Run laptop continuously vs. sporadic shutdown

In my circles, opinions are divided. I guess it's not just about a laptop, but about the lifespan of a motherboard, cooling fan, CPU, hard drive, etc. (however, putting aside the question of battery life): is there any advantage to leaving the computer "on" all the time (including hibernating)? Or is it better to shut it down - e.g., power down every night - then reboot when needed?
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More about laptop continuously sporadic shutdown
  1. In terms of lifespan, shutting down is definitly better.
  2. Of the many things I've learned supporting small to enterprise level clients it's that you leave desktops on all the time. They were not designed to be shut off, on, off, on, off, on...

    Laptops however were and are designed to be powered on, off, on, off, on, off.... Different component designs.

    Now all that said, if one doesn't protect the equipment, laptop or desktop, it's life will be greatly shortened. No cheap surge protector, better with a good UPS/conditioner even if it's a low capactity unit. Clean the vents and fans often. Remove the dust, etc.

    Following these practices, I've seen desktops and laptop last over 10 years. I've had clients who have had some of the same desktop models die over and over and that problem went away after the user stopped powering off every night. Leave a laptop on all the time and they burn out their fans or collect too much dust on the heat sink or fan and they over heat. Or the HDD cooks.

    Yet those aren't even the most common laptop problem. Leaving the battery plugged in all the time drastically shortens it's life. I know, according to all the official technical paperwork, that's not true. In practice, things aren't always as written. Let your battery drain down to almost empty every month at least. Then fully charge it with the power off.
  3. Thank you - information appreciated.

    I also wonder, along similar purpose lines, about the relative benefits of "Hibernate" vs. "Sleep" (I use Vista Home Premium on a laptop) during times when I don't want a full shutdown.

    I already understand (maybe...) that Hibernate involves its own large data backup file. I do see a difference when returning to full activity - Hibernate goes through what looks like more of a reboot-like process onscreen.

    Yet the amount of time elapsed seems very similar for both.

    Something I can't get any handle on at all from either the laptop manual or the baffling Vista Help screens is which mode would (a) use less "trickle" power and/or (b) generate less heat.

    Any thoughts on this?
  4. Hibernate:
    The computer will copy the data in the RAM to the hard disk. Upon boot, the data is simply restored.

    Does not use any battery life while off.

    Slower to start and put to sleep, generally.
    Uses more power on startup. (compared to sleep or cold boot)

    The computer is essentially shut down, with only enough power to keep the data in the memory "alive" - RAM requires power to retain information.

    Very fast on shutdown and bootup.

    Requires power while in sleep mode.

    It should be noted that sleep is usually referred to as Standby.

    You should use standby if you're leaving your computer for a short time, or for a long time if it's plugged in. Otherwise, hibernate is the better option, as it uses no battery.
  5. OK, thanks to both respondents for fine instruction. Now I can make informed choices.
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