It’s one of those debates which seem to be going on forever in the technology and computing community: should you leave your PC on all the time, or is it better to turn it off when you’re not using it?
As with all good discussions, both sides have pretty compelling arguments and in this post we’re going to break it all down for you:
Why leave your computer on all the time?
1. For convenience
Admittedly, this isn’t a particularly substantive argument, though it is the reason mostly cited by those who prefer to never turn off their computer.
Starting your computer usually takes around a minute – which doesn’t sound like much, but it is time you could be spending actually doing something instead of watching the screen or pacing aimlessly around the room.
You might also want to consider waking up your computer from Sleep mode, which takes just a few seconds and also has the benefit of still having all your programs and applications open and running.
2. You will never lose access your computer
If you keep your computer on all the time, you will be able to run some programs you definitely couldn’t otherwise. One example of this is Remote Desktop on Windows, or a similar third-party tool like LogMeIn.
These kinds of programs allow you to access your computer remotely from a different device (like another computer, a smartphone, or a tablet), allowing you to use all the programs and files on your home PC from wherever you may be.
3. It will keep your computer up to date
There are plenty of tasks your computer needs to perform in order to stay up to date and function at the best possible parameters.
Since they almost always eat up a lot of your system’s resources, it is best to let the run at night or when you’re not at home or using the computer.
Things like installing updates, scanning for malicious software, backing up your system, or transferring large amounts of data can all take quite some time and seriously disrupt your normal computer activity – which is why you should probably do them while you’re not using your PC for anything else.
Why you should turn off your computer when you’re not using it
1. It prolongs the life of your hardware
As you can probably imagine, every piece of hardware in your computer only has so much time before it breaks down – the limited lifespan is just part of how things work.
Every extra hour you monitor stays on, every time you recharge your laptop battery, and program/erase cycle on your hard drive brings those components closer to the point they break down.
While this usually happens long after those things become obsolete and you decide to replace them, leaving your computer definitely doesn’t help with prolonging their lifespan.
2. It’s energy inefficient
Even if you turn off the speakers and the monitor, your computer still uses power if it is left on – that much is pretty obvious. But how much power are we talking about?
Well, a 21.5-inch Mac consumes 56 watts during moderate use, a figure which goes down to 44 watts after being idle for a few minutes, to 18 watts when the screen is off, to just a single watt while in Sleep mode.
As you can see, power consumption drops to about a third after turning the screen off, but it still uses quite a lot of power. Sleep mode is the most efficient alternative, but that’s not really keeping your computer turned on, isn’t it?
3. Restarting your computer can improve its performance
Sometimes, after several hours of heavy use which may have involved multiple programs, tools, and services, your computer simply starts running noticeably slower.
At that time, it’s probably best to simply reboot it, or turn it off altogether and leave it like that for a few minutes, to “cool off”.
A fresh start can also allow the system to fix various bugs and other issues, so the improvement in performance could be quite significant.
4. It greatly diminishes risks from power surges and power cuts
While not very common, power surges and power cuts can cause serious damage to all electrical devices, especially the very sensitive components which make up a computer.
There are ways to protect yourself against these things, however. You can, for example, get a surge protector and plug your PC into it.
It’s a lot more difficult to take measures against power cuts – things like an uninterruptible power supply do exist, but they aren’t actually intended for use by the general public. To minimize the risk from both these issues, it’s better to just turn off your computer when you’re not really using it.
5. It’s quieter
For most of us used to sitting at a desk near a computer almost all day, the hum of the machine has become something akin to white noise – you barely notice it’s there. However when you turn the PC off at the end of the day, you certainly notice the difference!
As we tend to find most of the times, there’s no real clear winner in this debate. You shouldn’t randomly stop what you are doing to restart your computer a few times a day, nor should you have any qualms about leaving it on while you’re away in order to perform a thorough antivirus scan or to transfer some files.
At the end of the day, you should probably find a balance between the two, depending on your needs, and we hope the arguments presented above have helped you with this decision.