The computer is “very hot”, switch it off or it will explode and catch fire! So says a concerned tech dinosaur grandma – But really? Just how long can computers run continuously, will they overheat and explode into flames?
Modern mobile phones, computers, laptops, and servers are made to run continuously for years without shutting down. They often shut down or reset only because of system errors. There are also safety mechanisms, computers will automatically shut down in emergencies.
So yes, there are no known cases of a zombie apocalypse caused by an exploding computer. That said, it may not be the best idea to keep a computer running for no reason, especially when it is not processing anything. Read on to find out more!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|How Long?||Not Good?||Useful Bits|
HOW LONG CAN A COMPUTER RUN?
Just exactly how long can a computer run continuously? Through my many years in the IT industry, I have personally seen servers that have never shut down for donkey years – There were only periodic restarts for maintenance.
Of course, some may say that servers have better parts and are made to not shut down. How about our “regular Joe” PC and smartphones then? Let us address some of the factors and concerns for not shutting down a computer in this section.
NO REQUIREMENTS TO SHUT DOWN COMPUTERS
First, let us start by setting a very simple fact straight. There are no requirements to shut down computers periodically, nor are there any “safety notices” warning against running computers for too long.
As far as I personally know, I have never encountered computer manufacturers putting out instructions such as “for every 12 hours of usage, you must shut down the computer for at least an hour”. Modern computers are actually pretty robust and are made to run without shutting down.
IS THERE A SAFETY TIME LIMIT?
So yes, the computer manufacturers did not specify any safety notices on shutting down. But how about our daily smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops? Is there a recommended “safety limit” for how long we can operate computers at once?
Personally again, my record for not shutting down a smartphone is 1 year – It got shut down only because of a low battery. Although there is no “recommended run time”, it still makes sense to shut down the computer sometimes, which we will walk through in the next section.
WILL IT EXPLODE?
Now to address the good old urban myth – Computers will explode if we don’t shut them down periodically. It is a common misconception that computers will accumulate heat over time, meltdown, and eventually cause an explosion that wipes out an entire city… Nope, that is not going to happen.
Computers will only heat up when it does more processing; The processor will only generate more heat when it consumes more power. If a good cooling system is in place, the computer will never meltdown or explode for the matter.
In any case, modern computers have a feature called “throttling”. Processors will slow themselves down to prevent overheating. There are also safety features to do emergency shutdown on overheating.
Still not convinced that modern computers are made to run for long hours? Then consider the simple fact that most servers in data centers can run for years before they are shut down for maintenance and upgrades.
Need more persuading? Then consider the fact we have launched the first global positioning system (GPS) satellite on 22 Feb 1978 – NASA. Since then, the onboard computers have run for decades off solar power without shutting down.
NOT REALLY SMART TO KEEP IT RUNNING
It is safe to keep a computer running for long durations. But sometimes, it just makes more sense for us to shut it down completely – Here’s why.
NOT DOING ANYTHING PRODUCTIVE
So… Why leave the computer on when it is not doing any productive work at all? We leave smartphones on because we are expecting calls, or maybe to use as an alarm clock in the morning.
But for laptops and desktops? It only makes more sense to shut them down when not in use. That will conserve the battery life on laptops, and not generate needless heat plus noise to the room… Probably less the radiation too.
EXTENDING BATTERY LIFE
While we are on the topic of battery life – Yes, battery technologies have come a long way and they can last pretty long. But that does not mean they are immune to abuse. Shutting down a computer when not in use will reduce the battery drain, resulting in less charging, and thus, effectively extending the battery life.
EXTENDING LIFE SPAN
Manufacturers offer a warranty period based on the worst-case scenario where the computer is kept running non-stop. There is certain quality assurance, but that does not mean computers last forever.
Continuously running a computer will surely degrade the computer faster. The question is – How long will the computer last beyond the warranty period, and are you looking forward to buying a new computer earlier?
Finally, there is the dreaded thing called “the Internet” these days… It intrudes your resting hours and holidays with emails, messages, and phone calls. Not cool especially when it is work-related. Sometimes, life is just happier without computers.
P.S. Here is something to take note of, the smartphone (and laptop) camera can be hacked into – LadBible. The best protection against hackers is to just switch off the entire computer. No power, no network, no access to the mic and camera.
USEFUL BITS & LINKS
That’s all for this guide, and here is a small section on some extras and links that may be useful to you.
KEEP RUNNING OR SWITCH OFF?
To keep running or not, that is the question entirely up to your own decision – I will personally switch off the computers and WIFI before going to sleep or heading out of the house. Less distraction, better sleep. Saves power and no worries of a freak fire accident.
But if you can’t live without a computer running and need that extra dose of radiation – By all means, go ahead. There really is nothing wrong with it, and yes, it is safe to not shut down a computer.
LINKS & REFERENCES
- Should you turn your computer off at night? – Digital Trends
- Should You Shut Down a Computer When It’s Not in Use? – Life Wire
- How long can I run my PC continuously? – Quora
Thank you for reading, and we have come to the end of this guide. I hope this has helped you to better understand, and if you have anything to share with this guide, please feel free to comment below. Good luck and may the cyber force be with you.
1 thought on “How Long Can a Computer Run Continuously? (Is It Safe?)”
Good information, not hard to understand and without a whole lot of “big” words. Thank you.