Should You Shut Down Your PC Every Night? [You Should]

CG Director Author Christopher Harperby Christopher Harper   /  Published 

Should you shut down your PC every night? Let’s talk about all the reasons why and why not.

I’ll also be discussing a few extra, related tips after addressing the main question here since questions like this tend to involve some nuance depending on who you are, how many devices you have, and what you’re using those devices for.

Let’s dive into it!

Should You Shut Your PC Down Every Night?

Why You Should: Reduce Your Idle PC Power Consumption

So, the first and most obvious reason to shut down your PC every night is to reduce your power consumption.

PC Power Consumption

Even at idle, your PC can end up consuming a lot of excess power if you don’t take steps to mitigate your idle power draw, especially if you don’t have a high-efficiency Power Supply.

Depending on where you live and your PC type, you can easily save a couple of hundred dollars each year by shutting down your PC if it’s not in use. It’s a no-brainer both for the environment and for your wallet.

Why You Should: Improve Hardware Longevity

Another thing that can’t hurt is improving the longevity of your hardware!

While PCs are built to be pretty durable, especially with a high-quality motherboard, PSU, and stable wall/UPS power delivery, they are still machines that will degrade over time the more you use them.

At least, certain components are prone to needing maintenance, repairs, or replacement over a long enough period of time of regular, non-stop operation.

Truthfully, I’m pretty used to running my PC for days at a time over the years.

I’ve personally had to replace the thermal paste in my current PC twice since I originally built it, and in fact, even had my original CPU cooler fan give out on me twice* due to natural wear-and-tear to the fan’s bearings.

Keeping your PC running with proper repair knowledge can be a fun, if stressful project! But I probably wouldn’t have had to do it so soon if I had turned off my PC more often…

Why You Should: Clear Up Errors, RAM, VRAM, Swap File

If you ever open up Windows’ Event Viewer, you may be surprised to find a ton of accumulated “Error” and “Warning” Events beginning to fill up your system.

Windows’ Event Viewer

These are…mostly harmless if they aren’t interfering with the use of your PC, but shouldn’t be ignored wholeheartedly.

Even if troubleshooting doesn’t reveal a way to prevent these accumulated minor errors, it’s still probably good to give your PC a proper breather here and there so they don’t keep stacking them indefinitely. Stuff like that can eventually lead to a system crash for an otherwise-healthy system!

Shutting down and restarting your PC also makes sure your RAM, VRAM and Page/Swap File are cleared and your PC is getting a fresh start. After all, if you’ve had your PC running for a long time, there are all kinds of applications, drivers, caches, and background tasks that can accumulate and may be lingering without you knowing.

Why Not: For Running Long Renders or Big Downloads

Now, one compelling reason to run your PC overnight will be obvious for professionals or budding creators— a long render on a video or 3D project! And many other tasks that can be left unattended.

Running Long Renders

Just because you’re going to sleep doesn’t mean your PC has to, and those tasks are notoriously intensive on your PC’s resources, especially if you have to do some parallel work on it during the day.

A similarly time-consuming reason to run your PC overnight can also just be for people with a big download to run, especially with a slow Internet connection!

Back in the American Southeast (where I was raised), sub-5 Megabit Internet speeds are still surprisingly common, which means even some modern software packages or  games can take days to download.

So, keeping your PC on overnight if a task is running that needs no active input from you makes sense. Do make sure you turn off anything else that is not needed, though, like your monitors and speakers.

Why Not: Playing Media

Like to listen to music or watch TV when going to sleep at night?

The modern PC, even a modern budget PC, is pretty much an everything-machine, so overnight entertainment is a fairly common use for a PC when you aren’t turning it off every night.

However, it’s also worth noting that there are…definitely more power-efficient ways to watch TV or listen to music at night.

If you’re going to use a high-power PC for something as lightweight as media playback while you’re dozing off, be sure to consider at least enabling Power Saver in your Windows settings to cut down on excess power usage.

Power Saver Mode on Laptops

Also consider using a laptop or smart device for the task instead, since those have a much lower energy footprint and are more suited to tasks like these.

Why Not: For continuing where you left off the day before

Arguably one of the main reasons many leave their PCs on during the night and at all times is because they have many applications and projects opened that are unsaved or things like browser tabs configured just the way they like it.

Shutting down your PC would lose all your unsaved projects, the current state of launched applications, and browser tabs. But a very easy fix’ll keep all of this and still allow you to save a good chunk of power: Sleep Mode.

Instead of shutting down your PC, you can put it to sleep. This will save the state of all of your applications, projects, browser tabs, etc., and will load them the next time you turn your PC back on. It’s like you never took a break!

Windows Sleep Mode

Conclusion: Should You Shut Down Your PC Every Night?

Provided you don’t have tasks running overnight (especially long renders or downloads), yes!

At the very least, if it’s not in use actively or passively, you should put your PC to sleep, even for short breaks of just a few minutes.

Should You Shut Down Your PC Every Night copy

The overwhelming majority of modern PCs use SSD storage and even ones that don’t still support UEFI Fast Boot on an HDD, which still dramatically cuts down boot times compared to the days of pre-UEFI HDD boot times.

There really isn’t much reason to run your PC full-time these days when they’re so well-equipped to be quickly booted up and back into the OS in a matter of a minute or less.

Or in a matter of seconds if you put your PC to sleep instead of shutting it down completely.

BTW: No wear and tear is going on when shutting down or starting a modern PC (in contrast to, say, a car).


How Do You Measure PC Power Consumption?

So, there are actually a few different ways to Check Your PC’s Power Consumption, but your best options boil down to either estimating through a Power Supply Calculator or using an actual, physical Watt Meter to get a real-time reading.

OuterVision Power Supply Calculator

Source: OuterVision

Consider Alex’s full Guide linked above if you want a more detailed look at power consumption measurement methods!

What Are The Best Ways To Reduce PC Power Consumption?

So, provided you’ve read through this article but still want to run your PC overnight, you may be looking out for methods of reducing your PC’s power consumption when you aren’t actively at your desk, using it.

Here are a few recommendations from yours truly:

  • Enable Windows’ Power Saver Power Plan. This is the easiest to do, and likely the most effective overall if you’ll still be doing something like rendering or running a big download overnight. Power Saver will reduce your performance, but not so much that whatever you’re doing shouldn’t still finish before you wake up.
  • Open Your BIOS/UEFI and Adjust Available Power Settings. This will be very motherboard-dependent. Head here if you need help getting into your BIOS!
  • Use Your CPU/GPU Auto-Tune Software (if available/installed) To Enable An “Eco” or Low-Power Mode. This is also hardware-dependent, but relatively user-friendly if you know where to find the software in question. For either component, manufacturer’s site Support/Downloads page is a great place to look.
  • Use A High-Efficiency Power Supply – Did you know that mid-range and low-end Power Supplies actually consume much more excess power than is actually being used? A low 80+ Power Efficiency rating means that more power needs to be consumed and exhausted as heat in order for your PSU to run well. Aiming for 80+ Gold (ideally higher) certifications in your PSU can help cut down on excess power drain.

Are There Any Notable Low Power PC Designs?

If you’ve read this far into the article, you may have some concerns about PC power consumption in general. Fortunately, you aren’t the only one!

There are a fair few low-power PC designs that may be worth looking into if you’re trying to maximize your performance-per-watt.

In particular, I recommend the Intel NUC line of Mini PCs or even the Valve Steam Deck for competent, decently-powerful, low-power consumption PC designs.

The Apple Mac Mini and All-In-One Monitor PC designs are also worth an honorable mention here.

Over to You

And that’s it!

I hope this article helped you determine whether or not you should shut down your PC every night. Personally, I could probably stand to turn my PC off more often and just play music off my phone instead, as that’s what my PC is usually doing when I’m asleep.

But at the same time, I won’t hesitate to run my PC overnight next time I want to render a big video project for YouTube or download a new 150+ GB AAA monstrosity off of Steam…PC is all about trusting yourself to make executive decisions like that, right?

Leave a comment below and let me know if you have any questions related to this article or PC hardware in general. You can also try out Forum for more in-depth engagement on your questions, especially if you’re working on more complex building or rendering projects.

Until then or until next time, happy computing!

And remember: if you aren’t shutting down your PC every night, at least do something to curb that excess power consumption and hardware strain before it comes back to bite ya.

CGDirector is Reader-supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Christopher Harper

I have been a passionate devotee to technology since the age of 3, and to writing since before I even finished high school.

These passions have since combined into a living in my adulthood and have made writing about PC Hardware very satisfying.

If you need any assistance, leave a comment below: it’s what I’m here for.


Also check out our Forum for feedback from our Expert Community.

Leave a Reply