When your computer is not in use, do you shut it down, put it to sleep, or just keep it turned on?
In working with clients, it’s come to my attention that many people don’t completely shut down their computers from time to time. Letting your computer just go to sleep night after night can cause problems. For the average user, I recommend shutting it down completely, at least once a week. The same applies to mobile gadgets like tablets and phones. (See below for more details.)
If any of your techie tools are acting a little weird and slowing down, they may just need a reboot (shutdown and restart). Try rebooting and then call me if that doesn’t work.
I hope you have found this tip useful and that you will forward it to others so they too, can more fully enjoy the benefits of computer technology.
Pros and Cons
The advantage to putting it to sleep is that it provides the easiest and fastest way to resume work while minimizing wear and tear on the hardware. The computer goes to sleep instantly and when it wakes up, all of your open apps, documents, window arrangements, and web pages, are exactly where you left off with almost no delay. For average users who want to quickly get back to what they were doing, sleeping is perfect.
- Pros: Quickly resume exactly where you left off; sleep and wake can be scheduled or even done remotely
- Cons: Minor power consumption; system temp fluctuations, swap, and cache files don’t get cleared out during as during a reboot process; system updates requiring reboots don’t install automatically and need a manual reboot; performance is best for computers with 4GB RAM or more
If you use your computer every day, simply putting it to sleep when it’s not in use or overnight is probably the best choice. Just be sure to reboot every once in awhile to allow system software updates to install. Waiting for an operating system Update or Security Update is generally a sufficient time between reboots.
Shutting it down isn’t necessary unless it’s going into a longer term state of inactivity or storage. Shutting down is slower because all the open applications and documents have to quit; and when you turn the machine back on, everything has to re-open again to get back to where you were prior to shutdown.
- Pros: Saves power, doesn’t strain hardware; system temp, memory, swap, and cache files get cleared out during boot; allows for major system updates to install
- Cons: Takes a while to boot up and resume previous activity
For the power conscious or for those trying to squeeze the absolute longest lifespan out of hardware and hard disks, shutting down when not in use is the best choice. This is also necessary if you’re going to put your computer in long term storage, won’t be using it for a longer than a few days, or you’re going to be traveling and not using it during the travel period.
Leaving a computer constantly turned on is best reserved for computers that function as servers. On the plus side, you don’t have to bother resuming anything since it’s already on, you can schedule all maintenance and backup tasks to occur in the wee hours of system inactivity, and it allows for a server or media center to be running on the machine. The downside is the constant power consumption and the constantly active hardware, which can limit overall lifespans of the computer components.
- Pros: No waiting for use; instantly resume all apps and tasks exactly where you left off; allows for servers to run with constant accessibility; backup and system maintenance tasks can be scheduled for off hours
- Cons: Constant power consumption; more wear and tear on hard drives, fans, and physical hardware due to possible heat
For the casual user, it’s best to put it to sleep when it’s not in use. It gives hard drives and fans a rest, and will generally lead to a longer lifespan of the computer.