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Always a controversy even within the industry but shutting off and restarting computers does not seem to extend their life. While the hardware is a little different and more robust, servers all over the world run 24/7 for years and years. All of our computers run 24/7 and in 20+ years we have never had a failure (see UPS). But having said that, our computers are replaced every 4-6 years for reliability reasons.
- Leave on:
- Scheduled items like virus scans and backups obviously require the computer to be running and awake. See Power settings.
- If the computer shares data, printers or devices to other computers on your network. See Power settings.
- If the computer is responsible for running other things like security cameras, security systems, phone systems, etc.
- Shut off:
- Hard drives, power supplies and electronics in general do not like sudden loss of power, so unless your computer is on a battery backup device (and sometimes even then), shut it off when thunderstorms are approaching. See UPS.
- If you are leaving for a couple of days or more.
More and more these days, everything is online and with identity theft being a big issue, you need to use good passwords. Be sure to write them down! We have seen too many email addresses lost because the user changed the password then forgot it. Gmail, Yahoo and other web-based email security is quite high and unless you have setup some type of secondary contact information, recovering from a password issue is nearly impossible.
Computers and data (documents) too! If you do not know your password, you may not get back in. While the data may be recoverable, the computer would likely have to be restored to factory condition, but a couple of caveats:
- You will be completely out of luck if you encrypted the computer using Windows Bitlocker or some other encryption scheme.
- While there are some password cracking applications available on the Internet, we dare say most of them are virus laden.
A good password has a combination of UPPER and lower case, numbers and characters/special symbols. Most systems now require at least 6 characters, some 8. Some even require the password be changed on a regular basis. The longer the password the better!
Don't use words, phrases or numbers that can be looked up, e.g., your phone number, date of birth, etc. Hackers first start with what's called a dictionary hack where they simply have attempt passwords using a common word or words.
When setting up a new computer, you are almost forced (deceptively in our opinion) to use your email address and password as the user and logon information. You do not have to! See setting up Windows 10.