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Is it best to leave a computer running constantly, or to switch it off when it is not in use ?

by Tom Cumming


Arguments in favour of leaving it running constantly:

1) You do not have to wait for your PC to boot up when you wish to use it.
2) The PC will last longer: stopping and starting wears out various parts of the machine more quickly.
3) You will not miss incoming faxes or voicemails, if you use your PC for either of these functions.
4) When you go to use your PC, it will be in the state you left it when you last finished, not back at the windows desktop.

Arguments in favour of switching off after use:

1) Saves electricity.
2) Will make your PC perform faster. The reason is that some applications are not very good at releasing the memory they have used once they have finished with it, and so the computer gradually runs out of memory. This is more of a problem on the Windows 95, 98, ME series of operating systems: it is not a major issue with the Windows NT, 2000, XP line, or in Linux, as these have far superior memory management.
3) Saves your PC from being at risk of damage from power surges, spikes or cuts when it is not in use. However if you have a UPS (Uninterruptable power supply) this is less of an issue.
4) The argument above that your PC will last longer, is negated by the fact that most people will upgrade or replace their PC years before this effect is noticeable.
5) The continuous noise may disturb you. This of course depends on how noisy your PC is.

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