Tech Tuesday #2: Power control!

It’s time for Tech Tuesday, where we answer reader questions!TechTuesdays from Charland Technology

Here are some common questions I get about computers and power:

Q: Should I leave my computer on all the time or turn it off when I’m not using it?

Greg: I generally recommend setting your computer to sleep or hibernate when you’re not using it, unless you access it remotely (or are sharing files or printers attached to your computer). This saves a little power (and electricity cost) but also lets your system come back on quickly when you’re ready to go.

If you’re on a network we can usually set up Wake-On-LAN to turn your computer on remotely so you can use LogMeIn or Remote Web Workplace to get in when needed.

Windows Vista and 7 laptops generally behave well with the default power settings. Close the lid and your computer should be in “smart sleep” within a few seconds…and resume a few seconds after opening the lid. See the next question…

Q: What’s the difference between hibernate and suspend:

Greg: Suspend is a low-power mode that stops the processor but keeps the memory powered. So it uses a little power but can resume in a few seconds. Hibernation means saving the current state of the system to disk then shutting down. A computer in hibernation draws no power, it is shut down. Windows Vista and 7 default to “smart sleep” which starts as a suspend then goes to hibernation after the computer realizes you’re not coming back.

On Mac computers the normal Shut Down is actually a hibernation.

Q: My business got hit by lightning. I had a surge protector but my computer still got fried. What gives?

Greg: Lightning is static electricity that travels for miles. Do you really think the tiny gap in a surge protector circuit breaker is gonna stop it?

Seriously, though, this is one of those times when it can pay to save your receipts. Most battery backups and surge protectors have a connected equipment guarantee, so they’ll pay you if you can show that your properly-connected protector failed and your equipment got zapped.

Q: Should I always charge my laptop battery?

Modern laptops/notebooks/netbooks/ultrabooks/portables have lithium-ion batteries that do not have the memory effect of older ones. Your computer will stop charging the battery before any damage is done….and Li-I batteries can be damaged by running them too low. So make sure you’re set to auto-hibernate at 4-6% power remaining, and remember that battery life will naturally shorten as the device ages.

And no post of mine about POWAH would be complete without….

Got questions? Send them to CharlandTech via Facebook, post as a comment on this article, Tweet ’em to @gregc00 or @CharlandTech, or find another creative way to get them to us.

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