That is the question! A lot of people wonder whether it is best to shut down your computer when not in use, and most articles you read will go into extended detail one way or the other. However, IT Radix likes to get to the point: you decide!

The great thing with computers nowadays is that not only can they withstand a tremendous amount of use, they also attempt to help its own lifespan by using the hibernate function. The hibernate function works as a method of reducing power consumption. It essentially takes all running apps and puts them into standby mode, and then the RAM and storage devices are powered off until you return. This works in your favor because it means even if you leave your computer turned on 24/7, unless you turn hibernate mode off, your computer will attempt to conserve as much power and longevity as possible.

The frequency of shutting down your computer depends a lot on the age of the hardware

However, there are optimal environments for your computer. In the computer’s infancy, turning it off when it is not in use will not harm the computer—in fact it makes it stronger. The consensus is that when a computer is brand new and still in the “under warranty” phase, the components of the computer are less likely to be affected by powering it on and off and are far more capable of detecting failures quicker and fixing them much faster.

This makes its “teenage to adult” years generally unproblematic—you can leave it on or shut it off with no problem. The problem with turning a computer off and on daily mostly occurs later in life when the components are reaching their limit. At this point, when a computer is getting older it is best to leave it on 24/7 so there are no failures upon start-up that may be more difficult for the computer to combat like it would have in its infancy.

So, should you turn it off or leave it on? Well, it is up to you. If it is a new computer, shut it off when it is not in use; if it is older, keep it on. IT Radix also recommends that regardless of age, you should keep your machine logged off but turned on once a week (Thursday or Friday nights are best) so that patching can occur.

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First published in our October 2020 IT Radix Resource newsletter