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Which is the best for the "longevity" of your hardware, when done on a daily basis?

Should I use sleep, hibernate or shut down?

EDIT:

As evident in some of the answers, the answer seems to vary by OS and computer type.

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I've always done shutdown, but I don't have a definitive reason why it's better. I have never had a computer last less than 6 years –  hbdgaf Nov 8 '10 at 14:21

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Although I don't have any references to document it, I've heard tech pundits commenting that the industry is moving away from any kind of hard shutdown in favor of devices which just sleep or go into standby mode. Even if your computer is "completely" shut down, there's a good chance that it has wake-on-LAN or similar functions enabled by default which require it to be actively monitoring some source of input for a wakeup signal, thus preventing it from being 100% powered down. Unless you take this as evidence of some sort of conspiracy to wear components out faster so that they'll need to be replaced sooner, it seems pretty clear that the hardware manufacturers do not believe that a total shutdown is ever necessary.

My personal practices, then, are:

  • For laptops, I use sleep mode more-or-less exclusively. I close the lid when I'm done using them for the day and, when I open the lid the next morning, they're back up and running within a second or two.

  • For stationary machines, I do none of the above. I just leave them running 24/7.

The only times I reboot (hard or soft) are to switch operating systems, to install/replace hardware, or when the OS starts slowing down due to accumulated resource leakage (usually takes a couple months on OSX or the better part of a year on Linux; I don't think I've ever gotten Windows to this point without first either needing to reboot to finish installing something or being forced to reboot to recover from a game crashing).

This has not adversely affected reliability or lifespan of my hardware. On the contrary, I routinely keep machines active for 5+ years and retire them in favor of more powerful hardware well before hardware starts to fail. Exceptional cases aside (e.g., being dropped in transit, severe overheating due to the room temperature exceeding 100F), I've never had a critical hardware failure on a box under a decade old.

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Consider this : If you send the computer to sleep (everything held in the RAM), and there is a power failure, all is lost. If you place the computer in hibernate, everything is written to disk and when you start the computer everything will be as it was when you went into hibernate. In addition, hibernate doesn't use any electricity and lets all components have a rest.

There is also the new Hybrid sleep feature, which saves any open documents and programs to memory and to your hard disk, and then puts your computer into a low-power state, so is the best features of both modes.

Shutting-down means that Windows will be freshly booted. Windows may experience problems if it is kept on for too many days.

For conclusion: I suggest Sleep or better Hybrid sleep (if available in your Windows version) during the day, and shut-down for the night. But hibernate is preferable over Sleep if you have unsaved documents.

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Actually, I'm on a Mac Laptop, your answer seems to be dealing with Windows desktops. –  Moshe Nov 11 '10 at 0:03
3  
You should specify such parameters in your questions. –  harrymc Nov 11 '10 at 8:27
    
Hibernating takes much longer than just sleeping though. –  Pacerier Oct 4 at 23:01

With my two desktops one is on 24x7 and the other is used daily and put in Sleep mode when i am done with it. I have not experienced any issues with either mode and i would venture to say the MTBF for any component for either on them is 5+ years, so it is hard to say which is better for the hardware.

my suggestion is to just use whichever mode best suites your needs and lifestyle and stick with that.

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I've been hibernating/shutting down for years on a daily basis (and often more than once a day) without any problems whatsoever. My current computer is 3.5 years old. The one before than was nearly 5 years old. Never had a component die or misbehave.

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