you will leave yours on, either in “sleep,” or “hibernate” mode, or turn the unit completely off after use.

Shutting Down a Laptop

Your personal needs will help you determine whether to shut down your laptop or computer, or leave it running throughout the day and night. Your decision should be based on how you use your laptop, your views on energy conservation, and whether you accept the assumption that powering up your unit frequently may damage the electronic circuits and other components.

Keep in mind, the likelihood of your laptop being infected with a virus picked up on the Internet is greater than damage to your unit by turning it off and on every day.

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Nonetheless, it is important to turn off your laptop or computer properly in order to avoid damage to the hard drive and corruption of your applications. Do not just unplug the unit or press the power button while it is still running. Use your laptop or computer on-screen menu to shut down the unit.

Microsoft recommends you may want to turn off your laptop or PC appropriately if you don’t plan to use it for a while. They suggest closing all applications; this will ensure your data is saved. They also advise turning off the laptop or personal computer will keep your unit safe and more secure. In addition, they suggest the next time you use it; your unit will start quickly.

Shutting your laptop off offers some additional benefits. Using your laptop less often can contribute to it lasting longer. Less stress, wear and tear on the electronic components and other hardware in your unit will increase its longevity. However, it’s important to keep it dust-free, clean, and maintained properly.

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Turning off your computer or laptop can help lower energy costs to some degree. The amount of wattage the unit draws varies greatly depending on whether it is a laptop or a desktop personal computer. The PC uses more energy because they require a monitor that uses up a lot of power. Additionally desktop power supplies are less resourceful.

The type of work being done on your unit determines how much power it uses. Complex calculations require intensive processing and use up more electricity. On the other hand, browsing the Internet or writing consumes a lesser amount of electricity.

Leaving a Laptop or Computer on

Scientific American reports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) verifies placing a desktop PC in “sleep” mode after a period of inactivity can result in a yearly energy savings of $15 to $45 per computer. The EPA actually breaks down sleep mode into two categories: “system standby” and “hibernate.” System standby wakes up faster, that is, five to 10 seconds compared with 20 or more seconds it takes when in a hibernate mode.

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For most people, shutting down their laptop or computer is inconvenient. They don’t like to wait around for the unit to boot up, and it’s always ready to go. In addition, leaving the laptop on allows it to perform necessary routine maintenance while your away, like backups, system maintenance, and software updates.

On the other hand, turning the laptop or computer off cuts down on the fan noise and other unexpected alarms and sounds they’re known for making.

It all comes down to your personal preference and the time you spend on the laptop. For example, if you step away from it to attend a meeting, go to lunch, or any other activity that won’t take up much time, placing the unit in “sleep” or “hibernate” mode may fit your purpose.

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In addition, if you’re not in a hurry and don’t mind the anticipation it may create waiting for the unit to boot up, or want to cut down on energy costs, or have environmental concerns about using electricity when not needed, you may want to shut down your laptop until you’re ready to use it again.

Another reality to consider is the fact that electronic components fail based on how many hours they are used. We never really know when our laptop or personal computer will fail. For this reason, it’s critical to perform regular backups of your data, pictures, documents, and anything you consider valuable.

Featured photo credit: Laptop-Couch-001-Smile/Bryce Johnson via flickr.com

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