Should I Turn My Computer Off Before I Leave?

By: Stephanie Petrashko

There is lots of discussion in the IT industry about whether shutting down your computer or leaving it on is better for your machine’s life. Here are the pros and cons of each.

Shutting Down


Windows updates - It is important for you to shut down or restart your computer periodically to install Windows updates. These make your computer faster and safer.

Fewer system issues - Those who keep their machines booted up indefinitely may be familiar with minor problems that arise when their computer is in use for a long time, which are often solved by a reboot. Rebooting regularly gives your machine a fresh start and helps to avoid minor system issues.

Lower electrical consumption - Shutting your machine down when it isn't in use will prevent excessive and unnecessary use of power and save you money on your electric bill.

Reduced noise – The sound of the fan can be bothersome if you’re sleeping near your computer. Unless you remember to mute your sound every night, you also run the risk of your computer playing an alert or other sound unexpectedly.

Longer-lasting machine - Less activity and stress placed on your computer can help it last longer.


Inconvenience – For most people, the inconvenience of closing all your windows at the end of each day and waiting for your machine to boot up the next morning is the biggest disadvantage of shutting down. If you also turn off your office machine and want to connect to it from home later, for example, you won’t be able to because it's offline.

Leaving It On


Your machine is always ready to use – Having no boot-up sequence saves time the next morning.

Your computer can work while you sleep - This is a great opportunity for your computer to perform intensive tasks while you sleep so they won't encumber your work. It can perform software updates, virus scans and backups, and virtually anything else you schedule it to do.


Wasted energy - In addition to increasing your ecological footprint, running your computer 24/7 also results in a higher electrical bill. A typical desktop and monitor may consume 250 watts. If you use your system for eight hours every day, the other 16 hours it is left on would be wasted energy. If electricity costs 13 cents per kilowatt-hour, then 16 hours represents $0.52/day. 52 cents per day adds up to $190 per year in unused electricity. Don’t forget that your printer and speakers use power, too!

What about screen savers, dimming your display, sleep mode and hibernating?

Don’t rely on screen savers to save on energy. Screen savers were initially invented as a way to preserve older monitors, which would often leave images “burned” into the screens if the images were left on for too long. With the advent of LCD screens, monitors are protected from images being burned in. Screen savers actually use more energy than needed and waste money while your machine stays on.

Your screen display can use more power than any other part of your computer, including a hard disk and CPU. You can save power by dimming or turning off your display when it is inactive for a certain amount of time. You can adjust your display brightness under Control Panel > Power Options. Some laptops also have a dedicated button to change the brightness level.

Sleep mode is a power-saving state that puts your work in memory and allows you to quickly resume your tasks when you want to use your computer again. It still draws a small amount of power and drains your battery if your computer is not plugged in. However, if your laptop battery gets critically low while the computer is in sleep mode, Windows will automatically put the laptop in hibernation.

Of all the power-saving modes in Windows, hibernation uses the least amount of power. It is designed primarily for laptops, and turns off your computer after saving the current state of your machine, allowing you to resume where you left off. You can use hibernation when you won’t use your laptop for an extended period and won’t have an opportunity to charge the battery during that time.


If you’re a client with us, we recommend leaving your office computer on before you leave for the day so that critical updates can install and other important tasks can be performed. Our anti-virus software is scheduled to perform scans of your PC during off-hours. However, it will not run if your computer is shut down or in sleep or hibernation mode; instead, it will run the scan during the day and may slow down your system when you are trying to work.

Furthermore, when your computer is left on, if your machine requires troubleshooting, we have the ability to work on it after hours so that it’s ready to go when you need it the next morning. Since these tasks cannot be performed when your computer is turned off or in sleep or hibernation mode, leaving your computer on, turning off the display and turning off your monitor offers the best of both worlds. It allows critical tasks to be performed on your computer while you’re absent, while reducing your power consumption and allowing you to work quickly the next morning.

Please contact our help desk at 519-883-7815 ext. 2 or if you have difficulty accessing your computer's power-saving features.