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  • Writer's pictureSteven Burstyn

Should I Turn My Computer Off at Night?

There are times when a computer can benefit from being rebooted. However, it is not necessary to shut down your computer every night. If you have Unfrustrating Computers managing your computer, including patches and updates, then we suggest you keep your computers on overnight. This allows us to install patches and other fixes after hours when you are not using your computer. If you have your computer off, the installation may start when you turn your computer on, which can slow down your computer, then interrupt you with a message that your computer needs to be rebooted to complete an important patch installation.

Depending on the patches that need to be installed, if you have them installed during the day, the process can interrupt your work for several minutes or more if it is a significant update. Besides patches, we will also scan your computer for errors and run essential maintenance, which can slow your computer if it is done while you are trying to work.

This does not mean you need to keep your computer on 24/7/365. There is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping your computers on even over the weekend. We actually recommend that you keep your computers on. Some people do choose to shut down if they are going to be away from the office for an extended business trip or a vacation.

If you have servers at your location, these systems must remain on at all times. Data on servers is backed up and protected overnight. Even if you are not actively using the server over the weekend, servers perform maintenance and other processes that safeguard the data and health of the system.

Many people like to shut their computers to save electricity or preserve the computer and avoid any failures. The truth is that a computer draws negligible power. The average computer costs about 60 cents a day to run.

Computer hardware has vastly improved over the years. Hardware failure still happens, but not at the rate we have seen in the past.

If you were to put hardware failures on a graph, you would see the Bathtub Curve. The Bathtub Curve is a curve that is higher on both ends and lowers in the center. If a computer is going to have a hardware failure, the Bathtub Curve means that the failure will happen very early on in the life of the computer or after several years of use.

A computer with an issue at the beginning of its life had a problem in the manufacturing process. Unfortunately, many of these issues come to the surface only after the computer is being used regularly. Once you get through the first few weeks of use, and the computer is “burned in” (a period that determines that a computer is working correctly), the observed failure rate is low for a time. After a couple of years, parts tend to suffer from fatigue and wear-and-tear and can begin to fail. These failures have very little to do with a computer being kept on overnight.

It has been said that the worst thing you can do to a computer is turning it on. The thought is that the jolt of electricity through the system boards can cause a problem to the electronics. While this may be technically true, the risk is very minimal. The chance of a surge during start-up is extremely low. Shutting down and turning on a computer was more of an issue several years ago, however, the issue was a greater chance of hard drive failure. New hard drive head “parking” technology makes this less of an issue. If your computer has a solid-state drive, as we discussed last month, then this is not an issue at all.

If you have any questions about your computer and whether it should be on or off overnight, give us a call.

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