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Is it better to leave your computer on all the time?

How often do you shutdown your computer ? Is it OK to leave it running 24/7 ? Should you always shut down your computer when you're not using it or should you shut it down / hibernate ?

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marked as duplicate by random, Snark, alex, Ivo Flipse Jan 20 '10 at 7:30

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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This was done properly as a CW before: superuser.com/questions/2733/… –  random Jan 20 '10 at 3:11
    
Simply follow MY answer there ;-) –  Ivo Flipse Jan 20 '10 at 7:30

5 Answers 5

I suspend my computer most of the time. I find with modern operating systems, you hardly ever need to shutdown/reboot.

Occasionally I will reboot for a driver update to take effect, or shutdown or hibernate if I need to unplug it for some reason (suspend still needs a trickle of power).

I don't like wasting power by leaving it running and not doing anything, although there is nothing wrong with leaving it running per se - you won't damage anything.

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As a energy conservation rule, if you are not using the machine, it should be powered down in some fashion: shutdown, hibernate or at least standby/suspend.

If you are going to trigger the machine into use, it could be configured to 'wakeup' on the trigger.

If you like to keep your browser open on multiple tabs,
these days firefox allows you to remember your sessions right up to the scrolled location on a page -- so, save-and-quit to restart.

Another reason to choose no-shutdown or partial-shutdown is a quicker restart.
This is when you don't like waiting for the machine to get back in action.
You could optimize your machine for a better response to work-around this limitation.

Having said all this, the other question is -- is there harm in leaving your computer up all the time?
Not over the typical lifetime of a machine.
Servers are up all time and many desk machines are up all time too.
There are usually hardware and operating system defaults that will make parts of the system slow-down or sleep when not in use to help here.

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With Windows 7, I put the PC in sleep (hybrid sleep in Vista) mode after using it. If the BIOS is set to C3 as opposed to C1 sleep mode (and most PCs nowadays are), the PC will enter a low power state just keeping enough power to the RAM, USB ports, network interface but having the hard drives, fans powered down. A tap of the keyboard or mouse or sending a magic packet through the network wakes up the PC and it is ready for use within a few seconds.

It is essentially the same with laptops running Vista/Windows 7... just close the lid without turning off the power and the laptop goes into sleep mode.

BTW, when the PC/laptop is unplugged while in sleep mode then waken up, it takes longer to to get back to the desktop as it will then read the pre-sleep "state" from disk instead of from RAM.

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I think the real answers comes from what you want out of it. Are you wanting to know because of how long the hardware will last? If so, the hardware will not be damaged by constantly running as long as it is properly maintained.

If you are wanting to know the ecological issues associated with constantly running a system then yes, its bad. Any power used that is not needed is a waste.

If you want to minimize your cost then running it when not needed is also a problem. You should reference This article and look into exactly what it costs you to run a system non stop.

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Hibernate generally takes a long time for me. I don't do it unless I have something important open and I need to move the laptop somewhere far (i.e. by car) or otherwise I know that it can't be kept plugged for some while.

If I go to sleep and don't want anyone else messing with my laptop, I just lock it (of course, my account has a password on it! (and this is linux, but windows also can have an account with a password (though most people don't do it))).

If I want to shutdown and it doesn't respond very well, I just hold the on/off button for 5 seconds.

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