Should I Leave My Computer Turned On 24 Hours A Day?

The article below is one that I repeatedly post, at least annually, to get feedback from my readers. As technology and computers continue to change (become more efficient), should you leave your computer turned on 24 hours a day?


There has been a lot of debate over the years whether you should power down your computer daily or just leave it “on” all of the time. I’ve always been a firm believer of powering the computer “off” when finished using it at the end of the day. When I was managing a computer network, the standard I had in place required all users to power down their PC’s prior to going home. If I found a PC “on”, then I remotely powered it “off”. I still use this same practice at home. During the day, I turn the computer “on”, and all peripheral components (i.e. drives, router, etc…), via a power strip (surge protector); then, I power the computer “off” at the end of the day (prior to going to bed) or if I leave the house for an extended period of time. My theories and reasonings for this practice are as follows:

  1. A computer that is left “on” all the time, is a potential security risk and is an open invitation internally (by other people) and externally (by hackers and such). (Especially when your network is connected to the outside world AND due to the fact the majority of people, and businesses, do not keep their security software up to date.)
  2. Extends the life of the computer. (A common debate is that turning the PC “on” and “off” promotes a negative impact on the “service life” of the computer. I personally can attest that most computers, with today’s advanced technology, will reach the end of their “useful life” prior to their actual “service life”, even if you turn them “on” and “off” multiple times.);
  3. Could be a potential fire hazard. (I’ve seen computers and monitors go up in smoke. Multiple processors in today’s computer are extremely hot.);
  4. Can save electricity. (See U.S. Department of Energy – “When To Turn Off Personal Computers“);
  5. Refreshes the memory and the memory resident programs and services in the computer when you completely do a “cold restart” of the computer. (Many people let their PC’s go into a “sleep/standy mode” or “hibernate” mode. I still prefer what is called a “cold” restart.);
  6. Will keep the internal components of the computer cleaner. (When a computer is “on”, the fans are pushing and pulling air to keep components cool; however, this air flow is a dust magnet.); AND FINALLY,
  7. Your icons on the computer screen, over the life of the computer, will start to war with each other. (Watch the video below to see what actually can happen…)
Icon Story



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9 thoughts on “Should I Leave My Computer Turned On 24 Hours A Day?

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  1. I suggest you write another chapter for netbooks Rick.
    I agree with all your points FOR PC’s. But since I only use a netbook (which isn’t a power monster) most of the time, I only leave it on Sleep mode.

    The only times I shut it off is:
    When I detect something suspicious or wrong
    When I have to leave it at home or elsewhere (to avoid fire)

    Again, if netbooks are power guzzlers, I wouldn’t leave it on all time. And I also make sure the internet connection is off to avoid malware and hackers. Hope this helps.

    AWebWhiteboard is great Rick!


    1. Pochp,

      Really it is a matter of preference… For the reasons I listed, I shut down all of my PC’s (netbooks, tablets, desktop, etc…). I’ve also found (like a netbook) which may have only a gig or two of memory, I shut it down. Reason is, that it flushes the RAM and when you restart you are back clean. Again, just my thoughts and preferences. Windows 7 does a much better job of handling memory so this is not as big of an issues as in the past.



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