When Should You Shut Down Your Mac? Should you let it sleep instead?

Do you shut down your Mac every time you stop using it? If your answer is yes then you should probably stop doing that after reading this article. In fact, if you are constantly shutting down your Mac, you might actually be doing more harm than good to your Mac, and it may even experience slowness and decreased performance.

When Should You Shut Down Your Mac? Should you let it sleep instead?
Mac

Do you shut down your Mac every time you stop using it? If your answer is yes then you should probably stop doing that after reading this article.

In fact, if you are constantly shutting down your Mac, you might actually be doing more harm than good to your Mac, and it may even experience slowness and decreased performance. It may also decrease the life of your battery if you have a laptop.

I almost never shut down my laptop or a desktop Mac-like M1 Mac Mini.

Shutting down does several things to your Mac.

Firstly, it flushes your RAM or Random Access Memory of all data. This can be good in some situations but more often when you restart your computer and start loading up programs again, it’s going to take a lot of time 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 or background tasks.

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.

Shutting down and then turning on Mac

Secondly, 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.

Load Time

Thirdly, and 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 simply putting your Mac desktop or MacBook to sleep is better ?

Firstly, 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.

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 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. 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 iMessage. If you’re on a recent version of macOS, this all happens automatically.

Mac 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. 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 electricity outlet for desktop Macs.

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. 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. The battery will not do this if the MacBook is fully shut down.

Conclusion

The Mac operating system, otherwise known as macOS, is based on Unix. Unix is world-famous for 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.

So how often should you shut down your Mac?

Shut down your Mac only if experiencing issues on macOS. If you are going to be traveling, however, for example through an airport, or leaving your MacBook at home for a few weeks and not using it, just shut it down fully. For shorter trips such as going from home to school, just leave it in sleep mode. 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.

Also Read: Comparison between the Intel and Apple Silicon M1 chips – How a CPU works