Ask Kurt: Can I leave my computer to sleep, or does it have to be shut down?

Given the amount of time we spend on our computers today, it’s understandable that we rarely feel the need to shut them down completely and instead choose to put them to sleep.

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I’m sure you’ve heard that frequent shutdowns of your computer can negatively affect its software and limit its lifespan. Or that leaving your computer on all the time also hurts battery and performance, not to mention your electric bill.

So, what should we believe, and what would be the right thing to do? Always shut down your computer when not in use, or constantly allow your computer to enter sleep mode?

Well, there is no simple right or wrong answer to this question.

Given the amount of time we spend on our computers today, it’s understandable that we rarely feel the need to shut them down completely and instead choose to put them to sleep.


What exactly is sleep mode?

When the computer is in sleep mode, it conserves power i.e. turns off the screen, which is why it goes to a black screen. However, for all intents and purposes, your computer is still running while in sleep mode, and many programs are still running.

How is shutting down your computer different from putting it to sleep?

When you shut down your computer, all of its functions are turned off. None of the programs or applications you were using previously will be launched or saved. So there is no software or programming running, and no updates can happen. As a result, when you need to use your computer again, you’ll need to restart it completely, which takes a few minutes more than just waking your computer from sleep mode.

Advantages of putting your computer to sleep

1. You can easily go back to using your computer

A simple click of the mouse, trackpad, touchpad, slide pad, or power button will wake your computer from sleep mode, instantly returning you to all the windows you’ve left open.

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2. Many programs are still running while in sleep mode

While your computer doesn’t seem to turn on when it’s in sleep mode, many programs can and often run, including:

  • Virus scan
  • System backups
  • Program updates
  • Disk Cleanup.

It is important to note that these programs do not run when your computer is turned off. Without the updates they provide, your device may become more vulnerable to malware. The heat produced by a sleeping machine also exposes all components to higher temperatures more often. Computers left all the time may have a shorter lifespan.

Advantages of shutting down your computer

1. It saves money

Leaving your computer plugged in, even when it’s fully charged and turned off, consumes electricity. However, it uses much less power than if your computer was in sleep mode. It can save you nearly $50 a year on your electric bill by turning it off.

2. It will not harm your device

Contrary to popular belief, turning off your computer regularly will not harm your hardware. In the early days of computer technology, internal parts were more vulnerable to damage. It is recommended to avoid closing them too often. Modern technology is more durable. In fact, turning off your computer every now and then improves its performance, as it allows your RAM and battery to get a bit more rest than when you put it to sleep. Also, one of the benefits of a regular shutdown is that your system may experience fewer temporary issues.


3. A restart helps manage any system issues

The restart that occurs when you restart your computer will also help manage any system issues, such as getting rid of any errors or faulty network connections. These issues can increase when left to sleep, which often slows down the overall performance of your computer.

4. Protects your device in the event of a power surge

If your computer goes to sleep during a power surge, it opens up the possibility:

  • damaged files
  • The hard drive is damaged
  • data loss.


Turning off your computer will greatly reduce the chances of the above happening. Also, the power surges that occur when a machine is powered by its power adapter are more harmful to a sleeping computer than to a fully shut down machine.

Is one more recommended than the other?

not nessacary. It all comes down to the time you will be away from your computer. If you just need to go out to run an errand or grab a cup of coffee and you know you’ll eventually need to get back to your computer, it’s best to let it go to sleep.

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However, at the end of the day, or if you know you’ll be away from your computer for an extended period of time, it’s probably smart to turn it off and give it a break. Which will also help protect him in the event of a power surge.

Do you shut down your computer or leave it to sleep when you’re not using it? We’d love to hear from you.


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