Tech Point

By Terry Koehl

Being a technology service provider, I have the chance to meet many people and am given an opportunity to discuss the use of technology in their lives. One question that many have and often leads to much debate among everyone is whether you should leave a computer running all the time or turn it off when it’s not in use.

The answer is not a clear yes or no either way. Many years ago (until perhaps the early to mid 1990s) the general thought was that you should avoid turning the computer on and off as much as possible. This was due to poor power switches that could wear out, and some hardware not being resilient to the power cycles. Both issues are of no concern with today’s hardware, especially if we think of other similar devices such as televisions, which are rarely left running around the clock. This gives you the choice based upon your preferences and usage.

The biggest argument for turning the computer off is cost savings and conservation. Leaving the computer on will obviously consume more power, wasting both money and resources. If you own a business or have multiple computers in your home, this cost savings could be substantial over the course of a year.

Another reason often cited in favor of turning your computer off is that if it’s off it can’t be attacked by viruses or other malware. All of these points are valid and worth serious consideration.

On the flip side, leaving the computer on means that your system and software can check for updates, download, and even install the updates as well as perform maintenance routines. Often this is done when the computer is not being used to avoid using the computers resources at the same time you’re trying to get something accomplished.

Businesses may also wish to perform backups and other maintenance routines when the business is closed. Always turning the power off may prevent some of these important duties from ever occurring.

A prime example of this is the disk defragmenter, which from the Vista operating system on was automatically scheduled to run once a week in the middle of the night. This utility simply re-arranges data on the hard drive for higher efficiency. I’ve seen computers suffer serious performance loss because this utility was never able to run simply because of the default schedule set in Windows.

The good news is that we can now schedule most tasks to work around our schedules and allow us to still be able to conserve financial and power resources. So when it comes to the debate between you and your spouse, next of kin, co-worker, etc., my personal opinion is that you’re both right! Do whatever works for you. Use the technology to its fullest potential.

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Posted by Karen Brainard on Apr 6 2013. Filed under Columnists, Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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