Have you seen people closing their laptop lids after finishing their tasks on the computer?
You may wonder why they don’t simply shut down their computers as we do with many other electronics.
After all, devices should be off when we aren’t using them.
Closing the lid puts the laptop into sleep mode, but can it affect your laptop’s normal operation?
Should you put your PC in sleep mode or shut it down when you’re done?
Is Sleep Mode Bad For PC?
Putting the computer into sleep mode doesn’t hurt your computer.
It’s a normal and legitimate use case that helps your computer in many ways without damaging its components and can be better than shutting it down.
The sleep mode helps your system stop its operations and shut off all components except for RAM.
As a result, when you wake the PC, it can quickly boot up.
In addition, you don’t need to close the apps and windows, unlike shutting down, and open them when the system boots up.
This will reduce the wear on your system components due to regular shutdowns.
The Pros And Cons Of Sleep Mode
1. Power Considerations
One of the most important reasons people suggest turning off your PC is to save power.
When you shut down your PC, the power usage becomes zero, and you can save power, especially if you don’t plan to use the PC for a long time.
All the components stop receiving power except for the RAM, which requires power to keep the processes running.
However, putting the PC in sleep mode draws some power, although it’s still a power-saving mode.
As a result, if your laptop is unplugged, its battery will eventually drain, shutting down the PC.
However, there’s no need to worry about losing your data because you can get all your sessions back once you plug the laptop in after the battery drain.
You may be concerned about power usage and electricity bills, but the power consumption in sleep mode is minimal.
Another power-related consideration is the power surges that can happen while the PC is in sleep mode.
Laptops aren’t generally vulnerable to sudden power surges and cutoffs because they run on batteries.
However, if you put your desktop PC in sleep mode and there’s a power outage or a sudden power surge, it can damage the hardware.
You may even experience data corruption or loss.
However, it may not be a great concern if your house has a reliable power system or if you use a surge protector (which is a must for desktop PCs).
2. Wear And Tear
Generally speaking, the sleep mode is easier on PC hardware.
When you power off a computer, it has to drain power from all components, including the RAM.
When you turn it back on, all the components must start from the zero-power state by drawing electricity to their capacitors, subjecting them to wear.
Although modern computer hardware withstands incredibly huge power cycles, constant shutdowns will reduce its lifespan.
3. Updates And Reboots
Keeping your computer in sleep mode doesn’t harm the computer.
However, running the PC in sleep mode 24/7 may have software and hardware-related consequences.
When you get OS and software updates, you need to restart your PC for them to take effect.
Not installing these updates will make your PC vulnerable to security threats.
This does have a simple solution, though.
Simply restart your PC after installing the updates, and you’re fine.
Another issue is that shutting down your computer will clear the RAM and give it a chance to refresh its processes.
When you run the system in sleep mode, many processes are running in the background.
The RAM, processor cores, HDD, and other components don’t get a chance to refresh, and you may end up with piled-up processes in the RAM.
As a result, the RAM doesn’t get a break from the running processes, slowing down the PC in the long run.
Shutting down the PC will give a fresh start to the PC components and allow them to go through the POST tests upon startup.
These tests are critical in ensuring all the components are functioning without issues.
Still, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the benefits of sleep mode.
Most modern PCs can work properly even if you don’t reboot them daily.
You’ll be fine as long as you perform occasional, weekly reboots of complete shutdowns.
4. Faster Bootup
That’s one of the most important reasons people put their PCs in sleep mode.
Since the PC doesn’t fully shut down and all the processes are in the RAM, you can boot up your computer much faster.
That’s particularly the case when you have a low-spec PC or need to use your computer constantly.
In such cases, putting the PC in sleep mode is beneficial.
It’s the perfect choice when you have short breaks and want to return to work quickly.
This way, you don’t need to reload and reopen all the running programs.
As soon as you wake up the PC, you can get back to work from where you left off.
In addition, since the mouse and keyboard get some power in the sleep mode, you can wake up the PC by moving the mouse or pressing a key.
It helps with your workflow because you don’t need to figure out what you were doing before turning off the PC.
What Happens When You Put It Into Sleep?
When you put your PC into sleep mode, it tries to consume the least amount of power but will not completely shut down the PC.
To do so, it takes a virtual image of the PC’s current state, including all the running programs and processes, saves it on the RAM, and shuts off all the other components.
The only component that’s awake and receiving power is the RAM.
Unlike a full shutdown, you don’t need to close your current programs and windows, allowing you to resume your work instantly.
All you need to do is close the laptop’s lid or click the option in the start menu of your desktop PC.
Hibernation Vs. Sleep
Hibernation and sleep are both power-saving modes great for users who want to resume their work as soon as waking their computers.
The only difference is that hibernation shuts down all the components, including the RAM.
Hibernation saves the PC’s current state, including all the running processes, on the HDD or SSD instead of the RAM.
Since these components don’t require electricity to keep going, the computer can enter hibernation with the power entirely cut off.
As a result, you can save more energy, especially on a laptop.
In other words, your PC’s energy consumption will equal a complete shutdown, but you don’t need to boot up from zero because you have all your current work saved on the HDD.
That’s a significant advantage, especially when you don’t plan to use your PC for a long time.
Some laptops automatically go into hibernate mode after they’ve been in sleep mode long enough while unplugged.
This way, the device can stay alert while consuming zero power, extending battery life.
The wake-up time is a little longer than the sleep mode, but there’s no considerable difference.
However, many experts believe that hibernation can hurt your HDD or SSD because it affects the components’ read/write cycle.
The more you write to the hard drive, the shorter its life cycle.
In addition, since the keyboard and mouse don’t have power in hibernate mode, you need to wake the PC using the power button.
It can increase the wear on your power button if you use the hibernate mode frequently.
Which Power Mode Is The Best?
Now it’s clear that putting your computer into sleep mode won’t harm it.
It’s a useful power mode that can save you the trouble of closing all the programs and shutting down your PC.
It’s so convenient and harmless that average users and experts spend weeks and months without shutting down their systems.
However, computers have two other power modes: shutdown and hibernate.
Although all of them are legitimate use cases for every PC, they serve different purposes and match different situations.
Put your computer in sleep mode when:
- You want to access your computer remotely.
- You run a server.
- You want fast startups
- Your laptop is plugged in and has a reliable power source.
- You take breaks from work.
- Have an old PC with components near the end of their life cycles.
You can benefit from all the perks of sleep mode with hibernation, but it’s the preferred option in these situations:
- You don’t have access to a power source but can’t turn off the PC.
- You don’t mind the slow bootup time compared to the sleep mode.
- You’re concerned about your desktop PC’s power consumption.
Although hibernate and sleep modes are convenient harmless power modes, you may need to shut down your PC in the following situations:
- You don’t want to use your PC for a long time.
- After you finish work at night (optional).
- You feel your computer has slowed down because of the clogged-down RAM, and you think it can benefit from a reboot.
- You have no critical work that requires instant bootup.
- You have an SSD giving you fast bootup.
Note. If you shut down your computer only because you’re concerned about the energy bill, you may want to think twice.
Compared to the sleep mode, the power saving rates are minimal and may not be worth the stress on the hardware upon bootup.
Leaving A PC On
Sometimes, shutting down a PC isn’t a superior power mode.
If you plan on using your computer for a couple of hours, and even overnight, you don’t need to turn it off.
What about leaving your PC on all the time?
Is it okay not to put your PC in sleep or hibernate mode and keep it running all the time?
Although this topic isn’t as controversial as using sleep mode, people have different reasons to go for or avoid this option.
Generally, keeping your PC on for a long time isn’t recommended.
The main reason is that your PC components will be under massive stress, not having enough time to cool down and rest.
Heat can lead to component wear and tear and other issues like reduced performance.
The fans must work harder to keep the PC cool, producing excessive noise.
This noise can be even higher when the PC starts a new process, like updating.
It can be disturbing when it happens in the middle of the night while you’re sleeping.
In a nutshell, this always-on state will have few benefits and will wear down your PC quickly.
The only case when you need to keep your PC on is when you want to install a huge OS update or software like a game.
In such cases, you’re better off leaving the computer on overnight so that it can perform the operations when you don’t need it.
In other cases, you can use better options like sleep and hibernate to avoid shutting the PC off while leaving it in a power-saving state.
How To Customize The Sleep Mode
Now that you know the sleep mode is harmless, you may want to reap its benefits by enabling it.
Fortunately, today’s computers go into sleep mode after a certain amount of time, so you may not need to enable it.
This time can vary depending on the default settings determined by the manufacturer.
You can customize these settings according to your preferences and daily usage.
To access these settings, right-click the Start button and go to Settings.
Select System and click Power & Sleep from the list on the left side of the window.
In the new window, you can determine when the screen turns off, or the PC goes into sleep mode after the PC has been idle.
If you have a laptop, you can adjust the setting for plugged and unplugged states.
Then click Additional power settings to further customize the sleep options.
Click Change when the computer sleeps to set additional settings.
For example, if you have a laptop, you can determine what action initiates with closing the lid.
Expand the menu in front of When I close the lid and select your desired action.
The power modes are also available in the start menu.
However, some options, especially hibernating, may not be available.
You can activate them in the power options menu.
Click Change settings that are currently unavailable, and check the box next to Hibernate.
Putting Your Mac Into The Sleep Mode
The sleep mode in Windows and Mac computers is the same.
It has the same pros and cons and can be used in the same situations.
In addition, Mac computers have a feature that enables them to run critical operations even in sleep mode.
This mode, called Power Nap, wakes the system to update your mail, reminders, notes, location, and many others.
In addition, if the Macbook is plugged in, it can perform software updates, download items from the App store, back up Time Machines, and much more.
If you have an Intel chip, you need to enable it, but M1 chips have it enabled by default.
As a result, the sleep mode is even better on a Mac because it can perform many tasks while asleep.