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When you Should Shut Down your Mac?

When you Should Shut Down your Mac?

Do you shut down your Mac every time you stop using it? If your answer is yes...well you should probably stop doing that, and I’m going to tell you why right now. In fact, if you are constantly shutting down your Mac, you might actually be doing it more harm than good, and may even experience slowness and decreased performance.

It may also decrease the life of your battery if you have a laptop. In a previous article of mine that I often go over 3 weeks without restarting my Mac. That’s right, no matter if I’m using a laptop or a desktop Mac like the M1 Mac Mini, I almost never shut it down.


Why You Shouldn’t Shut Down Every Time


You see, shutting down does several things to your Mac.

1. It flushes your RAM or ''Random Access Memory'' of all data. This can be good in some situations and I’ll touch on that a bit later, but more often than not it’s completely unnecessary. Flushing your RAM means that when you restart your computer and start loading up programs again, it’s going to take a lot longer than usual and they will not perform at optimal levels until you’ve been using them for a while and relevant data is loaded back into RAM.

After a restart, all the temporary data that was being stored in RAM and allows you to multitask efficiently, such as program settings, background tasks, or webpages for example need to be re-loaded. macOS manages its RAM very efficiently, so there’s no need to constantly flush your RAM, and you should do it (via a restart) ONLY if you are experiencing system slowness or other issues.

2. Shutting down and then turning on a computer puts a small amount of stress on the components, such as the internal drive, motherboard, and power supply. When turning on a computer, a POST, or Power On Self Test sequence will run that tests all components of the computer and checks for issues. This test in itself is not stressful, but if it’s happening several times a day, every day, for years and years, it may start to add up and increase wear on system components.

3. Perhaps the most noticeable result of constantly shutting down your computer is that you need to wait for it to turn back on. These days, especially with laptops featuring a Solid State Drive, or SSD, the restart process is very quick. But, nonetheless, it takes far longer than simply waking the computer from sleep. Over the course of several years, this could add up to days and days of lost time from simply waiting until your computer turns off or turns back on again. 


Why You Should Hibernate Instead


Why simply putting your Mac desktop or MacBook to sleep is better for both you and your computer?


Hibernating/Sleep Mode Is Much Faster

1. It’s just so much faster. I can open the screen of my MacBook Air and be instantly back to work, with all my draft emails, web pages, Word documents, and other files open and ready to go. When I’m done using my Mac, I make sure I either put it to sleep using the Apple menu on a desktop Mac or simply close the screen on my MacBook which will automatically put it to sleep.


Why Sleep Mode Is Good For Your Mac


When you Should Shut Down your Mac?

While sleeping, your Mac actually does quite a lot of really important stuff in the background. For example, it will run maintenance tasks and scripts to clean up the operating system and fix any minor software errors that may have occurred during your use. It will also index files for searching. This will happen every time you add, remove, rename, or move folders and files on your Mac. This is such an important process, especially if you often use the spotlight to search your computer for files.

Your Mac generally will not perform any of these tasks while it’s turned on and being used, because these tasks may impact your usage. If you are shutting down your Mac straight after you’ve finished using it, these tasks may simply never have time to run, the end result being your Mac becomes slower and slower. At the very least, it will result in increased start-up times.

If you’ve set up Time Machine backups, your Mac will also try to perform these while sleeping. In addition, every so often it will wake for a few seconds and connect to the network to refresh emails and things like iMessages. If you’re on a recent version of macOS, this all happens automatically. There’s no need to go into the settings and change anything.

Pro-tip

If you’re on a desktop Mac, you can set up a hot corner so that when you move your mouse into a particular corner of the screen, it will automatically put the computer to sleep.


Sleep Mode Uses Very Little Power

Now don’t think that your Mac is going to be running all night and sucking up power doing these tasks. Generally, it only takes a few minutes, and then your Mac goes into deep hibernation, drawing only a very tiny fraction of power from the battery for MacBooks, or the electrical outlet for desktop Macs.

When you Should Shut Down your Mac?

For reference, the difference between shutting down a Mac at the end of the day versus just letting it sleep is barely $1 a year in electricity.


Sleep Mode is Good For Batteries


For MacBooks, there is another great benefit of sleep mode. Apple laptops use lithium-ion batteries, which require a slow discharge to get the maximum life span out of them. Letting the laptop discharge, which is letting the battery run down, will keep the electrons moving — which maintains the charge capacity and will prolong the life of your battery.

When you Should Shut Down your Mac?

The battery will not do this if the MacBook is fully shut down. I also recommend not leaving your MacBook plugged into its charger 24/7, but I’ll save that for a separate article.


MacOS Doesn't Need To Be Shut Down Often


Lastly, the Mac operating system, otherwise known as macOS, is based on Unix. Unix is world-famous for its extraordinary reliability and stability. It runs perfectly for continuous periods of time and is able to perform a lot of internal maintenance on its own software to remedy any issues and keep the system running effectively.

When you Should Shut Down your Mac?


How Often Do I Shut Down My Own Mac?

Personally, I only ever shut down my Mac if I’m experiencing issues on macOS. For example, programs freeze or crash, or my system is very slow. 9 times out of 10, a simple restart will fix whatever the issue is. If I had to estimate, I probably only shut down my Mac every few weeks, and it’s usually because I’ve installed a macOS or app update that requires a restart.

If I’m going to be traveling, however, for example through an airport, or leaving my MacBook at home for a few weeks and not using it, I will shut it down fully. For shorter trips such as going from home to school, I’ll just leave it in sleep mode.


Closure

So there you have it, that’s everything you need to know about why you shouldn’t shut down your Mac all the time. It’s much better to simply let it sleep. If you have any comments or questions about this article, please let me know down below but apart from that, thanks for reading.

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