Ask the Tekspert: What’s Best For My Computer’s Health?


Need computer help? Every week, our Tekspert answers one question about digital technology. Computers, phones, cameras, tablets… 

To keep my PC running well for longer, should I turn it off after I’ve used it, or just put it to sleep?

In my opinion, a computer should bend to the will of its owner, not the other way around. Therefore, if turning your computer off every time you step away from it makes you happy, that’s the right answer. If just putting it to sleep is better for you, that’s what I would recommend. Neither will affect your machine’s longevity – your PC will be obsolete long before you see any effects –but there are pros and cons to each method.

Putting a computer to sleep lets you quickly resume what you were working on – or playing. No need to find that Word doc or website all over again; they’re right there, waiting for you. And no need to wait while the computer starts up. The drawback of just putting your computer to sleep is its energy usage. Most computers use zero to six watts sleep mode. Not a lot, but certainly more electricity, and more money, than a computer that’s powered off.

I rarely turn my computer off. When I do, it’s for one of these reasons:

  • After performing a software update (you’ll probably see an alert telling you the update will be activated after you restart, and asking if you want to restart now or later).
  • When I begin to notice that my PC is getting sluggish, which is a sure sign that  the computer’s been on for an extended period of time.  Restarting speeds it up again.
  • When I know the computer will be jostled. If I am bringing the computer with me on a bumpy ride, for example, I’ll always make sure I have turned it off. This provides a little extra protection for my hard drive. Leaving a machine on while it’s getting knocked around increases the risk of hard drive failure.
  •  When I know I’ll be away from the computer for more than a day.

As long as you’re somewhat careful with your sleeping computer, there’s no harm in letting it sleep between sessions. And, there’s absolutely no harm in turning it on and off frequently. That said, if you’re turning your computer on more than twice a day, try putting it to sleep instead for a few days. I think you might like it. —TIM

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One response to “Ask the Tekspert: What’s Best For My Computer’s Health?

  1. I did know how to transfer photos from my camera to PC to allow me to send as attachment in an e-mail with Jasca.

    Jasca has disappeared and I now have Picassa which is a mystery. Can someone show me in detail, as the link from phone, how this can be done.

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