Can I leave my computer turned on for a long time?

Technically, yes. You can. But again, it’s up to you. And I read somewhere that your computer will consume the same amount of power as a 40Watt bulb. But you have to keep in mind that leaving your computer on all the time will mean a fatter electricity bill. But a good way to handle this would be to put the computer to “Standby mode” if you are not going to be using for a period of 30 – 60 minutes. If you are going to be away for a longer period of time, then it makes more sense to turn off your computer.

Having said that, I would suggest you spend some time going through the “Power Management Options” in your computer.

You can access this option from Start Button -> Control Panel -> Power Options.

If you double click on Power options, you will get a screen that looks like this:

Windows XP - Power Options

If you click on the pull down menu under “Power Schemes”, you can select a power scheme suitable for your computer. You can also specify if you are using a laptop or desktop PC. If you want your computer to always stay powered on, you can select that option also here.

In the lower half of the dialog box you can make more specific choices for power saving. Staying on the same dialogue box, you can enable Hibernation from the “Hibernate” tab.

So what is the difference between the “Standby” and “Hibernate” options?

In the standby mode, (which is also known as “Sleep” mode), the computer shuts off power to all the non-essential and non-critical components. The contents of the RAM (Memory) are left there. Then the computer keeps itself running on minimum power.

However, in Hibernate mode, the contents of the RAM (Memory) are copied to the Harddisk drive and saved in a file called Hiberfil.sys. The size of the hiberfil.sys file will be just about the size of the physical memory in your computer.

Having done that, your computer goes into Hibernate mode – this mode is more efficient when it comes to saving power.

And unlike the case of Standby mode, no data is lost even if there is a power-failure.

Windows Vista has an option which will automatically move a laptop to Hibernate Mode when it goes low on battery. If you are one of those people who is more comfortable with the Hibernate option, remember to defrag your computer more often.