Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Computer longevity from turning it off or leaving it on is a question without a real consensus of opinion. Not dropping it is really the best plan!
I searched your site and those of your associates and didn't find my answer. In your opinion, which will extend the life of the hard drive of a computer the longest: leaving it on or putting it to sleep or something else?
In this excerpt from Answercast #77, I look at the wear and tear that happens to a computer over time from shutting it down, going to hibernate or standby, or simply leaving it running.
The short answer is, "It depends."
Ultimately, I don't really see a whole a lot of difference between the three in the terms of lifespan.
In the case of a portable computer, how you carry it around is probably the biggest indicator of lifespan. As long as you're not banging it on walls or that kind of thing while the thing is running - that's one great way to increase the lifespan of your computer. But in terms of shutting things down, or turning things off, leaving them running, or using hibernate? In my opinion, it just doesn't make that big of a difference.
Now, I know there are going to be people who are going to be absolutely convinced that one solution or the other is absolutely what you have to do. But, once again, it's a case of: since there are so many diverging opinions, there are so many diverging priorities, that ultimately indicates to me that there is no strong consensus on the issue at all.
I mean the issue here is: when you leave something running, well, it's running. It's staying hot. The drive may keep spinning, those kinds of things. You know, yep - that will eventually wear on the computer.
On the other hand, shutting down, regardless of how you do it (shutting it down by powering it off; shutting it down with standby; shutting it down with hibernate), they're all more or less the same from a hardware perspective.
That means that the drive and the circuitry all cools down and it stops spinning - but here's the problem: cooling it down and heating it up, and cooling it down and heating it up, and cooling it down and heating it up? That too stresses the hardware. It stresses it in a different way, but it does, in fact, cause wear on the hardware.
So the computer is ongoing to die one way or another. I guess you're kind of choosing your poison.
Ultimately, I leave almost all of my machines on 24 hours a day. That's just me. It's the way I run my system. I have systems actually that rely on my computers being up 24 hours a day (mostly dealing with backup and a few other things.)
Other people are absolutely convinced that they need to turn their computer off every day so as to conserve power - that's great. The concern here that I want to be very clear about is I don't believe (and I really don't want you to walk away with a real, strong feeling) that one or another reduces the wear on the computer overall.
It doesn't in my opinion. In my opinion, all it really does is it changes the kind of wear that your computer is under going.
The only way to make your computer last longer in terms of wear is to never to turn it on at all! Unfortunately, that doesn't make it very useful - and even then, it's still going to not work after awhile because there are components that literally wear out over time.
So, ultimately, it's not something that I would spend a lot of effort and concern on. I would choose whatever model, whatever approach (turning the computer off, or on, or leaving it running) that works best for you; that is most convenient for you; that works the best with how you use your computer and how your computer is a part of your day-to-day activities.
(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)
End of Answercast #77 Back to - Audio Segment
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