Keep the computer on or turn it off?

Ask Mr. Modem

Q. My grandson offered to “fine-tune” my Windows 7 computer to make it run better, though it wasn’t really having any problems. He installed several programs and now I’m having problems where none existed before. Could the programs he installed be causing this?

A. I would like to cite a world-renowned, authoritative treatise in responding to your question, that being Mr. Modem’s Computing Rule 47-A: “With very few exceptions, never let a spouse, friend, neighbor or computing-genius child fine-tune your computer. The outcome will rarely be satisfactory.”

Let’s examine the facts: Your computer was running fine. Your well-intentioned, semi-gifted grandchild was then granted permission for what? To make your computer run finer? The result of his diligent effort: Problems where none previously existed. I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but I’m thinking that there just might be a causal connection here.

I would suggest requesting your grandson do a bit more fine-tuning and uninstall whatever he installed. If that doesn’t resolve the problem, run System Restore which you can do on your Win 7 system by clicking Start > Search and type “System Restore,” (without the quotes), then select System Restore. Select a date to restore to from the calendar that appears. In this way you should be able to turn back the clock to a time prior to the occasion when your grandson worked his magic.

Q. I have an age-old question, Mr. M: Should I turn my computer off when I’m finished using it or leave it on 24/7?

A. If you use your desktop computer daily, I recommend leaving it on. I leave my computers on for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that most catastrophic failures occur during power up when a surge of electricity hits the cold, static computer components. Leaving a computer on maintains a stable, internal operating temperature which is desirable. I have 11 computers here (Mrs. Modem is destined for sainthood) and all of them run 24/7.

Space constraints do not permit an exhaustive discussion of this topic, but in general, though my computers run 24/7, I have my monitors configured to go dark after two hours of non-use.

Depending on your version of Windows, you can generally configure that by going to Power Management in the Control Panel > Display > Screen Saver > Monitor Power. You will see settings for the Monitor, Hard Drive and Standby. I have my desktop computers set to 2 hours, Never and Never. In other words, the hard drives never shut down, nor does any system go into Hibernation or Sleep mode. (There are no moving parts with solid-state or SS drives, so “always-on” is a natural state – not unlike my Cousin Norbert, the Insomniac.)

Hard drives are rated by hours between failures and a typical new hard drive today is rated at 200,000 hours. Even at 100,000 hours, that’s a little over 11 years of 24/7 operation, so it is extremely unlikely that your drive is going to self-destruct as a result of being on. You do need to pay attention to any strange noises emanating from the drive, its cooling fan(s), or your gastrointestinal tract. If a fan starts to make unusual noises, you can have it replaced for approximately $20.

If you do decide to leave your computer on, restart it once a week to clear out the memory and refresh system resources, but that’s all you really need to do. By leaving my computers on, I have my anti-virus and anti-spyware programs configured to update and scan in the middle of the night.

Mr. Modem's DME (Don't Miss 'Em) sites of the month

Not in My Food

Hosted by a Consumers Union team of food safety advocates, this site operates on the premise that everyone has a right to know what’s in the food they eat. That means knowing what foods contain carcinogens, what ingredients might be dangerous or of concern, and even if the packaging should be approached with caution. This is an excellent and informative site, particularly for those who never want to eat again.

Rat Race Rebellion

If you have ever searched for a work-from-home job, you probably know that there are oodles of scams, all too eager to separate you from your hard-earned dollars. This site wants to change that by offering approved, qualified leads for legitimate jobs. Start your visit by reviewing the FAQ that explains how the site works, then under Start Here, check out “Today’s Screened Job Leads,” which will take you to the newest job listings.

Vehicle Fixer

Here you can release your inner mechanic and watch videos that will help you repair your vehicle. That’s the theory, anyway. Start by selecting the type of vehicle or the type of repair required. The site will then display your video search results. If you scroll past the explanation of the site, you can click links to videos about the site, a link to the site’s blog, news and interviews.

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