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While I understand that there is no need to reboot Windows server often, what about Windows 7 designed for home/office use? Should I reboot it every night?

The article here says that there is no need to reboot Windows 7 often, but is there any downside in really rebooting it often? Will reboot-often hurt my computer more in the long run?

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This might once have been true back in the Windows 95 era, but it's not any more. You can leave a Windows 7 PC running for weeks, and avoid rebooting with hibernate/suspend. –  pjc50 May 15 '12 at 9:42
    
I loved the hibernation feature that XP introduced! It allowed me to shut down the system at night without having to rush and finish up with the programs and documents I was still working with; so I could go to sleep when I got tired, not when I finished working. (No, standby is not the same because if the power happens to go out in the middle of the night you're toast; whereas with hibernate, you the power can go out, you can unplug it, even mess around with components like doing upgrades—though that part's not advised—without problem.) Windows 7's hybrid mode is a mix of the two. –  Synetech May 15 '12 at 22:39
    
Oh, and even with Windows 7, you still have to reboot when doing most updates, and even without updates, you still benefit from flushing the system since every computer system accumulates cruft while running. –  Synetech May 15 '12 at 22:41
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5 Answers

There is no need to reboot Windows 7 used in the home/office for the same reasons you don't need to reboot Windows servers.

There is a downside in rebooting often when you have mechanical harddrives. The most wear any mechanical object experiences is during start and stop. By rebooting often, you'll decrease their lifespan. Think about your car. Trips with lots of stop and go traffic tend to degrade your car faster, although you probably only notice how it really degrades your oil faster.

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It's more important than thinking about cars to think about what actually happens during the reboot process. A warm reboot doesn't necessarily actually spin down (non-USB) hard disc drives in the first place. Similarly, hard disc drives can be spun down whilst the system is in normal operation, if the power policy specifies that. –  JdeBP May 27 '11 at 9:05
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Are you really asking if you should reboot at night? Usually the question is either whether shut down at night or to reboot at all, not specifically rebooting at night. I'll address both.

Shutting down at night is useful and recommended for most users. Unless you are running servers on your system, then there is no practical reason to leave it on at night. Not only does it waste electricity, but the lights interfere with biorhythms which provide for lesser quality sleep. Further, it adds extra wear on the system in a few ways, for example, the hard-drive records the number of hours that it has been running. Also, if something bad happens (e.g., for some reason the system comes under load, leading to it heating up; a virus attack, OS problem, rain, etc.), it will not be attended to in a timely manner since you are asleep which can damage it unnecessarily.

Rebooting is completely different. Some people recommend doing it now and then while others think it is normally unnecessary. The truth is somewhere in between. Obviously rebooting is inconvenient, especially when you have programs running. On the other hand, a nice fresh boot is indeed good because numerous processes will end up starting during the course of usage that are not run at startup. These extra processes are not always necessary and trying to end them manually can be a hassle. Worse, like it or not, memory leaks do exist, and there is no practical way to flush everything to get that just-booted new-system smell, uh, I mean feeling. In the end, it is up to you. Unless rebooting is required (such as after installing programs or Windows updates), then you can manual do so if you feel the system is getting sluggish or after you finish using large, resource-hungry programs.

There is no need to reboot at night, and can even be avoided while using a system if you shut down at night. That way, each day you start up, any required changes from the night before are automatically done, and you start with a fresh system that should usually last until you shut down at night.

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It won't hurt Win7 in any way to leave it on continuously. I am surprised that this conversation is still happening. It hasn't been really necessary since NT, and in general mine are "up" except for the frequent hibernate/sleep cycles. Never rebooted. Before that, they just stayed on 24/7 to no ill effect.

It would be a good idea to hibernate it at night, just to save power, if you want to leave it on. If you are having issues with lots of poorly behaved programs, then restarting can clear all that out, so it might benefit you. With "normal" windows, no bad guys installed, then not a need.

  • There are lots of sources here talking about hard drive MTBF, Spin cycles, etc. Search. In general, don't bother worrying about this part.
  • If a power surge happens, it is better that the system is already off (or the hdd parked), to avoid damage. A equal danger is brown-outs damaging other system components.
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It has downsides and upsides.

Upside: your ram will be empty for a moment and no matter what the sales people say, you DO notice an improvement in your performance with that.

Downside: Your hard drive will have a slightly lesser lifespan. (if it is no ssd)

If you do not turn it off for several hours there is no real upside to it then a slight performance increase

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You're thinking of shutting down, not rebooting which has no effect on drive lifespan. Turning the system on and off over and over unnecessarily will wear it out a little faster, though even then, turning it off each night not only saves electricity, but wears the drive little enough that you will likely upgrade it long before it actually fails (unless you are turning it on and off repeatedly very fast which is likely to kill anything anyway). –  Synetech May 14 '12 at 23:44
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Heavy PC users should reboot once a day. Moderate PC users once every few days and light PC users reboot only when needed.

Everyone should reboot anytime they think it's needed, like when your PC is running slowly. The benefits of frequent reboots outweigh any disadvantages.

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Why on earth? I should be rebooting every day? I am a "heavy" user... a developer. Still have never needed it, ever. –  Andrew Backer May 15 '12 at 8:53
    
Can you be more specific as to what OS requires that and why? I'm a heavy PC user and I reboot once every 6 months or so, but I am also using SUSE. I reboot my Lion box about the same. I wouldn't reboot my Win7 box very much, but domain policy forces the issue at times, though it still is only once every few months. I spend 8-10 hours a day moving between these three machines. If I rebooted daily that would be a huge waste of my time. –  MaQleod Oct 19 '12 at 23:28
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