Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 123 / NOVEMBER 1990 / PAGE 18

On or Off?

Is it really preferable to leave my computer on all of the time? I have been using my home system daily for 2 to 5 hours; then I turn it off until the next time I use it. But I've read that the strain of starting up is actually worse than allowing continued operation. Since the life of my hard disk is finite, with a printed lifespan given as MTBF, I'm confused as to what I should do.

Your magazine hits the spot with me. I've been using a computer for only six months and still stumble over the basic concepts of day-to-day computing. Your articles are written just for me. Thanks!


Actually, your question can be answered a variety of ways, depending on whom you ask. Even though flipping the power switch on and off can shorten the life of a system, most computer users fear power surges that can lead to lost data. Therefore, they turn off their computers at the end of the day.

We know a few brave souls who never turn off their systems and haven't suffered any disastrous consequences. But we don't take chances where our hard drive data is concernedeven though it's backed up.

No matter which path you choose, occasionally a system locks up and must be restarted. To avoid flipping the power switch, use the reset button if you have one. If you don't have a reset button, you can press Ctrl–Alt–Del to reboot. If that doesn't work, turn off the power switch and wait until the hard drive stops turning completely before restarting the system. If you turn on the system while the drive is spinning, it may damage the heads on your hard drive.