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Is unplugging the power from a PC in standby or in normal mode bad for it?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Unplugging a computer at random times is never a good idea. Standby on a computer is a mode where the state of the Operating System, Windows for most cases, is placed in the RAM on the computer. RAM only holds memory as long as it has powered applied to it. Unplugging the computer, while in standby mode, will have the same result as if you unplugged it while running normally.

Problems that can occur from unplugging a computer, in standby or running normal, can include but are not limited to...

  • Windows Corruption (or your flavor of Operating System)
  • Filesystem Corruption (the way your files are stored on the harddrive)
  • Program Corruption (Any program that was running when power is lost, may not recover)
  • Data Loss, any file that is open when power is lost may get corrupted or not have been saved
  • Hardware Damage (Hard drives didn't spin down, park Read/Write Heads correctly, flash drives may be in the middle of a write operation)

Always shutdown or hibernate your machine when you can, only do a Reset (or unplug the computer from the wall) when your machine is locked up.

Trust me, waiting the 5 to 10 extra minutes for a computer to shutdown gracefully is worth it when pulling the plug can create many hours of headaches and problems.

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There are times when 5 or 10 additional minutes simply aren't available, unfortunately. – David Thornley Feb 17 '10 at 21:56
@David this is true :( – Urda Feb 17 '10 at 23:40
@DavidThornley - In theory all Urda said is possible/true. However, a lot of times my laptop just loses the battery juice while in standby on my way from work (quite a way, though) and I've still to encounter anything more annoying than eventually losing a few minutes of work. So in these cases, theory differs from practice quite a bit. – Rook Oct 20 '11 at 14:00

Short answer: Yes

It's better to hit the restart/reboot button, or to shut it down by holding the power button down for (usually) 5 - 10 seconds.

Actually unplugging it causes a small electrical short which can cause a power spike. If your power supply is good, no real problems - it'll blow before your computer does. If it's not so good, well, your computer might short out, and die.

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I was informed that holding the power button down is the same as cutting the power - when I used to believe that it was "safe". I don't know what to believe now. – ChrisF Feb 17 '10 at 18:58
@ChrisF: Not with ATX (any power supply since 2000) it isn't - this sends a "disconnect all power now" signal to the power supply, which does that in a somewhat controlled manner; pulling the plug is definitely beyond the suplly's control. Very old computers (AT power supplies) used to have the actual power supply wire routed through a hardware power switch at the front, but I haven't seen one of those for a few years, at least. – Piskvor Oct 20 '11 at 14:05

Unplugging the power at random from a computer is always a bad idea. It could cause hardware problems.

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Why is it bad for pc? explain please – amouniverso Feb 17 '10 at 16:01
Amouniverso, take a look at my comment. I give plenty of examples for your question. – Urda Feb 17 '10 at 18:45

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protected by ChrisF Oct 20 '11 at 13:13

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