1990’s PC Practices That You Need to Stop!

I’ve run across several people now who are still treating their PC or laptop as if it were 1995. They shut it down every time they are finished with it. Don’t do it! There are several reasons not to do this.

  1. It’s more harmful to your electronics, than just letting it run, or sleep, or hibernate. I’ll explain these later.
  2. Your PC often installs upgrades and updates in the background. Shutting the PC down in the midst of this process wreaks havoc on your operating system, trying to figure out where it was last time it was running. If you shut it down again while it’s trying to get its bearings, things can get worse.
  3. It takes longer to shut down, and to boot up afterwards…even if it wasn’t in the middle of an update or upgrade.

Let me explain the sleep and hibernate states – I assume that running is obvious! The sleep and hibernate states make some sense compared to your non-computer concept of the two.

  • Sleep is a state where your computer isn’t running, but it is ready to wake up and resume in just a few seconds (usually 2 or 3 at most). The processor is at a low-power state, with RAM memory fully loaded, which is why it can resume very quickly.
  • Hibernate is a state where it is assumed that the computer will not be running for a longer period of time. The contents of RAM is written to the HDD so that it can be quickly reloaded when the computer resumes. This will take longer: it depends on how much RAM needs to be reloaded, but this typically shouldn’t be more than 8 or 10 seconds.

You can see how this relates to the non-computer definitions: sleep is something I wake up from pretty quickly, but if you’ve ever seen a bear, or a tortoise, or something else come out of hibernation, it’s obvious that it takes a bit to shake it off! However, if the computer is turned off, then it is essentially a newborn babe – the entire booting process is run from a “cold start”: loading BIOS, and then the operating system, which then figures out in what order to start up all of the myriad of programs, essentially from scratch. You can see why this takes much longer. If the computer was in the middle of an update and was “rudely” shut down, this will take even longer while the operating system tries to figure out where it left off, and where it can resume…or worse, start the entire process from the beginning.

A computer that is plugged in all the time, desktop or laptop, can be configured to sleep or hibernate under the “Power” options. A laptop with a battery should be configured to sleep: this uses a tiny trickle of battery, but it will switch to hibernate if the battery gets low enough. And a desktop can quickly wake up with a shake of the mouse or a tap on the keyboard.

Bottom line, there’s rarely ever a need to shut a computer completely down – this is probably why most people complain that it takes so long to boot…they are waiting on a complete cold start every time.

There you go…happy sleeping!


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