Is your computer running? Then Go Catch It! :-)
This is one of those topics that always seems to make digital sparks fly.
I guess I'll give you the thoughts from both camps and let you decide.
Leave it on:
The electronic components within the computer tend to last longer if they aren't constantly cooling off and warming back up. Additionally, you don't get any kind of initial "spike" in power when your machine is first turned on (not a big problem if you have an ATX type motherboard—most newer computers do). Finally, it's much more convenient to just plop down in front of your computer and start working than to sit through a lengthy boot-up.
Turn it off:
Your hard drive may last longer, especially if your computer doesn't put the drive on "standby" after a certain amount of idle time. The constant spinning of your hard drive motor can wear out the internal bearings. I personally don't think this a big deal. Newer hard drives will probably be in good service longer than the computer they live in.
Another "turn it off" argument is that you'll save on your electric bill. Depending on your machine, it uses the same power as one or more 100 watt light bulbs.
Finally, you're going to pull more dust into your computer if it's running all the time. More dust = more heat. More heat = short lived computers, unless you clean it out regularly.
Those are the main reasons both ways. My opinion? I let it run during the day when I'm using it and shut it off at night.
I don't think it's good for the computer to have someone poking at the power switch constantly. If you're going to use it in the morning and then again in the afternoon, leave it run till you're finished for the day.
I used to leave mine run 24/7, but a few things have changed my mind.
For one, any chip faster than 133Mhz needs a cooling fan to keep it from burning itself into a silicon cinder. These fans are not totally reliable.
If I'm using the computer and am getting signs that I have a CPU that's overheating (your computer will act *really* strange, some will play a little tune through the internal speaker), I can shut things down and get it fixed. If it happens in the middle of the night, I'll have a roasted CPU in the morning.
Another reason is that I've seen power supplies go bad and try to catch themselves (and anything nearby) on fire. Again, not something I want to have happen at 2:00 AM when I'm asleep dreaming about program code.
Finally, anyone who uses Windows knows that it should be re-booted on a daily basis. So, by shutting it off at night and turning it back on it the morning, I automatically get my re-boot (that's not to say I don't have to do the occasional re-boot during the day though with win 9.x type machines).
So, my advice is to run it when you need it, and when you're done for the day, shut it down.
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