In the latest in our Ask CyberGuru series of articles, Merv asks, “should I turn off or put my computer to sleep?”.

This is a good question and always up for debate. The answer really depends on how much you are using your computer and whether you are appropriately prepared.

If you are regularly using your computer over a day or a couple of days during a week, you may choose to select “sleep” rather than to “shut down” your computer. Sleep is also known as a low-power state, also known as “standby” or “hibernate” in earlier versions of Windows, which similar to a television. It still is on, powered by electricity and can easily be brought back to life. In sleep mode, your computer files are temporarily saved to the hard disk and some power is still running to it so it will start back up quickly. However, it is important to note that if power list is lost and you work hasn’t been saved, you may lose it.

Generally tablets are on sleep when they are not in use, and computers can do so also. If is not necessary to turn your computer off, you can set it to sleep automatically after a set period of time. When the computer is not in use, it performance automatic maintenance tasks including disk optimisation (defragmentation), backups, as well as other routine scheduled items.

At the end of the day, it is worthwhile shutting down your computer. This clears the memory of running programs, along with any temporary files and other items that have been used. Often, updates are applied during a shutdown of a computer (and continue during the restart). Depending on your needs, some organisations suggest turning off your computer at least once a week. Some recommend only turning off your computer when absolutely necessary as this can degrade the power button, however we believe it should be performed on a routine basis. Whether you choose daily or weekly, it is up to you.

However, most importantly, during an electrical thunderstorm, we strongly suggest turning off and unplugging any equipment. It is possible a surge may cause your computer to receive an electric shock and surge other equipment in the process. Please refer to our recent blog article, Five tips to be cyclone and storm ready with your technology for more information.