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So, I need to move from my PC to other works once in a while, so I can't turn it turn it on and off every 30 minutes or so. Also, I need it to do some tasks at night, so I just leave it on.

It's been a week since I last turned it off. I know some computers like servers are on like 24/7, but is this okay for an ordinary laptop PC? I thought servers are only able to do this because they use higher-quality hardware.

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TL;DR Your system will be fine if you leave it on all the time.

Okay, I'm a system administrator and used to do field IT work. Some of the other answers seem to be a bit misinformed. I personally leave my work laptop on 24/7 and it's not a server. I also have a custom gaming rig at home that I leave on all day as well, it's current up time is 45 days. While systems will build up dust on the fans the longer you leave them on, the CPU and certain other parts are designed to slow themselves down to avoid overheating. Pets, smoking, dusty roads, and the like can increase the likely hood of dust build up. If you notice a drop in performance, a good cleaning, (OUTSIDE of your house), might help it out. Use a can of compressed air and avoid touching the electronic parts inside of the computer.

As for being on the net 24/7, that all depends. If you're on a website that refreshes itself and the ads that are displayed, then it is possible to get an infection. Closing your browsers can keep this from happening. Most of the malware I've had to remove from systems come from from the ads on websites. Using either Firefox or Chrome with Java disabled and Flashblock can reduce your chances of getting malware greatly. Internet Explorer and Edge are both jokes and I recommend you avoid them like the plague they are. One final note about being on the internet, if you are not using a router, and you're directly on the internet, then you are at risk. If your modem from your ISP only has one network cable port coming out of it and it is going directly into your computer, that probably means that you're not behind router and you're most likely exposed. While yes your computer probably does have a firewall, it's probably not going to be as good as a router's, (especially if you're only using the Windows Firewall). If you can plug your network cable into one of many ports on your modem, then you're probably fine.

As for the battery in your laptop, do NOT remove the power when the battery is fully charged. Your laptop is most likely smart enough to know when the battery is charged and it will stop charging the battery once it's full. The battery is like your phone's battery, the more you completely drain it, the faster it will wear out. If you have an external battery, such as a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), then you can remove the laptops battery altogether, which will help with the heat.

When looking at the answers about wear and tear, most of the components in PCs are like light bulbs. Turning them on and off regularly will wear them out faster than constantly leaving them on. A good number of the parts in your PC will get to at least 140°F/60°C during normal use, (CPU, GPU, certain bridge components, etc.). This is why cooling is so important. After shutting down the system they will naturally cool back down, so it's like bending a paper clip back and forth until it breaks. Capacitors are one of the bigger exceptions to this. They can wear out just by sitting there since they usually have a liquid inside of them that can leak or evaporate out.

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  • It's probably best to keep fan blades stationary with, e.g., a cocktail stick, when blowing air through them. If they're moving then the air isn't going to blow the dust off the blades, and they might spin fast enough to induce a harmful voltage in the electronics. – Andrew Morton Jul 4 '17 at 20:22
  • @AndrewMorton: No, forcibly spinning a fan isn't going to generate harmful voltage. They use brushless DC motors that don't send voltage back to the system if you spin the fan blades yourself. Practically no computer fan uses a conventional brushed motor that would do this. – bwDraco Jul 4 '17 at 23:37
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Is it OK you ask, yes. You need to consider what could happen if you do. How much you care about each possibility and cost vs. time, etc.

If you're connected to the Internet someone could hack you, hijack your Computer, and send attacks to other Computers or just snoop around. Do you want to physically disconnect from the Internet each time you turn your back, and would you know if there's a problem if you were watching; the general idea is that you don't find out until it's too late, or never.

Another consideration is fire. If it's not plugged in it's not as likely to catch fire. If it's a Laptop you can store the Batteries in a Fireproof Safe. That's why there's Underwriters Laboratories, CSA, or other decal on your Device (if you didn't import an unapproved electronic device), your Insurance Company will cover you in accordance with the Terms of the Policy you paid for.

If you don't have your Computer turned on how will you use it when you're in front of it and make 3 Backups during it's 'idle time' as often as necessary (each stored in a separate safe location), but that's a different question.

There are many things to consider, what it will cost to do or not do; penny wise or pound foolish. Sort of like asking if you should buy an expensive Computer or a cheap one.

What do I do is different from what should/could you do.

I don't usually use Laptops, times I have I've turned them off (much like I would do for a Stereo or Camera) when not in use.

I have a Cellphone (it's a Computer) and leave it on always, until the Battery dies; then I'm plugging it in and rebooting.

My Desktop stays on virtually constantly, I turn it off for repair/upgrades, power failures and the occasional vacation. I've left my Desktop on for over 10 years minus a week or two <- That's probably the answer you wanted to hear.

You'll like this unrelated point too, I seldom Backup - maybe once every couple of years (saves tons of time and leaves all the CPU power available to me). Is that a good idea, it depends on cost vs. what you're willing to lose.

Use of the "Power Saving Mode" is probably the most important thing. Along with saving money you save wear and tear. Let your HDs park/sleep when idle for 10-30 minutes (increase the time vs. how often it catches you and your waiting for it too wake up).

Favor leaving Desktops on if it during the day and you're using them (Sleep Mode is your pal). Favor turning Laptops off if you're not using them that much; it's a portable Device that you lugged somewhere so you'd best be using it. Leave your Phone on, if you expect Phone Calls, Mail, SMS, everything (including the Phone Company tracking your location) ...

So yes it's OK. Consider what happens when you do. Just because most people leave it on or off (when they're not using it) doesn't automatically make that right for you, for all occasions.

Should you leave your Car running when you go into a building, no it's illegal in most places. Does turning it on and off all the time use more gas and wear it out, yes it does. Can you get a Fob that shuts off the Gas if your Car gets a block away, yes you can (still illegal to leave it running in most places, but you'll get it back if you survive a Carjacking).

Hope that helps to more carefully consider your own situation and determine what's best for you.

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  • though i agree with you on most parts, Does turning it on and off all the time use more gas and wear it out, yes it does. is wrong at least for modern (<5 years old) cars. As of now, a pause of >3 seconds is considered to save fuel. It will wear out your starter engine, yes, but to prevent this from being an issue, manufacturers use sturdier starters for start-stop-technology. But that's just my two cents of OT-talk ;-) – flolilo Jul 4 '17 at 20:20
  • I also agree with you, on most points - mainly meant as an example or analogy. -- Diesel Engines operate at a specific speed best. Trains are left to idle in the Yard for many hours unless they are going out of service, solely to avoid wearing them out. Lightbulbs with a Filament that are subject to vibration are especially prone to burn out if turned on and off, electronics much less so due to Spike Reduction in a high quality Power Supply. Many ways to split a hair, sometimes a 'not great' analogy saves a few paragraphs - much like turning your Computer off saves Greenhouse Gas emissions. – Rob Jul 4 '17 at 22:39
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Yeah its fine to leave a laptop running 24/7 if it is not overheating or anything.

The only thing to keep in mind is that the parts in laptops have a rating based on hours. So basically, aside from wasting power, the laptop parts will slowly degrade over time from use. For most people who replace their laptop within 2-3 years this is probably not a problem.

In short, the idea that you should turn your laptop/computer off when it's not in use is simply a myth. The only thing you're doing is conserving power and giving yourself a slight inconvenience when you want to use your computer/laptop. For most it's not a big deal, and we do it simply for peace of mind.

Specifically speaking, in regards to your laptop, as long as there's adequate airflow and your device can keep itself adequately cool as to no over-heat, the only real concern would be your battery. You'd be slowly beating up your battery lessening it's effectiveness as time goes. Now in all honestly, you won't notice any difference if you did this for a month straight, and likely no difference even at 3 months straight. But as time goes on, you'll notice your battery won't hold a charge as long as it used to during day 1. But again, laptops typically have a life expectancy of 2-3yrs before they're sat aside and replaced.

Now if your laptop sits on your desk 7days out of the week, I wouldn't stress over battery degradation because you're not going portable with it anyway.

But in short, there's nothing to worry about. If you're stressing, set your laptop to go to Sleep or Hibernate after X number of minutes/hours. Personally I recommend Hibernate as opposed to Sleep, just in case the power goes out or you wake up and grab your laptop and run out the door you don't have to worry about the battery's capacity level. But that's not to say anything is wrong with Sleep.

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  • I very much agree with Atlas_Gondal about Hibernating the computer. It's a good way to turn it off when not being used, and unlike a full cold start, Hibernate does not have to load all the Services and other sub-routines when re-starting. That means it will be ready to run much faster. – the original mike western Jul 4 '17 at 19:00
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In my experience, it's okay to leave your computer on continuously. I have run my laptops nonstop for several weeks at a time with no adverse effects.

Modern computer hardware is very robust, and as long as it's properly maintained, continuous operation is generally not an issue. Nonetheless, there are a couple of potential issues with leaving a system on all the time:

  1. A PC that is constantly connected to the Internet, especially unattended, is more vulnerable to attacks such as hacking and malware infection. This should not be a problem if you have an antivirus program that continuously updates itself and provides a firewall and on-access scanning, but you might still want to turn off the Wi-Fi or other Internet connection at the computer when you're not using it.
  2. A computer can use significant amounts of electricity when it is on. To save energy, be sure to put it to sleep when you're not using it. Most laptops are configured to go to sleep when you close the lid.
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It depends on many parameters, but I will assume average conditions.

It is NOT OK to leave your PC for a week.

One issue I can think of is this: The computer collects dust. This dust can be collected in the fans. May be you will not have a problem if you leave your PC on for a week couple of times, but you may have a sudden failure of fans at a point and burn your CPU or permanently reduced its performance. This happened to me, in fact. So you are taking a major risk.

Another issue is regarding net safety. If is constantly connected to the net, you are exposing your self to hackers or other possible net viruses. Probably you PC have many programs that constantly uses net in the background, even if you do not use them. Viruses are so smart nowadays, you do not need to open a infected document to get virus. There are other methods to access computers even if you are not using it.

As you said, typical computer parts, no matter how much money you pay, are not sturdy and are not designed for longer use.

Think it this way: Will you leave all your electrical appliances on if you are leaving for a vacation for about a week?

Of course, if you have a PC that is specifically designed for staying on at longer durations and take necessary precautions, such as cleanign, that is a different story. However, conventional PCs are not designed for that and average users can not pay attention to they PCs during busy schedule of work. Also if you want to access it from a different location using programs such as TeamViewer during a one week travel to a job site, that is also a different story. You may do it once or twice.

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  • I don't think that a PC will collect more dust during the one unattended week than during one attended week. So if I clean the computer one day before leaving it alone it would have to be very, very dusty in my appartment for the fans/heat sinks to congest. Also, modern computers should shutdown in case of fan failures - but TBH, that's difficult to test for. Then there's this: As you said, typical computer parts, no matter how much money you pay, are not sturdy and are not designed for longer use. - and what makes you think this is true? true for HDDs, wrong for literally everything else. – flolilo Jul 4 '17 at 18:48
  • Please note the "Average conditions". Average user cannot pay attention to his/her PC like a IT specialist, during busy schedule of work. – berkus Jul 4 '17 at 19:29
  • Sometimes cleaning fans and heat sinks from excessive dust isn't what I would call a specialist-only-task: it's regular maintenance that usually is easily doable. And if one can't, just once in a year one should be able to afford going to someone who can do that. – flolilo Jul 4 '17 at 20:13
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    -1 from me, because this is a bit farfetched to be honest. – LPChip Jul 4 '17 at 20:20
  • Fair enough for the -1 – berkus Jul 4 '17 at 20:49

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