General Question

tko7800's avatar

I just bought a MacBook and was wondering how often should I shut down?

Asked by tko7800 (586points) January 30th, 2009

Also, is it ok to always leave the charger attached?

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15 Answers

dexinsf's avatar

Never unless it’s acting funnny or there’s a software update that comes out which makes u restart it… If none of the above happen then I would stick to shutting it down once a month

lefteh's avatar

Eh. I disagree.
I would recommend shutting it off at least weekly and letting it rest overnight. Otherwise, you could start to see some decreases in speed. I certainly do if it goes more than 9 or 10 days.
As far as the charger, it’s actually good for your battery to be drained and recharged, drained and recharged. It’s just like you – it needs exercise. Now, I’m not saying never use your adapter when your battery isn’t dead, but you should definitely allow your battery to discharge regularly.

willbrawn's avatar

I shut it down when i know im not going to be using it. There are days in the week that i never even open it sometimes. I see no reason in not shutting it down when its not going to be in use.

cyberhill's avatar

Never, unless it asks you to.

lefteh's avatar

Why? What’s the rationale for never shutting down your computer?

Jamkas's avatar

I have a macbook and I shut it down as soon as I’m done using and knowing I won’t be back too it within a minimum of four hours. So basically I let it rest if I’m not using it whatsoever. Honestly like why not shut it down? There is no reason to have your computer sitting idle consuming electricity. It is fine to leave the charger plugged in because once the battery reaches maximum charge it doesn’t continue to charge the battery and run off the battery it just uses the power directly from the input.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

This is a recurring debate with nerds worldwide.. personally I leave mine on at all times out of sheer convenience… and it still works just fine after all these years.

justn's avatar

I think my record is about a month without shutting down. After about a week some funky things sometimes start happening, like the Finder not realizing you connected an external monitor and moving the hard disk icon over. Usually when it starts doing funky stuff I’ll reboot it. But during the school year I usually shut it down in the morning before I stick it in my backpack.

cyberhill's avatar

It’s a macbook laptop, there is really no reason to completely shut it down. Just close the lid and put it to sleep – I doubt it uses much power, it just dumps the ram to the hard drive and sits there.

StellarAirman's avatar

Computers do not need to “rest”.

When you start them up the initial surge of energy can be damaging over a long period of time and damage sensitive components.

The argument for turning off your computer used to be that it kept the hard drives spinning all the time and wore them out, but with modern computers they turn themselves off after a period of inactivity. “Sleep” also didn’t used to exist for computers. Now it does and it basically shuts down your computer except enough to keep a charge in the RAM so it won’t erase itself.

Your Mac needs to run important maintenance routines regularly, which it normally does in the middle of the night. If you turn your computer off, it can not run these routines. Supposedly if the computer is turned off when it’s scheduled to run them it will run them the next time the computer boots up, but I have always seen noticeable speed improvements after running them manually, and it would also slow down your computer temporarily the next time you start it up while it runs those scripts.

You can run them yourself if you use a OS X maintenance application or type

sudo periodic daily
sudo periodic weekly
sudo periodic monthly

into the terminal application and enter your administrator password, but that’s just a pain to remember to do.

So, there is really no reason to turn off your computer unless it’s going to be off for quite a while. Just shutting the lid will put it to sleep and it’ll use almost no power and will be ready to work almost immediately the next time you want to use it, rather than you having to wait for it to boot up every time. I never turn any of my Macs off and never have, unless I’m doing a software update or I’m going out of town or something.

rooeytoo's avatar

I never shut my Macbook down, I just restart it once a week or when it acts weird. I put it to sleep and close the lid when I am carrying it around with me.

tonedef's avatar

You don’t really have to shut it down. The Mac OS X operating system is very smart with RAM, and it doesn’t leak as much as other operating systems. It doesn’t leave very many lingering background processes for programs that has been closed. The only reason to shut it down is energy savings. Sleeping works just fine for when the computer’s not in use. It will cause no long-term damage to the computer.

That being said, there are programs that should be periodically quit and restarted, such as Firefox. It is a serious memory hog, and will noticeably decrease performance the longer it’s open. Quit it and reopen it to fix the problem. OS X does leak memory slightly, but a simple log off / log on will fix the problem.

Also, the other issue in play here is the battery. We did research around here on Lithium ion batteries, and found some surprising results. The long and short of it is, only charge it to about 60%, store in a cool place, and take it out when using the power cord. When you’re working at your desk, or over night, it’s better for the battery not to be attached. And for the love of god, DO NOT leave it the computer in a hot car with the battery in.

Enjoy your new mac!

aaronbeekay's avatar

Hi guys. Let’s talk about some recurring misconceptions.

System shutdown. OS X, BSD, Mach, blah blah blah, are designed to be systems that never need to be restarted in the course of their normal operation. Why do we restart our computers, then?
– To swap out libraries that are in use by the system. Actually, we’ve gotten pretty good at doing this while the computer is still running, but OS X likes to play safe. Linux is a lot better at this.
– If the kernel panics (enters a state from which it cannot safely recover). Shit happens.
– That’s all.

That’s right, folks, those are the only things that require you to restart your computer. Everything else you need to do, can be done without restarting. Now, if your system is spewing a megabyte a second to syslog, maybe it’s going to be easier to just restart than to try and get to a console to order launchd around. But you don’t NEED to restart for that, and as @tonedef mentioned, OS X is pretty good with memory management.

Batteries. Discharging your battery and recharging it again does not help it. Battery technology has moved quickly, and we’ve burned through several different battery chemistries in the recent past:
– Lead-acid batteries: did we use these in computers? I forget. I’m too lazy to look it up.
– Nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal-hydride (you may know them as NiCd and NiMH) cells were next up. These types of batteries DID have a “memory”, and they COULD be conditioned by fully depleting and recharging the battery pack. These cells were still in use in laptops until fairly recently, and we still use them for our rechargeable AA/AAA cells. This is where I think the “deplete your battery and it’ll be happy” myth comes from.
– Lithium-ion and, more recently, lithium-polymer cells. These cells power the nicest, shiniest notebooks. They have high energy capacities, although they can have issues with high-current discharge. Unfortunately, these cells are both finicky and highly dangerous if mishandled. I’m going to break out of my nice clean bulleted list for a moment to say this:

Lithium-ion and lithium-polymer cells do not benefit from repeated charge and discharge cycles; in fact, this practice will decrease their useful lifespan.

These cells are rated for the number of cycles they can handle; that is, the number of times they can be fully discharged and fully recharged. You don’t have to bring your battery down to 0% to tick the “cycle counter”: if you discharge and recharge halfway, twice, that’s one cycle. I know that Apple estimates a battery lifespan of 300 cycles (excepting the new MacBook Pro 17” Unibody, which uses magic battery juju). After that, the cell is not expected to retain a charge reliably.

Now, some of you snippity folk out there may point me to the Apple KB article which recommends discharging and recharging your battery therapeutically. Yes, I know Apple says that. The reason Apple says that is because your battery is more than just a bunch of Li-Ion or LiPo cells strung together. Remember how I mentioned that lithium cells are both finicky and dangerous? Remember the Sony battery fiasco, when we had Dells turning into fire-plumes left and right? That’s what I mean. Li* cells ALWAYS retain a charge, even when your computer cries and shuts down. This is because if any individual cell is allowed to deplete past about 3.2V, it is more or less ruined. If any individual cell is allowed to charge past about 4.2V, it can puff and rupture. If it ruptures, you’re mixing lithium and water. Anybody remember what happens then?

Anyways, the battery you put in your computer has a little bitty microcontroller whose job it is to maintain the battery voltage within nominal ranges. Sometimes its measurements can become offset, making it cut off the battery power—to “save” the battery from destruction—before it’s really necessary. Depleting and recharging the battery will recalibrate that microcontroller, but it costs you a cycle.

That’s also why you shouldn’t leave fully-charged batteries in the heat, by the way—as temperature increases, the voltage of the cell increases. If a cell is already at 4.2V, that increase can cause failure. Same with extreme cold and fully-depleted cells.

lefteh's avatar

I don’t care what you say, after a week or so my Macbook gets unhappy and a quick restart fixes it.

aaronbeekay's avatar

@lefteh: Quite possible. If you have any RAM-hungry apps, widgets, or MenuItems, the system can have some trouble paging them out efficiently. Trouble with pageouts = oversubscribed RAM = trouble with responsiveness. Rebooting can certainly fix that problem.

The reasons I don’t tell people to reboot weekly or whatever:
a) most people aren’t like you and me, and don’t have difficult-to-track memory issues; if they are out of RAM they can usually restart Safari and fix things up
b) restarting clears the kernel’s disk cache, and the disk cache improves in accuracy and performance with increasing system uptime (assuming the user is doing similar things.) In this regard, restarting the system will actually slow it down until the cache can regenerate.

Nothing WRONG with restarting, though. Not a holy war. Yet.

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