Many people shut off their computer at night.  This is done for various reasons the most common being 1) to save money and 2) the keep others from the Internet from getting into the computer.

While shutting off your computer will save some money, you really need to leave it on.  Your computer needs to be on to allow off-hours scheduled activities to run (see below).  Power consumption is typically low when your computer is idle.  Shutting off your monitor alone or using a screen saver will save as much as 70 watts (monitor dependent).  By the way, an LED monitor consumes the least amount of power.

As far as being hacked from the Internet, the chances are EXTREMELY low that anyone would even try to hack you just sitting idle.  Most virus and malware is transmitted to your computer during an active user sessions.   Virtually ALL viruses and malware found on computers were put there during a browsing or downloading activity – this is not a valid reason to turn OFF your computer.

Here are a few GOOD reasons to LEAVE YOUR COMPUTER ON AT NIGHT.

  1. Windows updates are scheduled to run daily at night by default. Windows updates are designed to provide security updates and product updates.  Microsoft and the computing industry constantly monitor attacks and through this never ending activity, discover vulnerabilities in the Windows code.  Microsoft regularly releases security patches and updates for not only Windows, but Office and Windows Defender.  The update process is done off-hours and if a restart of your computer is required, you can configure the system to restart outside of normal business hours.   This is a Windows 10 feature. By not keeping Windows up to date, your risk goes up immensely.   Recently, much of the world experienced the WannaCry ransomware attack.  Microsoft published a statement that indicated that an out-of-date Windows computer was at a very high risk.  Microsoft had released a patch to resolve vulnerability in March 2017.
  1. Anti-Virus scans assure that your computer is safe. Most anti-virus programs regularly only scan those system files that are most often targeted by malware and anti-virus programs.  This is done in real time, all the time and typically does not affect the user experience.  It is highly recommended, however, that you perform a regular FULL Scan of your entire computer at least weekly.  Scheduling these scans after hours is the most common approach so as to have no effect on the user.  Scans do use a large portion of your computers resources and will slow you down if are trying to use your computer.
  2. Disc Defragmentation is scheduled to run at night within Windows. This is a disc intensive activity and will slow you down if run while you are trying to use your computer.  Defragmentation improves the speed at which files are found and written back to disc.  In Windows 10, this process only runs off hours.  It is not configurable so if the computer is not on, the disc does NOT get defragmented.
  3. Electronic Stress occurs when you power up your computer. When power is applied to ANY electrical device, the components involved undergo heavy electrical stress.   Every computer has a power supply that provides low voltage but HIGH current to the computer components such as the motherboard, hard drive, fans and indicators.  Although the power supply is designed for the high stress encountered when starting, the components are degraded slightly each power up.  The power supply is the most common failure point of a computer.  Each time you power up a computer, you shorten its life.

As an aside, there are times when you do need to restart your computer.  I restart mine once every few weeks.  To do so, you should soft-boot the computer.  This is done by selecting “restart” from the Windows Start menu.  With a soft-boot, the AC power is never removed and the computer restarts the operating system reloading its boot settings and virtually nothing in RAM – this is the biggest benefit of restarting a computer.

Turning your computer off each night can have a large negative impact on you and your sanity.  Avoiding unscrupulous attackers is probably enough reason to keep your computer on.

Leave a Comment