Sunday, May 1, 2011

Should I Turn My Computer Off At Night?

This is a very common question.  The answer to the question depends on why you are asking the question.  Let’s first talk about the reasons to ask the question:
·         Some people ask this question because they are concerned with cost of electricity
·         Some people want to know if the computer will last longer if they use it less
·         Some are worried that the computer is more likely to get a virus or spyware if it is left on

Of course, leaving your computer on all the time uses more electricity than turning it off when you are not using it.  So, for conservation of resources, you should turn off your computer when not in use.  But, as with most decisions, there are two sides to the story.  Turning off the computer when you are done with it inconveniences you; you have to wait for the computer to turn on every time you want to use it.  What does this convenience cost you?  With some research, the expected cost to power a computer, monitor, and printer for a full year is about $200.  If you leave the computer on for only eight hours per day, you could expect to save about $130 per year.  Only you can decide if it is worth it to you to turn it off when you are not using it.

Will your computer last longer if you turn it off?  Most studies conducted concerning the longevity of hardware have been inconclusive.  The number of computers that fail sooner and the number of computers that last longer are about the same if you turn off the computer each night.  Meaning that, in general, turning off your computer is not likely to change how long it lasts.  Of course, your mileage may vary.

Is your computer more likely to get a virus or spyware if you leave it on all the time?  If your computer is properly protected with a firewall or router, length of time left on will not impact the number of spyware or virus' it attracts.

But, before you jump to a decision, there is one more thing to consider.  There are many tasks that computers run each night to maintain the system’s health.  Most Anti-virus and Anti-spyware packages are set up to do a preventative scan each night if the computer is on.  If you are using a Windows PC, it checks for updates to Windows during the night.  So for technical reasons, you should leave your computer on overnight on a regular basis.  I recommend that you leave the computer on overnight once per week (different days each week are okay, it is okay to skip a week or two).  Any more than that is up to you.

Contact Robert by E-mail or call me 858-449-1749.

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