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Q: Computer Care & Maintenance ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Computer Care & Maintenance
Category: Computers
Asked by: steph53-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 06 Jan 2003 17:52 PST
Expires: 05 Feb 2003 17:52 PST
Question ID: 138542
I am trying to find the safest mode in which to leave my computer
after I go to bed or to work. I have heard that some people just leave
theirs on all the time but I am not very comfortable with that as I
feel this may pose a safety risk.
There are four options on my shutdown dialog box:
Log off, Shut down, Restart and Stand by.
I have always logged off, exited windows and turned power off.
Subject: Re: Computer Care & Maintenance
Answered By: feilong-ga on 06 Jan 2003 18:53 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Steph53,

There are several ways to leave your computer. It depends on your
needs and how you want to work. The safest way of course is to totally
turn off your computer so that you don't consume energy and let your
computer rest. It can also slow down virus activity in case you are
infected with a time activated virus. Time activated virus usually
work in the background when your computer is idle for a certain period
of time. Don't worry, infections such as this is rare.

As I said, leaving your computer depends on your needs and how you
want to work. My computer, for example, work as long as I do. It's
"awake" when I'm awake and "sleeps" when I sleep. Because I'm an
Internet worker, I need to leave my computer turned on and connected
to the Internet most of the time - this is my need.  When I go out,
eat, or take a nap, I still leave my computer on (not "stand by" mode)
but I turn off my monitor to minimize consumption of electricity. I
have a firewall and antivirus programs that scans in the background.
Why do I leave my computer on? It's because I want to sit and work
immediately after I return from whatever personal matter that I
attended to or after taking a nap. I'm after the convenience of
working immediately without waiting for the computer to start up -
this is how I work. If you want to follow my way, make sure your
computer is well ventilated to avoid heat build-up from inside. Too
much heat can cause your computer and programs to behave weirdly.

It is also a good idea to have a UPS (uninterruptible power supply).
This will help protect your computer from power fluctuations,
particularly electrical spikes. This occurences can damage your
computer's internal components, especially your hard drive. Regarding
your concern about safety risk, the worst damage that an electrical
appliance can cause is fire. In the past, many fires have been caused
by unattended electrical appliances. Nowadays, with advancements in
technology, this has become a remote possibility but of course there's
no harm in playing safe and turning off your computer when you go to
sleep is a very good practice. Anyway, you can't read your messages or
do other things in your computer when you're asleep.

With regards to the four options, shutting down when you don't need
the computer is the best choice. The "log off" option is for computers
with different users. It is irrelevant in taking care of the computer.
The "stand by" mode is to minimize your computer unit's activity. It
will turn off the monitor, power down your hard drive, and suspend the
activity of programs running in the background. This is an effective
option, especially when you want to conserve electricity. I, however,
don't use this option because I find that some of my programs crash
after resuming from stand by mode. But if this option works flawlessly
for you, then go for it.

Below is an informative link that will help and guide you on
maintaining your computer. Simply press the "Shift" key before
clicking on a link so it will open a new window or right-click on the
link and choose "Open in New Window" for your convenience.

Ball State University - Maintaining Your PC

You can find more links through the links below.

Search Strategy:

"maintaining your computer"

"computer maintenance"

I hope this helps you. Should you have any comments/questions, please
feel free to post your clarification before rating this and I'll
attend to you as soon as possible. Thanks for asking.


Request for Answer Clarification by steph53-ga on 06 Jan 2003 20:03 PST
Thanks for your answer...........
However, the search sites did not answer my original question. As I
have been a computer "junkie" for over five years I cannot really
relate to some of the
" newbie" advice in some of these sites...although I will  admit I am
a complete computer "duh"...
I guess I should have been more clear in my post...
What I wanted to know is...does  shutting my computer all the way off
so often(including all the power) harm it or cause it work harder each
time I start it up again?
 I know you said it was safe as far as energy and letting the computer
"rest". But I need to know what/if any extra work was taking a toll on
my computer by turning it all off so many times.
At my office... we were told to go to ->shutdown->Restart-> then just
turn off the monitor and the computer.
I should further clarify that I do have my manual around somewhere but
I'm just not into reading a thousand pages to find a simple
solution.......*patience* is not one of my better virtues...........

Clarification of Answer by feilong-ga on 06 Jan 2003 21:42 PST
Thanks for your clarification Steph53. Let's take a closer look at
your query.

"But I need to know what/if any extra work was taking a toll on my
computer by turning it all off so many times."

Your computer is not harmed nor does it work hard whenever it starts
up. First of all, please remember that our computers where engineered
to be turned on, used and turned off in the course of its regular use.
The only way it can be harmed by turning off is to turn it off without
shutting it down properly. This could result in loss of data and also
puts stress to your system because it doesn't allow the sensitive
components to power down. This is why computers should not be turned
off without shutting down properly. This is analogous to stepping hard
on the brakes of a car and making a sudden stop. It puts stress to the
car which, over a long period of time, can damage other parts.

Pushing the "reset" button frequently is the most harmful of all.
Although the reset button is there for our convenience, it is meant
only to be used when necessary - not frequently. The reset button is a
quick on-and-off button. Once you press the it, the system turns off
suddenly and when you release it, the system is suddenly switched on
-- all without powering down and warming up.

"At my office... we were told to go to ->shutdown->Restart-> then just
turn off the monitor and the computer."

I find this puzzling, since there is no need to shutdown and restart
your computer if you're just going to leave it on anyway. You can
simply turn the monitor off and that's it. Like I said, I sometimes
leave my computer on and just turn off the monitor. There's no harming
it this way. Aside from wanting to conserve on electricity, I turn the
monitor off so as not to "burn" the screen. Turning the computer off
allows the components to "rest" and cool down.

I have been using my computer for five years now. Like I said, I turn
it off when I go to sleep and turn it on as soon as I wake up. My
friends do this thing too and no one has complained that their
computer is damaged in whatever way because of this.

So given the above information, turning the computer off is not
harmful when it's done properly. Frequently turning it off without
shutting down properly and pressing the reset button are harmful to
your system.
steph53-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks feilong...for your thorough answer!
Thanks also to heavylee and dameeti for the comments!

Subject: Re: Computer Care & Maintenance
From: heavylee-ga on 07 Jan 2003 09:05 PST
Just to add a comment to feilong's comprehensive answer-

It has been explained to me several times that turning on you computer
is analogous to starting your car's engine.  It's a necessary evil. 
I've been told that when a computer is turned on, the sudden rush of
electricity through the very delicate components can wear them down
over time, and I stress OVER TIME.  As mentioned earlier, I compare
this to starting your engine.  If you are running into the convenience
store for a moment, its better for the engine to be left running, than
to shut if off and restart it only a minute later (neighborhood safety
and circumstances allowing).  Similarly, if you shut off your computer
only to turn it back on only a short time later, its is better to
leave it on and just let the screen saver engage.
Subject: Re: Computer Care & Maintenance
From: dameeti-ga on 07 Jan 2003 10:14 PST
A few additional comments would be beneficial here.

Turning your computer off (power off, etc., not just using the
shutdown command) has the advantage of using less electricity (which
would be the suggested action when the system won't be used for a long
duration -- vacation, weekend, etc.).  It also makes it physically
impossible for someone to use the system in your absence if your
system is controlled by any type of password control access (network
access, etc.).  Leaving it on by walking away means that others could
use it -- an security issue if used where others have physical access
to the machine.

Leaving it on has the advantage of immediate access when you do
return.  From a coffee break, lunch, or just a walk down the hall. 
(Personally, I leave my system turned on 24/7 so I can, any time of
day or night, walk up to me, get some info, and return to my previous
activity.  And the pretty screen savers are fun to watch -- but no one
else has physical access to my system so secuirty isn't an issue.

The question posed the use of selecting Restart when done for the day
(and the responder to this suggestion seemed confused why someone
would select this option).  Actually, this would be the preferred
action if you wanted immediate access to your system but were done for
the day.  The advantages are many:

1.  It directs all applications to shutdown and therefore save all
open data files.
2.  It therefore also directs the application to prompt the user to
save new files not yet saved but would be lost in the event of power
3.  It updates any open files the application needs for regular use
that might only be updated when the program closes... and would be
lost by (again) power loss.
4.  It releases all of the resources that might have been allocated by
various applications but never properly released during their normal
(or abnormal) termination.
5.  It allows the system to, if you will, get a fresh start with the
system starting in a "clean slate", all system resources in their
initial "good" state.

How many times have we all been suggested to restart our system when
we encounter a system "problem"?  It's the only way to know that some
other program has not (incorrectly and/or inadvertently) altered the
contents of memory and/or some other resource.  By restarting the
system before we leave, it clears out all running programs and puts
the system in a good running state, all while we're gone.  We could do
the same thing when we returned, but do you want to wait while it does
that the next day when you return?  Why not let it do it while we're
walking out the door.

The other area that needs clarification is the use of the Reset
button.  This button is *not* for our convenience.  It should never be
looked at as a convenience.  It is to be used only as a necessity when
all other methods of unlocked your system have failed.  Pressing that
button just because it appears faster than shuting down and restarting
could be the loss of important data, even data that was not being used
by your current application shown on the screen.

Among the many possible problems: the disk drive's control information
could be corrupted because the program that is running happens to be
updating that portion of the disk drive JUST as you press the Rest
button... and corrupts commonly used areas of the drive so that the
pointers to "good data" are not lost because they were never allowed
to completely update vital information correctly.  Use other means if
at all possible.  But never touch the Reset button unless necessary. 
(It's hard to get to so we don't accidently press it.)

Think of it as a fire alarm for the system.  Stop what you're doing
and leave the building.  Imagine what would happen if people were
updating that file cabinet in the corner of the office, and, all of a
sudden, anything and everything in progress is lost.  This means that
any file folders that have been partially updated (and the rest of the
update was left on some worker's desk) and now when those workers
reenter the building, the files has some infor updated, some not. 
Imagine trying to figure out which folders are updated, which parts of
the folders are updated, and which parts were about to be erased but
(because we didn't finish because of the fire alarm), are still in the
files... at best, you ahev to review the data.  Imagine this was a
database of some sort.  You have no clue what's not entered, what
should've been deleted, and which records are partially out of sync.

This is another reason all by itself to do a Restart when you leave
for the day.  It forces all running programs to finish their updates
on all open files, it closes even temporary files (and/or purges
them), and it puts the computer into a good known state.

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