Computers have changed a lot in the last 30 years. Rather than one family PC, many families now have multiple computing devices, including tablets, smartphones, laptops, and desktop personal computers. The recommendations on how to care for your computers has changed as the technology has changed. Nevertheless, one of the most common questions computer technicians are asked is “Should I turn my computer off every night?”
Putting the Myths to Rest
You may have heard that turning off your computer will protect it from power surges. This just isn't true. If a power surge occurs and your computer is plugged into an unprotected outlet, you will suffer the same damage whether the computer is on or off. To prevent this problem, never plug your computer into an outlet without a quality surge protection system (many of which are available very cheaply); unplug your machines completely if possible during electrical storms.
Similarly untrue is the assertion that a computer should be turned off nightly to prevent overheating. Modern desktop computers have cooling systems that are designed to draw heat away from sensitive components by using heatsinks and vent the heat out the back of the computer using the fans. This cooling system will work to keep your computer at a safe operating temperature no matter how long it has been on, as long as the fans are all functioning and you don't block the fans from taking in or blowing out air. Laptops generally are programmed to automatically go into “hibernate” mode when they are closed or inactive for a period of time, so overheating wouldn’t be an issue (even if they were in an unventilated enclosure like a briefcase or sleeve).
Wear and Tear & Maintenance Issues
It’s unlikely that turning a computer off each night and booting it up in the morning contributes to any significant wear and tear on the components. (In computers from the 80s and 90s, you could actually wear down the power button! Thankfully, that’s no longer an issue.) Conversely, there’s no evidence that letting the computer run all day will wear out the fans and hard drive faster. Although fans wear down with time, the typical expected lifespans published by manufacturers are hundreds of times longer than the typical "useful" age of a computer, meaning this point should be moot.
Excess buildup of dust in a computer will prove far more detrimental to the lifespan of your computer than letting it run 24/7, which is why you should clean your computer regularly. It’s definitely a good idea to reboot your computer periodically to give it a "fresh start," which closes unnecessary programs and allows your operating system to run more quickly with fewer errors. But routinely leaving your computer on during times you aren’t using it allows it to perform background maintenance such as software updates, regularly-scheduled virus and malware scans, and other routine maintenance tasks that keep your machine running its best.
Many businesses benefit greatly from leaving their computers on 24/7 you, so that users can access workplace PCs remotely and systems administrators can perform remote maintenance. But can potentially save big bucks in electricity costs by turning off or powering down your computers, especially if you have many terminals or devices (e.g., in an office environment).
Modern computers are equipped with a plethora of power saving features from their components to their operating systems. By far, the most important power-saving feature of any computer is its ability to go into standby or hibernation mode, also known as "sleeping." This can cut your computers power consumption to a fraction of what it would cost to power it for constant use. Make sure you know how to configure your computer to sleep most efficiently and appropriately to your workplace needs so you find the best balance between instant use of your computer and saving money. A computer in standby uses only pennies more in electricity than a computer that's switched off.
Instead of turning your computers off every night, you can leave them running 24/7 but set up a power plan so they go to sleep after 10 minutes of inactivity. When you want to use the computer, a quick mouse-shake or key press will wake them within seconds. You can reboot periodically when it is useful rather than having to wait unnecessarily for a full boot-up every morning.
Need help? Call us!
Dymin Systems’ in-home service options can help you set up a power saving plan for your home computing systems, or visit us in our Urbandale showroom to chat with our technicians and drop off your computer for a comprehensive checkup and computer cleaning services (only $99)! We can help you decide whether to repair, upgrade or replace your computer systems, and our store has the best selection of computer parts and accessories in the Des Moines area. Contact us to find out about our in-store and in-home computer repair services today.