TUCOWS ARTICLE

Should I Leave my Computer On or Turn it Off?

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who swear you should turn off your computer after each use, and those who just as adamantly insist you should leave it on. What's a computer user to do?
Published: Aug 25, 2005
Author: Michael E, Callahan

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who swear you should turn off your computer after each use and those who just as adamantly insist you should leave it on. What's a computer user to do?

The argument for leaving it on is that computers don't use that much electricity, and that the wear and tear on moving parts is less. First of all, not using the switch protects it from wearing out. And some argue that letting your hard disk spin at a constant speed is better for it and your data than letting it wind up and down (and the really geeky at heart love to see the little LED lights in a dark room at night.)

The argument for turning it off is that it uses less electricity and is less prone to power surges when turned off. There is less wear on your hard drive when it is not spinning, and what are the chances of wearing out your switch anyway?

As far as I know there is no scientific proof that one way is better than the other. But I do know that hard drives and switches wear out on computers that run all the time and on computers that are turned off after each use. Let's face it: if you spun at 7,200 revolutions per minute you'd wear out eventually and probably a lot sooner than your hard disk will. Even if you work out!

I know people who turn off their machines and those who don't. They all report the same successes and failures. Either way it's a good idea to back up. Here's the thing: if you live in Florida where hurricanes can affect the power company it is a good idea to turn off your computer when you're not using it. And maybe unplug it. If you live in Lansing, NY where we have occasional mini-blackouts for a minute or less every so often an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), reasonably priced at a local electronics store, is good enough protection that you can leave your machine on. The UPS will keep your machine running for up to 20 minutes. In fact I plug our modem into it as well and can keep an Internet connection live for as long as the battery will last.

In other words, lightning: bad! Relative calm: good.

Which camp am I in? Well, I have two computers in my office and I leave one on all the time, and turn off the other one. I suppose you could say I am of two minds. And both computers work just fine.


About Michael E, Callahan

Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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