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In this tech tip, you'll learn when to put your computer or laptop to sleep, and when it's better to shut down. We'll also cover hibernation on PCs.
Modern computers are equipped with several features that conserve power. Even desktop computers are programmed to blank the monitor, and spin down the hard drive and the cpu during periods of inactivity. But, how do you know what state to leave it in when you know you won't be using the computer for a while?
Sleep is a handy way to safely move a laptop computer from point A to point B, as it turns off the hard drive; this prevents potential damage to files. By all means, put your laptop to sleep as you travel from building to building on campus. There are, however, some times when it is better to simply shut off the computer, rather than putting it to sleep or standby.
Hibernation is another state that is available on Windows PCs. When a PC is put into hibernation mode, it actually shuts down and does not use any power. Before doing so, it saves all the current settings to a special file on the hard drive. That way, when you power the computer back up by pressing the power button, you will be returned more quickly to the desktop exactly as you left it.
For a more detailed explanation of power states on Windows PC's, see the "Information Week" Langa Letter at http://informationweek.com/story/IWK20020927S0028
Back in the dark ages of computing, many tech support specialists advised that the computer never (or rarely) be shut down. They explained that this would save wear and tear on the hard drive and other computer components. That's less of a concern today. Shutting down the computer saves energy and allows the computer to be refreshed. Of course, you should avoid turning your computer off and on frequently, but it's fine to shut down your computer daily. If you do leave it on all the time, it's a good idea to turn it off at least once a week to let the computer reset itself.