Tip of the Day: Control Your Laptop’s Power Button

Should I Turn My Computer Off at Night?

A friend of mine told me it is better to not turn off my desktop computer every night, instead to turn it off every few nights and just put it on standby every night. I work from home and I use my computer every day. Is it really better to not turn it off every night? I have a four-year-old dell Desktop with one of those old clunky monitors. Is putting it on standby saving as much power as turning it off? Also, does turning the computer on and off affect it negatively?

The issue isn’t as simple as you might think; there’s no single answer to this perennial question.

My answer, naturally, is “It depends.”

There are two issues at play here: the power used by a computer left running 24 hours a day, and the stress on hardware components being repeatedly turned off and on.

Read moreShould I Turn My Computer Off at Night?

Footnotes & references

1: Surprisingly, not quite true on some machines. Even when you turn the power completely off, there are often components that remain powered to some degree. Only pulling the power plug prevents this tiny trickle of electricity from being used if it is on your specific machine.

If Shutting Down Windows Cleanly Is So Important, What Happens When the Power Just Goes Out?

I am aware that not going through the proper Windows shutdown can possibly have negative effects on a computer. But my question is if a computer loses power (due to a household power outage, not anything wrong with the power supply), are these negative effects strictly software related (meaning a format and reinstall would fix them), or might it cause hardware problems as well?

Shutting down Windows properly before turning off the power to your computer is important.

Not doing so can result in data loss and corruption as files are left only partially written to disk. But just turning off the switch is unlikely to actually harm your hardware.

Surprisingly, a household or other area-wide power outage turns out to be a completely different, riskier issue.

Read moreIf Shutting Down Windows Cleanly Is So Important, What Happens When the Power Just Goes Out?

Why does my phone charge more quickly on some chargers?

I have several USB chargers for my mobile phone. I’ve noticed that one will charge my phone quickly – like in an hour if it’s really dead – while another will take several hours. And connecting a USB cable between my phone and laptop will also charge it, but that seems slowest of all! What gives?

Two things are at play here: how much power your charger can supply, and how much power your phone is using while it’s being charged.

I’ll warn you: for the first, at least, you’re going to need a magnifying glass, or at least extremely good eyesight.

Read moreWhy does my phone charge more quickly on some chargers?

Footnotes & references

2: Before the pedants pull my analogy to shreds, realize that it’s an over-simplification on purpose, simply to get the general concepts across. And for the record, my degree is actually in Electrical Engineering, so I do have some background in the concept. 🙂
3: I’ve seen it written as high as 900mA, but 500mA seems to be a very common implementation.
4: Apparently up to a maximum of five amps.
5: The standard is indeed five volts, but some variance is allowed, so 5.1 is OK.

How Do I Shut Down Windows 8?

I was having a discussion with an acquaintance the other day and he mentioned that he knew someone who had a two-hour phone call with some form of tech support, trying to figure out how to shut down Windows 8.

Now, I get that it’s not obvious. I even get that it’s frustrating until you discover the magic.

But … two hours?

Because it’s not obvious, particularly to Windows 8 newcomers, let me quickly show you how.

Read moreHow Do I Shut Down Windows 8?

Footnotes & references

6: Actually, you may see it. I’m seeing it on some installations and not on others. Either way, moving your mouse down there should cause the charms to appear.

7: This article focuses specifically on desktop/mouse-based interactions with Windows 8. To display the Charms bar on a touch screen, just swipe in from the right side of the screen. Subsequent instructions are simply to tap instead of click.