Dear Matt: Some people leave their computers on all day; others who use their computers less intensively turn them on and off as they need them. Leaving them on full time consumes more electricity but is perhaps harder on the computer. Is there a good rule of thumb for deciding which is better? — Roger LaBrucherie, Pine Valley
A subject responsible for many a digital fistfight. But let’s see how the experts are divided. Everybody who says “leave it on” lineup along the starboard side. The “turn it off crowd” to port. As you can see, the ship just rolled over on its right side and sank. I tried to get some rules of thumb before they went down, but no luck. The leave-it-on crowd argues that the surge of power through the machine causes all kinds of twitching in everything from the boards and plugs to the circuit wiring. Powering up makes things expand, powering down makes them contract, which can wear things out. And most data loss comes during these times, so why tempt fate? With the new energy-saving idle modes, the turn-it-off brigade is running out of arguments. The most commonly suggested rule, with or without a thumb, is turn it on in the morning, turn it off at night, and turn off peripherals in between if you don’t use them much.