Dumb computer question

I’m about to head out from the office to Starbucks to do some grading and course prep. This means packing up the Macbook into my briefcase and carrying it around a lot. Which is better for the long-term health and proper functioning of the computer in this case:

  1. Shutting the computer down, then firing it back up again when I get to the coffee shop; or
  2. Just closing the lid and letting it enter sleep mode until I get to the coffee shop?

I have this idea, probably ill-founded, that leaving the computer on while you carry it around a lot in a briefcase is a bad thing because of potential hard disk damage. But I seem to think that turning the computer on and off all the time is bad too. I’d like some real knowledge about this.

Extra credit: What about carrying it home at night, only to let it sit in my briefcase until the next morning when I’m back at the office again? Should it be off during that time, or in sleep mode?


Filed under Apple, Technology, Uncategorized

8 responses to “Dumb computer question

  1. I’m pretty sure that the hard disk is parked when it’s sleeping.

    My guess is that there is a trivial amount more wear-and-tear on moving parts in the shut down / restart option than in the sleep option.

    However, my own concern has to do with heat. I think that if my computer is going to be sans ventilation for a while (like in the bag) that I probably want it to be off. How hot does it get while sleeping? Don’t know.

  2. From the manual: “If you’ll be away from your MacBook for only a short time, put it to sleep. … If you aren’t going to use your MacBook for a day or two, it’s best to shut it down.”

    (Yes, I really do need to find something to do with my free time instead to commenting on people’s blogs….)

  3. Not to mention reading the user manual for your computer!

  4. I always shut down my laptop — primarily for security reasons. If it’s off, it can’t be hacked.

  5. I just got a MacBook, and I LOVE it!

    When you close the lid, the hard disk immediately spins down, so it won’t be damaged by motion– plus it is a portable computer, so it is designed to handle being portable. It is safe to carry around your computer. You do use a padded briefcase for you MacBook, right?

    Who goes a couple of days without using their computer? (said with a grin)

  6. It’s actually NOT a padded briefcase. It’s an old leather case I got years ago and wouldn’t dream of replacing with something ergonomic. 🙂

    I don’t have a problem with carrying the Macbook around for short trips — like from one classroom to another, or across campus. I’m just wondering about more extensive movement (office to car to house to car…) where there’s a little more action going on.

    I promise you, if we had wifi in our house, I don’t think the Macbook would ever get turned off.

  7. virusdoc

    Regardless of the suspend state–standby, hibernate, or shutdown–the read/write head of the disk is parked and can’t possibly damage itself or the magnetic platter. In sleep mode (what we call “suspend to RAM” or S3 suspend in the Windows world) the RAM modules continue to be powered from battery. This means that it is possible to drain the battery completely after several hours to days, depending on the charge status of the battery when you enter sleep.

  8. dpg

    I rarely shut my Mac all the way down – even when I travel and go through security. I have a friend who claims he never shut his Powerbook down for the first year – he just put it to sleep (I do not know if he took it places). FYI, my first battery lasted two years.