Should you keep your desktop computer on 24/7, or you should turn it off when you are done using it for the day? There are two schools of thought on this subject.
There are only a few components in your computer that have moving parts. Your power supply, processor fan, hard drive and possibly your graphic card fan (for upper-end models). These parts are designed for continuous use, but over time they can fail due to excessive use. However, most parts today have the ability to turn themselves off. For instance, there are power supplies that keep their extractor fans off and only turn them on when the internal temperature of your computer gets to a certain threshold. In addition, your hard drive has the option of going to “sleep” when you are not using your computer after a certain period of time. Keeping your computer running 24/7 does consume electricity, however putting your computer to “sleep” or “hibernating” it significantly cuts down on components wear and tear, and will significantly reduce its energy consumption.
So why would you keep your system running day and night? Well, here’s the flip side of the coin.
Have you heard the phrase “turning on your car is the worst thing you can do to the engine”? The same goes for any electrical appliance. Just think about a light bulb in your home. Have you ever seen one burn out while it was on, or did it burn out when you flipped the switch on the wall? The reason why it’s more apt for the bulb to burn out when you turn it on, is because it’s going from its off (cold state) to on. A spike of energy surges through its poles to power the element. This surge of energy or “spike” is what causes the bulb to burn out. The same applies to computers, which have MANY electrical components. When you turn your computer on, electricity surges through all of it components. Each time this happens, there is a chance that a component part will “burn out”. So the question is, do you risk your parts dying from overuse, or do you risk them dying from electrical surges? Personally, I leave my computers running 24/7. In my experience, out of all the computers I have owned (and that’s a lot), I have only replaced one power supply that was already six years old. The choice is yours.
If you do choose to keep your system on all day, it’s recommended that you restart you computer every other day or so. Every time you open a program, it takes up some of your working memory that the computer uses to process your actions. I’m not talking about your hard drive space, which is physical storage space. Some programs are not as “clean” as others and will not return the full amount of memory it used when it opened. Suppose you had a pool of memory that was 100 units in size. You open program “A”, which uses 10 units of memory, and when you close it, it only returns 8 units. You now have effectively 98 units of available memory left even though you started with 100 units. After opening and closing many programs, your pool of available memory will dwindle over time. Eventually your computer will slow and some programs may not work as well, or will take a long time to open. You can avoid this from happening by rebooting your computer every so often.
I have experienced so many problems after all these years of tech support, that were easily resolved with the famous statement “REBOOT YOUR COMPUTER”!!!
Have any of the following situations ever happened to you? You just installed some new software and it does not start up properly. A program you are running will not shut down or is very slow to respond. You copied a file to a folder and when you check the folder, the file appears to be missing. You installed a printer and it won’t print, or a printer you have been using mysteriously stops printing. Probably these and many others like these have plagued you at some time or another.
There are many reasons why any one of these problems can occur. Diminishing memory reserves as explained above, software conflicts, router issues, over-heated components, and the list goes on. For PC users, if you can’t restart your computer using the Restart option from the Start Menu, then you may have to give your system the three-finger-salute (CTRL + ALT + DELETE) and use the Task Manager to shut the system down. As a last resort, press and hold (for about 5 seconds) the power button on the computer until the system turns off. This is the least desirable method of turning off a computer, since doing this can corrupt your operating system, program application files and documents. Save yourself some time and money, perform a reboot or turn off your computer and see if the problem persists. If you are still having issues, then it’s worth calling someone for help, but many of your common problems can be resolved by restarting your computer.