Q: It seems that turning a computer on and off would be more wearing on the machine than simply using standby mode to let the computer sleep when not in use. Is there a preferred setup that maximizes PC life?
A: The question of powering off a computer vs. leaving the computer on all the time is one that goes back to the dawn of personal computing.
Some will argue that turning the computer on and off places strain on the hardware components. In the early days of computing this was kind of true, but not really in the way you might expect. The power button would sometimes wear out back when you actually had to press the button to turn the computer on or off.
It was a minor problem, but not easy to fix.
Another argument against shutting down a PC was that older computers took a long time to boot up. As you install various applications they can slow down day-to-day operations, and this slowness often manifests in slower start up times. Allowing the computer to go into standby meant that the computer was ready to go in a shorter amount of time.
Arguments against leaving a computer on all the time usually surround power consumption. But the truth is, if the computer is using energy saving features like standby mode, the overall use of power is quite minimal when the computer is not being used.
Other arguments suggest that leaving a computer on all the time presents a fire hazard. In reality, this is no more a concern than leaving your microwave or refrigerator plugged in all the time. That being said, computer users tend to have multiple devices connected to a single socket. Computer, monitor, printer, speakers and so forth. An overloaded electrical socket is a fire hazard, so you should always be alert with electrical appliances.
It all boils down to how you use your PC.
If you have no problem shutting down at the end of the day and firing the computer back up in the morning, then use this practice. It will save electricity, even if only a little. And I don’t think you should be concerned about wear and tear as a result of turning it on and off.
If you need your computer to be ready to use at a moment’s notice, then by all means, leave it on. I have one computer that I use for all my media streaming and it is on 24 hours a day so I can access it.
It should be noted that a computer can always benefit from the occasional reboot. If you do decide to leave your PC on all the time you should reboot it on occasion just to make sure it is running at top efficiency.