Should You Turn Off Your Computer Every Night | #itsecurity | #infosec


Frequently powering down your computer harms its hardware and prematurely shortens its lifespan. However, leaving your computer constantly running is also likely to do the same. There are reasons for and against doing both; in this article we’ve outlined what those are.

As well as discussing the pros and cons of turning your computer off at night, we’ll provide tips on healthy practices and things to avoid for a computer to optimally and continues to serve you for as long as possible.

Why Should I Turn Off My Computer Every Night?

The quick answer to this depends on how often you use it.

If you use it for work or several times throughout the day, it’s better to leave it on more frequently than turning it off. The work involved in launching everything needed is taxing on your computer’s hardware. The more it needs to power up, the more work the hardware will need to do, causing additional wear and tear over time.

If you only use it for a short time, say, for up to a couple of hours – once a day – or less, then it would be better off being turned off at night.

Reasons to Leave Computer Running

The following lists reasons why you should consider leaving your computer running as much as possible:

Help Preserve the Lifespan of the Computer

A computer uses a surge of power each time it reboots. The more your computer needs to reboot the more demand is put onto the internal components, therefore, slowly decreasing its lifespan.

Allows for Software Updates and Routine Scanning

When your computer is not being used during the night this is the best time for updates, virus scanning, routine tasks, and maintenance activities to be carried out. Updates sometimes require your computer to reboot to take effect, which usually kicks in automatically.

When Your Computer Is Accessed Remotely

If your computer acts as a server, it’ll need to be left on so that it can be accessed.

To Save Time Powering Up

Your computer will take time to relaunch all the programs and files you need after being switched off completely.

Reasons to Turn Computer Off

The following lists reasons why you should consider turning your computer off often:

Saves on Your Electricity Bill

Electricity bills can mount up, and like other electrical devices in your home, leaving your computer on uses up electricity. Turning off your computer at night will help save a few dollars each month on your electricity bill.

Computers Heat Up Whilst On

Computer hardware requires electricity to function. Friction occurs as there is some resistance when the electricity passes through wires and circuits ­– this friction creates heat. When the internal hardware begins to heat up, the fans get to work to prevent them from overheating. Over time this slowly chips away at the longevity of the computer.

All the internal components have a limited life cycle. Switching your computer off – allowing these components to completely rest will help extend it.

For a Quieter Life

Turning your computer off at night means less disturbance coming from it in terms of fan noise or enabled notifications.

Sleep vs. Hibernate

Next, we’ll look at the differences between “Sleep” and “Hibernate” and which is better for your computer in the long term.

Sleep

When your computer is in “Sleep” mode, all its hardware goes into a low-power state. All files and applications left open before entering Sleep mode are stored in the RAM (Random Access Memory) – the computer’s short-term memory. From there it’s promptly available once you’re ready to start using your computer again.

Pros

  • There is less wear and tear on the computer’s hardware that comes with turning it off and on.
  • Sleep mode is essentially a pause mode. When you’re ready to start using your computer again, you can pick up from exactly where you left off.
  • Since your computer is technically still on, any updates can still be pushed through.

Cons

  • There is a potential risk of losing data from anything saved to RAM. RAM is considered volatile since if the power is lost, anything saved to RAM will also disappear.
  • Going into Sleep mode means your computer will not gain the reset benefits from a reboot.

Hibernate

When your computer hibernates – just like in the animal kingdom, it goes into a deep long-term sleep. Your computer completely stops using power and copies all your opened files and applications to your computer’s boot drive, then essentially shuts down the rest of the computer.

Pros

  • No risk of losing your data if the power is lost since it’s saved to non-volatile memory.
  • Hibernation is a good option for when you’ll be away from your computer for a while.
  • Compared to sleep mode it doesn’t consume any energy at all.

Cons

  • Produces wear and tear on the hardware similar to turning it off and on.
  • You’re essentially restarting your computer when coming out of hibernate mode, therefore it will take some time to boot up.

Reboot With Regularity

Rebooting your computer at least once a week contributes positively to its health and can help resolve problems causing it not to work as expected. Failing to reboot regularly is likely to create problems – such as slowness and reduced efficiency. Next are some of the benefits your computer will gain from frequent reboots.

  • As additional RAM is used by different programs and processes, the computer’s performance reduces. A reboot flushes the memory and stops all tasks including those that may have caused slowness.
  • Occasionally programs don’t close fully and will continue to use memory. “Memory leaks” can also contribute to slowness. A reboot will reset these programs and stop them from using memory once closed.
  • Reboots often solve internet connection problems and are quicker than rebooting your router especially when the problem is not caused by it.
  • They help to ensure your software updates are applied correctly.

When Is It Time to Reboot?

General computer maintenance is a good excuse to reboot, especially when you haven’t done so for longer than a week. Here are some of the occasions when your computer will probably need rebooting:

  • If you’re experiencing continuous freezing and actions taking longer to respond
  • If files and applications are refusing to open
  • If the internal fans are making excessive noise
  • If your computer feels hot
  • After installing new hardware
  • After a new firmware or software update

Tips for Proper Computer Care

Correct computer maintenance equates to reliable performance and longevity. Next, we discuss some important computer care tips and how to carry them out.

Keep Your Computer Clean

We’re all guilty of having the odd snack whilst using our computers. Over time, the number of crumbs, dust, and debris accumulated in our keyboards can be shocking. Built-up dirt particles result in hard to press or stuck buttons. By using compressed air available in a can from most hardware stores, you can remove the dirt and dust from the hard-to-reach parts of your computer.

Keep Your Computer Protected

To avoid knocks and scrapes that occur from accidentally dropping your laptop or moving your PC around, always keep them protected. Protective hard-shell covers are great as they’re easy to put on and allow access to ports, fans, and all the standard gaps you’ll need access to.

Laptop sleeves are made out of soft materials and offer lightweight protection when on the move.

Keep Your Cables Organized

Prevent your computer cables from forming a nest by making time to organize and declutter them. Tools such as cable clips can help keep your cables relatively straight and not intertwined with each other. Use them to keep your cables in place by attaching them to your floor, wall, or desk.

Keep Your Operating System Updated

This is standard and one of the easiest methods for basic computer maintenance. Once updates are available having them installed on your computer helps with optimal performance.

Keep Viruses at Bay

Malware attacks have the habit of striking without warning; therefore, it is paramount to have quality antivirus software installed to protect your computer against damage caused by viruses. Making sure anti-virus scans are performed on your computer each week will clear any malicious software contagions.

Keep Your Laptop Unplugged Once Fully Charged

Leaving your laptop plugged in when fully charged causes overcharging and over time deteriorates your battery. You’ll notice that your battery won’t be able to hold its charge for as long as it did when you first purchased it. To avoid this, unplug your laptop once the battery is at 100% charge and only plug it in to charge again when the battery power is low.

Keep Your System Clean

Get rid of unused files and programs living for free on your hard drive.

These useless programs and junk files take up a lot of space. To free up space and relieve the unnecessary burden on your computer do the following to purge your system:

Additional FAQs

Common Computer Care Mistakes

Next, we’ll discuss common computer maintenance mistakes that contribute to the reduction in your computer’s lifespan.

• Poor ventilation. Any obstruction to your computer’s vents will prevent necessary airflow to keep the hardware cool. This causes the fan to work harder, and the hardware will become hot when air has nowhere to escape. Heat is a big factor in damaging components. To prevent this, avoid using your computer near a heater or where it’s exposed to the sun. Also, if using it in bed, try to stop your blanket from blocking the air vents.

• Power surges. A power surge could be caused by your refrigerator or washing machine for example. In a worst-case scenario, it can cause damage to your motherboard. Getting it repaired can be expensive. Consider using an outlet surge protector to protect your computer against a voltage surge.

• Battery care. Help preserve the life of your laptop battery by unplugging it once it’s fully charged. Also, as much as possible, let it charge completely as opposed to unplugging it halfway through. If you leave your battery plugged in after it’s 100% charged, overcharging will cause it to hold its charge less and less over time.

• Prevent physical damage. Be as careful as possible when handling your computer. Take extra care when drinking and eating, as moisture caused by spills can cause rust.

Extending Your Computer’s Lifespan

Your computer’s hardware has a limited lifespan and this length of time decreases the more work it needs to do. The less you turn your computer off, the longer it’ll last. A weekly power down is enough to reset and clear anything that could potentially cause a problem.

Now that you know the pros and cons of turning your computer off every night, what have you decided to do? Have you employed any of the maintenance tips described in this article – if so, what were they and what difference has it made? We’d love to hear about how you’re getting on – let us know in the comments section below.



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