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I have my iPod syncing/charging right now. Is it safe to keep the device plugged into the laptop via the USB cable and close the lid and allow it to go into sleep or hibernate mode?

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No harm. The device won't charge, but there's no danger involved (other than accidentally pulling the device off the table when you pick up the laptop). –  Daniel R Hicks Mar 28 '12 at 3:49

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While in sleep mode, laptop still consumes some power. Therefore, your iPod is charging as well, so when you resume - it is still charging :D

No damage at all :D

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Sometimes this is correct. Often, not all usb ports are actively charging ports when in sleep mode. If you see a lightning bolt symbol next to just one of your port openings, you need to be using that specific port for this to be true. –  zero2cx Sep 20 '12 at 19:36

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